Coupons… what is the first thing you think when you hear that word? Is it savings? Or, is it that crazy old lady in front of you that is holding up the line?

By Barbara High
Tribune Staff Writer
Coupons… what is the first thing you think when you hear that word? Is it savings? Or, is it that crazy old lady in front of you that is holding up the line?
Almost everyone has used a coupon at some point in their life, but it takes a lot to be considered a couponer.
The recent television shows put a new spin on the world of coupons. You know those shows, where they go in and get three buggies and pay $1.65 for everything. There are even some who pay nothing but get money back! That can’t be real, can it? And nobody really accepts coupons here, do they?
Well yes, and yes.
As consumers get smarter and money gets tighter, shoppers today are looking for good deals! In fact, many refuse to pay full price for anything.
How does a family survive in the world today, where buying the basic necessities practically breaks the bank?
Coupons actually are a pretty big deal in our area, as I have come to find out.
I saw posts by friends of mine on social media showing the great deals that they had found. I admit I was jealous! So after some time, I decided to find out what their secrets were.
I figured I would give it a go and let my readers know how it went. I had tried coupons before and went shopping with some 50 or 25 cents off. I saved myself $10 and thought I was doing good. Well trust me, I wasn’t.
I reached out to a young woman in our area and she helped guide me through the world of coupons.
I have since met some new amazing coupon friends who even have their own social media page to support and help each other out. I bought some papers and I started clipping.
I have to admit I was excited, and ran out to use them. I did not get the results my new friends were getting. Then I realized I had bought that item at the wrong store. Because apparently it was on sale somewhere else; they were having a buy one get one free. I bought two at the regular price.
It was at this time I was confused. Lost would be a better term. Let’s face it, I couldn’t have been more lost if I was blindfolded and dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Yet these ladies didn’t give up on me.
I was told I needed to keep track of each store sales paper, so I could find the best bargain. When you find the good deals, you stock up.
I had to acquire a Rite Aid wellness card, a CVS rewards card, a WEIS card, and a Martin’s Bonus Card. So I went out and got them. Then I downloaded the Family Dollar app, along with Rite Aid, Dollar General, and CVS. I linked my card to them. I then downloaded the Ibotta app as well.
Okay beginning to feel a little overwhelmed, I sure did.
Yet I tried again. I searched the sales papers, clipped my coupons and made my purchases at three different stores. I got two items for $6, and then had a three dollar off for two coupon. Then I scanned my receipt and got back another $3 from Ibotta. What I paid  was barely over tax on the item in the end. I have to admit it - I was hooked. They say it’s addicting, but I didn’t buy that. Well I bought it now, and used a coupon for it! Sorry pun intended.
With the apps on your phone you don’t even have to clip your coupons to save. You go to your app for the store you’re shopping at and click coupons available. They will show you pretty much most of the coupons that are out there, and then you click on the ones that you want and at checkout enter in your number at the registers and they instantly take off all your savings.
I can’t believe I have been paying full price for so long!! No more… I even have Jasper looking at me every time we go in and he picks something out, asking if we have a coupon for it.  lol
Now how easy is this all, you may ask? After a little time anyone can do it.
Have all my coupon experiences been pleasant, well no, to be honest, they haven’t.
There is a stigma of some type associated with coupons. In some places people were rude, and one even made a comment in front of me about, “ These people and their coupons.” I think they put you on the level of maybe a shoplifter, or what you would think a person might feel when they had food stamp vouchers. I think it shames the consumer, and that is never okay. There is no shame in being  a smart consumer and saving your family money! No shame at all!
One store went as far as saying they needed to crack down on these couponers. Yeah, crazy, huh?
Most of my experiences were pleasant, however. I would like to say that Family Dollar was a wonderful experience, they even helped me locate things that were on sale and were very patient with me. A big thank-you to the sweet lady Joyce who was just as excited to see my savings as I was. Family Dollar, you have a jewel there.
It was the same at WEIS in Cresaptown; they even turned me around and said go back, your forgot those are a great savings! Imagine that a store, telling you the sales you missed!
Dollar General in Keyser was usually easy to use coupons at, and I have one very friendly lady to check me out. Trust me, I shall return.  They also offer the digital coupons from their app, same as Family Dollar.  
Out of town I have to say that Family Dollar in Romney had a lot of patience on this new couponer (lol) and they had excellent friendly customer service. Walmart there had trouble scanning some of the coupons, but I always had a friendly CSM to come to my aid. Dollar Tree in Keyser and in Lavale were very helpful and even redid my purchase, because I forgot a coupon. Kuddos for them, as well.
Retailers get reimbursed for the amount of the coupons. It’s a great way for families to save on hygiene products, food, laundry detergent and all other basic necessities.  Stock piling on goods you find on sale that you know you will use really cuts down on those trips to the store. I know it’s every day my kids call me and say, “Hey mom we need toilet paper, can you pick some up on your way from work?”
I myself have started a little stock pile, and I am quite proud of it. So don’t be surprised if you see me out with my little coupon book in hand, and sales papers in tow. Remember to say hi and let me know how you’re doing if you decide to try it.
In the world today it’s time to shop smarter, and find ways you can save your family money. A big thank you for everyone who helped me to try this and for the patience and kindness I have been shown this week. That goes to those who waited behind me in line this week, too!
So to all our local stores, keep those deals coming, and remember retailers, be nice to your couponers because they are your biggest shoppers!
Because you know we’re buying stuff we don’t even need just because we have a coupon!!
Just sayin’…