Couponing class part of BPL series

BOURBON — Extreme couponing. The concept popularized by the TV show of the same name made clipping coupons a nationwide craze in 2010. Bourbon resident and avid couponer Valerie Manns has never seen the show, but that fact didn't prevent her from teaching a class at the Bourbon Public Library Saturday about how to get started couponing.
Manns said that she started using coupons after her husband was unable to work due to a disability. Manns now supports her husband and two children as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She explained her tips for getting the most out of coupons without breaking the law or making stores angry.
"When you're ready to start (couponing) you want to call the store, make an appointment with the manager, and ask him about that store's policies and if his cashiers know what to do," said Manns. "Out of respect as a good couponer, I don't clean a store's shelves of one item. Many times if you know you want a deal and you are going to use coupons, stores will order the amount you want and sit it aside for you. That way they don't end up having to give out a lot of rain checks (to other people who want the same deal)."
Manns explained "stacking" — using more than one coupon or discount on the same item — and names for different types of coupons. Coupons that print out when purchasing items at the register are called "catalinas" and they are usually printed based on the items purchased. Manns calls coupons that shoot out of machines attached to store aisles "blinkys" because of the flashing red light.
By combining a manufactur's coupon, a store coupon, and a store's rewards card, Manns said that she can often find items for free — or even get the store to pay her for taking an item. As an example, Manns said that she purchased a $4.99 item using a $5 off coupon and received a penny back.
"The store is paying me a penny to walk out with that item," said Manns.
She added that she has received up to $10 in cash reimbursement after purchasing items with coupons.
Manns also addressed a controversy: people who commit fraud by copying coupons.
"That's illegal — very illegal," said Manns, adding that the federal crime could land an individual in jail.
"If you are doing it the right way, most of the time you won't have any problems," said Manns. "I've never had any bad experiences with my coupons — and I've used a lot of coupons."
Manns said that in addition to purchasing multiple newspapers each day, she also gets coupons from websites like www.thekrazycouponlady.com. She also has the book spinoff from the website called "Pick another checkout lane, honey" by Heather Wheeler and Joanie Demer. The website has a handy section just for beginners and also has many store policies available to print.
Manns said her 6-year-old daughter Olivia enjoys helping her mom find great deals. Olivia regulary helps out clipping coupons from the newspaper.
"She's started to tell my husband, 'Dad, you can't get that — you don't have a coupon,'" said Manns, laughing. "I don't get everything with coupons. But it saves you money to spend on other things you need to buy."
Manns will teach a follow-up class at BPL March 17 about organizing a coupon binder.
The class will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.bourbon.lib.in.us.