Money Makeover at the grocery store

WILMINGTON, NC (WSFX) – People often ask us to teach them how to save money.  Many people think couponing is too hard, too time consuming, or just too crazy.  Some of you want to learn but don't know where to start.  We're here to tell you that saving money is fairly easy.

We took one woman on a shopping trip at Harris Teeter that she says changed her life.  You could call it a money makeover at the grocery store.

Cindy Zappolo said she wanted to learn how to coupon because she needed it.

"I am unemployed right now," said Zappolo.  "I was laid off from work.  I thought I wasn't going to be able to pay the rent.  I did have my power shut off once."

Zappolo asked us to show her how to coupon, so we put her in touch with coupon blogger, Amanda Ferrell.  Ferrell runs the blog, The Frugal Beach Bum.

"We sold our diner, and I wanted to be a beach bum" said Ferrell.  "And I couldn't do it without a salary."

Ferrell said she started couponing four years ago but has been perfecting the craft of it for about the last two years.

"I've cut my grocery bill in half," she said.

After a crash course inside the grocery store, Zappolo tried to find some good deals to see if saving money was something she could do.  Ferrell gave her some coupons and a plan.

It only took a few minutes for it to start clicking.  Zappolo filled her cart with freebies and other things she could get for a deep discount.  By the end of her shopping trip, she had a cart full of potatoes, milk, butter, Vidalia onions and more.

After a few minutes, Zappolo had reached the store's 20 coupon limit for doubling.  At Harris Teeter, the store will double up to 20 coupons a day at a .99-cent value.

Her total before any discounts was about $77.  Once the store's rewards card kicked in, she saved an additional $20.  With coupons, her final price was $10.80.

Zappolo was nearly in tears at the checkout.

"I was so happy, I couldn't contain myself!" she said.  "I just think people really need to learn how to do this because they can save so much, especially if they're struggling like I am.  This is $60 that I saved.  This is $60 that can go towards a bill now."

Editor's Tips:

If you want to start saving money, we've given you a few tips in the past.  The best thing to do is start small.

  • Learn one store.  If you have a Harris Teeter or a BILO, start out there.  Couponers favor those stores because the policies are friendly, plus they offer many freebies.
  • Buy Sunday papers.  Those are the best places for coupons and tend to have higher values than Internet coupons.  Buy your papers in two.  This comes in handy for B1G1 deals.

Another way to save money is to learn the store's electronic coupon program.  For example, Harris Teeter has a program called e-vic.  If you register your store rewards card (are you a VIC card holder?), go to and sign up for "e-vic."  From there, you can select e-coupons for your VIC card.  They will automatically come off at checkout, and they stack on top of any coupons you've cut out from the paper.  Couponers love e-vic because it often gives them extra freebies.  It's also a great and easy way to save money for those who will never clip a coupon.

Got any questions?  Suggestions?  Send them here.

Also remember, coupon ethically.  Don't dumpster dive, don't copy coupons, don't clear a shelf because you found a good deal.  Remember the deal must be good for the manufacturer, the store, and the customer for the savings to continue.

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