Ah, the good old days… For extreme couponers like Natashia Derkach of Lexington, that means five years ago before major grocery stores enacted restrictions to limit savings.
You can understand their motivation when you consider Derkach’s very first foray into major couponing.
After diligent research and weeks of collecting coupons, she descended on a local grocery story and shopped for nearly 10 hours.
Derkach, a single mother of two boys with a daughter expected in July, filled six grocery carts with non-perishable items.
Her haul included diapers, toothpaste, shaving cream, trash bags, hair dye, Swiffers, dishwasher soap, air fresheners, window cleaners, Ziploc bags, paper plates, laundry detergent and paper towels.
She even bought dog food despite having no pets. She donated the dog food to the Humane Society.
The total bill was close to $3,000. After spending three hours in the checkout line with her coupons, Derkach received her bill – 79 cents.
That’s not a misprint.
She paid less than a buck for three grand worth of stuff.
The receipt was so long, Derkach wrapped it around herself – a couple of times.
How happy was she? She still has the receipt.
Here’s her manifesto:
“Even if I was a millionaire, I would still coupon,” she said. “Using coupons is a rush because I’m saving money. There’s no reason people need to pay full price.
“I love saving money. Who doesn’t want to save money?”
Derkach rattles off some of her other greatest hits at the grocery store.
She once paid a $1.94 for $184.49 worth of feminine products. (She has the receipts for proof).
Another run of non-perishable items cost her $86 for $375 worth of product.
Recently, she ran into a store and bought a box of Huggies that were marked down from $24.99 to $17.99.
Because she had a $20 off-your-next-purchase coupon she walked out of the store with the Huggies and nearly two bucks change.
How does she do it? First it takes tons of time – a couple of hours a night to search websites and file coupons.
She also has a partner in arms – Lisa Smith of Lancaster. The two share resources and often shop together.
“Having a partner helps a lot with expenses,” Derkach said.
And there are start-up costs.
The tools of her couponing trade include:
– a filing cabinet for all those coupons
– a laser printer (you need a good one to print unblemished bar codes on coupons from the Internet);
– extra refrigerators;
– extra freezers;
– tons of storage space (a big basement helps)
– Lots and lots of coupons
When Derkach first started, she collected coupons from newspapers. It helped that a relative worked at a local newspaper and saved sheets and sheets of coupons for her.
When she realized that the Herald-Leader distributed a free coupon insert, she traveled door-to-door in the neighborhood (and a few other neighborhoods) to secure extra coupons.
These were the days when stores allowed double couponing and set no limits on transactions.
When those rules were changed in the stores’ favor, many couponers quit.
She’s ever vigilant when it comes to savings.
Do you want to follow in her footsteps?
Here’s her advice:
– Collect newspapers
– Follow coupon websites (krogerkrazy.com, iheartkroger.com, coupons.com are a couple to get started)
– Shop sales not the coupons. (Be on the look out for grocery store megasales and add coupons to what’s on sale.)
– Do your research
– Know store policies on coupons.
– Get a partner.
Two sales savvy heads are always better than one.