Workshops, classes teach realistic strategies on couponing craze

People find ways to save through different mediums


In response to the economic downfall, the coupon craze is all the rage for students who want to make a dollar go further.

Schools such as Southwestern Illinois College, John A. Logan College and SIUC are participating in the action as well.

“Couponing is in high interest right now,” said Sue Tyler, program coordinator for Community Education at

Sarah Buto, a junior from Lake Zurich studying cinema and photography and theater, clips coupons Friday in Kellogg Hall. Buto said she started clipping coupons at home with her mother and continued when she came to college. Pat Sutphin | Daily Egyptian

SWIC. “We are trying to help students not only save money but gain a new hobby, gather knowledge and develop a new interest.”

Couponing Cents is the newest noncredit class at SWIC that has been offered the last three semesters. From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, students are taught shopping strategies that will help save them hundreds of dollars a month.

Anna Dowell, instructor of the course and creator of Couponing Centsibilities on Facebook, said she got into couponing to save money and take control of her health.

“My husband is in the military and my mother is sick, and with two kids money is tight,” she said.

Dowell, an SIUC alum, said she learned her couponing tricks by attacking it like a research paper. She said she followed coupon blogs and tips on YouTube to find the latest deals and keep her coupons organized.

At SWIC, Dowell teaches students how to organize, plan, clip, file and shop with coupons. She also educates them on legal and ethical issues, such as how to talk appropriately to store managers and not to photocopy coupons and clear shelves of a certain product.

Tyler said taking a coupon class or attending a couponing workshop is beneficial to students because everybody can use it.

Last November, SIUC’s Craft Shop hosted Dart into Saving, a workshop that focused on the practice of extreme couponing. The $6 class was led by Rachel Taylor, a graduate student from West Frankfort studying workforce education and development. She shared her tricks and techniques to get must-have items for less or even free by using coupons.

No couponing workshops have been scheduled for this semester.

Sarah Buto, a junior from Lake Zurich studying cinema and photography and theater, said she is a fan of couponing.

“I do see a difference in the money I save, especially in clothes and electronics,” she said.

Buto, who gets her coupons from newspapers like the Daily Herald and the booklets 710 Bookstore gives away at the beginning of each semester, mostly uses them at grocery stores and Walmart.

She said she uses coupons on anything from food to basic needs, such as cosmetics.

Buto, who is busy with studying and working as a stage manager, said she doesn’t find couponing to be too time consuming.

“I usually do it in the morning while I eat breakfast, so I’m multitasking,” she said. “It takes me 30 minutes or less. It doesn’t take hours to do like some people think.”

Tyler Seeds, an undecided freshman from Fresno, Calif., said he is one of those who finds the process too time-consuming.

“Couponing is hard and takes too much time, so I never do it,” he said. “I don’t get a booklet of coupons and I know the newspaper is usually where they are, but I want easier ways to get ahold of them without searching page after page.”

If time constraints and attending a workshop is an issue, there are other choices students can make to help stretch their dollar.

According to NCH Resource Center, with mobile and Internet coupons available to the public, consumers saved $2 billion with coupons through mid-year 2011, up 5.3 percent from the first half of 2010.

The top iPhone apps for couponing, according to Mashable, a social-media news blog, are Shoppe, Coupon Sherpa, Amazon Mobile, Compare Me and Save Benjis.

Despite the benefit of using coupons to save cash, the class isn’t merely focused on getting supplies for free, Dowell said. She said it’s more about doing what you can in a failing economy.

“The point of the class is to teach kids to live within their means,” she said.

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