South Charlotte

Clippers are serious about their coupons

SouthPark Coupon Clippers are serious about saving money - and having fun.

The group convenes usually at 2:30 p.m. on the first and third Sundays of each month to swap coupons and exchange money-saving tips. But there's plenty of laughter because the eight to 12 women who typically show up also enjoy socializing.

Meetings used to be at the Morrison Regional branch of the public library and attracted more interest, but reductions in library hours necessitated that the club find a new location. For now, they meet at the two-story McDonald's restaurant on Fairview Road, across from SouthPark mall.

At a recent coupon swap, scissors, thick coupon notebooks, and envelopes and Ziploc bags of coupons blanketed downstairs tables in a corner beneath the staircase. One of the women was there with her mother-in-law; another brought her sister.

Members are diverse, ranging in age from young moms to retirees.

They're united by a desire to educate themselves on savvy shopping, and using coupons to reduce their expenses.

There's no charge to participate.

On a recent Sunday, Kasey Woodfin, 61, served as volunteer hostess, a job rotating among members in the club. She says to forget everything you've seen on reality shows about people who go to couponing extremes. This group takes a more moderate approach.

No one has an excessive stockpile of goods stashed at home, though some have smaller accumulations of items for personal use or charitable donation.

Lisa Huntington, 31, is a regular at meetings and maintains a blog where she writes about how to factor couponing into a busy schedule and dispenses money-saving pointers. Huntington also teaches a related class. There's a $50 fee - discounts are available - for the class, which includes a how-to booklet; sessions are held Tuesday evenings in Cotswold.

Huntington says careful couponing entails buying only what you need or have a specific purpose for - advice many of the women share - and making the best use of the money you have.

Candace Henricks, 32, is the mother of a 16-month-old and says she's been using coupons to save on diapers and groceries. She generally aims to save about 40- to 50-percent off her total store purchase with coupons and discounts.

Stephanie Hoffman, 40, is one of the group's original members. It's important not to get overwhelmed thinking about deals you're missing, according to Hoffman. She likes to focus on one main goal.

Hoffman, who toted a large red coupon binder, advises couponing newcomers to adopt a certain mindset. "It's a marathon, not a sprint," Hoffman said. She says her couponing practices have meant she doesn't run out of things she needs as often.

Hoffman says now's a good time to check product manufacturers' websites for coupons to purchase ingredients required for holiday baking.