Cabarrus

Learn to get the most out of all your coupons

Search the Internet for the word "coupon" and you will find thousands upon thousands of blogs, Facebook pages and websites.

In this sluggish economy, saving money has become stylish, and couponing now is one of the most popular methods of getting a good deal.

I recently heard about a local woman so good at couponing that she will be featured on an episode of TLC's reality show "Extreme Couponing" next season.

Michelle Barnette of Concord explained how it all started.

"I have couponed on and off since 2004, but I became very serious with it in 2009," Barnette said. "My husband was laid off from his job, and I was devastated. ...

"The very same week we got the news that he was going to be laid off, I found out that Harris Teeter was having triple coupons (the store would triple the value of any coupon). So I went shopping every day that week and got really great deals for hardly any money," she said.

"I was so excited about that experience that I started searching about coupons and found websites that matched the sale ads with the coupons, making it easier for me to coupon."

Now Barnette redeems coupons anywhere from two to seven days a week, depending on what sales are going on.

Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Barnette does all the shopping for her husband and two children, so using coupons has been a huge help with the family budget. In addition to creating her own stockpile of goods, Barnette also has donated to Kitty City, the Cox Mill High School football team, Second Harvest Food Bank and victims of the devastating Alabama and Missouri tornadoes.

Now, to help others get the kinds of great deals she gets, she offers couponing classes.

"I started my classes in January of this year," Barnette said. "When people started learning of my coupon skills, they would always say, 'You need to do a class on this and teach people how to do it.'

"My classes offer people the basics to get started in couponing.," she said.

"The learning doesn't just stop with my classes. I am always around to answer questions, either through my website, Facebook (or) email, and I will even do one-on-one shopping with people that are very eager to learn," she said.

I asked Barnette where she finds her coupons.

"I get all of my coupons from the Sunday Charlotte Observer," she said (shameless plug, I know, but that's what she said), "and sometimes I will order from coupon-clipping websites.

"The best advice I can give is to attend one of my classes and find a way to organize your coupons that works best for you," she said. "It is very important to stay organized. If you don't ... it will be very hard to coupon, and you could miss out on some good deals."

For more information on her classes, as well as blogs and coupon links, go to www.northcarolinacouponqueen.com or search for "Extreme North Carolina Coupon Queen" on Facebook.

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