Everyone is looking for ways to save money these days, and Carol Ransom has turned it into a science. Using coupons and bargain shopping, she and her husband save an average of $1,500 per month.
“I got into couponing 40 years ago,” explained Ransom. “It started with the use of one tear pad coupon on a grocery store shelf. It worked no problem and I was hooked. My husband and I coupon and bargain shop together.”
After all those years of couponing, Ransom has a lot that she has learned that she now shares with students through her 90-minute classes, “Coupon with Carol.” She teaches them at Publix in Smyrna.
“My in-person couponing class is planned out aisle by aisle,” Ransom said. “I pick items that most people use that are on sale. I do have special requests for dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and allergies. I can plan a great list for any diet. I teach at Publix because the BOGO’s ring up half price in Tennessee. All coupons are provided to my students by me for the class. Between the coupons and the other tips and tricks that I teach, my students save 60% or more.”
It does take some work. A coupon binder is essential. Ransom offers binders to her students and followers that have ten labeled sections and sturdy coupon holders to keep the coupons easy to see. The binders can be purchased the day of class, through porch pick up at her home, or she can ship one anywhere.
The next step is collecting coupons. Ransom gets the majority of her coupons by contacting companies that offer them. She has created a list of more than 700 companies that offer coupons through the mail, directly on their website or by signing up to receive them via email. She also finds coupons on packaging, tear pads and “blinkie” machines near a product in the grocery store. Interestingly enough, she rarely uses the coupons found in Sunday papers.
“My coupon inventory is pretty impressive,” noted Ransom. “I am ready for any special requests that my customers want in a couponing class. I even have a tee shirt that says ‘There’s a 99.99% chance I have a coupon.’”
Other ways she and her husband save is by using rebate apps such as Ibotta, Shopmium, Fetch, Shopkick, Merryfield and Swagbucks.
“The electronic gift cards that we earn by using these apps pay for most of our Walmart runs and Amazon purchases,” added Ransom.
She is not an extreme coupon-er who has a basement filled with massive stocks of things she has acquired with savings, but she does have a large stand-up freezer so that when she gets a great deal on frozen items and meat, she has plenty of storage.
“I have small stockpiles of laundry detergent and nonperishable food items,” said Ransom. “I don’t have as much of a toiletries stockpile as some [items] have expiration dates, such as toothpaste and deodorant. When I have an abundance of free shampoo and body wash, I donate to organizations, friends and family.”
For those wishing to learn from the master, she has posts on her Instagram page with hints on how to get started and information on how to sign up for one of her classes. She knows that a good coupon mentor can make all the difference by teaching how to keep it all organized. Something Ransom learned in the military. She says that once everything is organized, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of effort. Ransom “clips coupons” on her various apps while she is drinking her coffee in the morning.
And the payoff, she feels, is worth it. Since 2011, she and her husband have saved more than $225,000, averaging about $19,000 per year.
“The most I ever saved in one grocery shopping trip using coupons was $120.00,” added Ransom. “I had over 100 coupons in that transaction.”