5 On Your Side

Coupon queen shows how to get paid to buy

Posted May 4, 2009
Updated May 9, 2009

Many shoppers use coupons and customer loyalty programs to save at grocery stores. Coupon-clipping queen Faye Prosser uses the "clip and shop" method for great bargains at drug stores as well.

Prosser explained her money-saving process: Flip through fliers advertising store specials, make a list, and, most importantly, clip coupons.

"This is my coupon organizer. This is my baby," she said.

She's then ready to save big at a drug store. "If I ever pay for toothpaste again, it will be a miracle," she said.

Prosser signed up for drug-store loyalty programs. With CVS, she earns Extra Care Bucks, or ECBs, by buying specially advertised products. Then she combines ECBs with coupons to get great deals, such as free toothpaste.

"So the price of Colgate is $3.99. And then you get a coupon for $3.99 after you buy it. And you take those ECBs, and each week you roll them into other ECB deals," she said.

Prosser pointed to another great deal on body scrub: "On sale for $4.99. But you get a coupon ... an extra bucks reward for $4.99 at the register that you can use on anything else."

That wasn't the only bargain she got on that body wash: "I'm using a 75-cent coupon with this purchase, so I pay $4.99, minus 75 cents, but I still get a coupon at the register. This is what we call a moneymaker, where I get back more than I paid."

'Clip and shop' method can score great bargains 'Clip and shop' method can score great bargains

Another "moneymaker" was $2.99 mouthwash on sale with ECBs, plus a 50-cent coupon. "So I'm actually only paying $2.49 for it, but I get back $2.99 at the register," she said.

Prosser used coupons to sweeten a BOGO – buy-one-get-one-free – deal for shampoo and conditioner.

"That makes them a dollar for these products that are normally $5. That's an 80 percent savings on a really good shampoo and conditioner," she said.

When deals are really good, Prosser stocks up. With six $1 coupons, she got soaps for 19 cents each.

Prosser admitted that the process of getting such deals can be mind-boggling.

"My recommendation to folks is to take it in baby steps, one step at a time," she said. "Start by getting your coupons organized. Start by finding coupons for the things you use."

Though intimidating in its own way, Prosser's coupon organizer is the key to her efficiency and isn't that time-consuming, she said.

"If you watch a TV show a week, then your best bet is to sit right there while you're watching your show and clip and file your coupons," she said. "On Sunday nights, I watch two shows, and that's my time to get everything ready."

Is it worth it?

Prosser's cart full of soap, drinks and shampoo initially totaled $37.19. After coupons and ECBs, the bill dropped to $16.55. Prosser also had a $25 gift card earned with a prescription transfer, so she paid nothing – and earned more ECBs.

"You just keep rolling in the ECBs, that is, rolling it over to one free thing after another – crazy," Prosser said.

And she intends to be back the following week to find more bargains.

"Anyone can do this. I promise," Prosser said.

Prosser taught a workshop Saturday called "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half" at Wake Tech's Western Wake Campus, 3434 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary. For information on upcoming classes call 919-866-5839 or visit SmartSpendingResources.com.


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  • 10hummingbirds May 13, 2009

    Thanks for letting me know that Walmart does have a coupon policy to accept internet coupons. I will definitely print that out for the next time.

  • racherb May 8, 2009

    I also follow blogs online that tell me exactly what coupons to use at what stores to get things for free or almost free. With a full-time job, it would be very hard to do this all on my own. There are many wonderful people out there who put in all of the work and share it with us. I set up a Google Reader account and it sends me the blog updates kind of like an email account.

    As far as being wasteful, I only buy things I use OR things that a shelter/nonprofit might need.

    Walmart: I don't shop there often, but their coupon policy says that they accept internet coupons. Some people carry around a copy of the policy when they shop, just in case. http://walmartstores.com/7655.aspx

  • hazeyc May 7, 2009

    There are also services online that help you with the sales, coupons and ECBs.

    I've been using thegrocerygame.com for 3 years now. I always save 50% or more on what I buy. CVS usually 70-90% off using ECBs.

    I don't clip the coupons till I generate my weekly list (what a time saver). I don't search the ads for sales and then find a coupon - they do it for me (big time saver). The list does include things that have do not have coupons, such as produce, meats and seafood, dairy, etc.

    I think it is hilarious the people who go in a grocery store and pay full retail. I've even heard of some people saying that they think coupons are beneath them or mean you are poor - and they were poor.

    I see coupons as a form of money, and a lot of times I get stuff I NEED for free!!!!

  • CestLaVie May 7, 2009

    just laura:

    Sorry.....just a little old-fashioned in my stereotypying. I guess there are female dentists, but never heard of a male dental hygienist. Must be the small world I revolve around in!

    Funny how maybe you missed the point of marketing brainwash though. It's alive & well & prevalent & making billions at your expense.

  • CestLaVie May 7, 2009


    I'm NOT saying Faye is not a nice, generous, helpful person. I know she is because I took one of her classes about 3-4 years ago & I got to see her in action then.

    I tried her system, spent many hours clipping coupons, watching for sales, trying to keep the coupons organized, throwing away coupons when they expired, clipping more coupons, trying to keep up with all the coupons I'd acquired, waiting for sales, etc., etc. Bottom line....when you work 40 hrs a week, coupon clipping is one thing you can let go as a time waster, when you're pushed.

    I usually shop at Lowe's Foods, not HT. Waiting for Lowe's to have triple days was like waiting for water to boil. I guess HT shoppers had a better go at it.

    For ALL the effort, as previously said, I find it easier & less time consuming to just buy store brand or buy in big quantities at BJs.

    So all of you can keep on supporting your coupon junkie sister. She's made it an art.

  • Bee Happy May 7, 2009

    I'm a coupon junkie too. I taught myself and it's really very simple. I also never pay for toothpaste, deoderant, mouthwash, deoderant, etc and neither does anyone in my family, or friends, my daughter's dorm buddies, etc. Even though my finances are tight I can still give much needed items to different womens shelters, abuse victims and other causes, I throw in (free) toothbrushes and toothpaste to my tree angels. I also manage to get free (or nearly) dog & cat food, treats etc which I donate to animal shelters. It does consume a lot of time but for me, knowing I can help people & pets in need, make me happy & rich. She's charging ONLY $20? This knowledge is worth much more.

  • expat in Brazil May 6, 2009

    Hey kbo80, you do not know this person. She is my neighbor and I can tell you that she does not have "too much time on her hands". She is a hardworking Mom and has the same family and day-to-day issues any of us have. She is letting folks know how to go out and save money when times are tight for some. If you do not want to know how to do it or participate then don't. It's a free country. Oh, and last time I saw her, she had both hands and was juggling life quite well with them.

  • Seeminglyopposed May 6, 2009

    But if you can get the name brand products for .25 with a .75 coupon that is tripled. then why would you be concerned if it is name brand or generic. I shop HT when they have the triple coupons and they save a bundle. They come about every other month with it, so just be ready and it is well worth the wait, and the majority of the time, a sell is being ran on the same products that they have ran coupons for leaving you with great bargins. But you have to be willing to use maybe more than just one kind of name brand item to make the coupon situation work for getting an item for free or almost free.

  • tlh13 May 6, 2009

    It's great when you can use a coupon for something and don't have to pay full price. Heres my problem. They don't give you coupons on generic products!! I hardly ever buy name brand products. Heres why....her purchase for toothpaste is 2.99, well you can buy a tube a toothpaste for .97 cent and it is the same thing as the 2.99 one. And it will last with 5 people in the house brushing 3 times a day 3 weeks. The no name products are just as good as the name brand. So unless they start sending me coupons for the ones I use I will not pay 2.99 for a tube of toothpaste.

  • kbo80 May 6, 2009

    She has too much time on her hand.