Photo courtesy of Annie Mueller and Mike Catania
Couponing and deal hunting may not seem romantic, but they can be enjoyable and productive for couples. Take a tip from these three money-saving partners and discover how being frugal can be more fun when you team up.
Super stackers Mike Catania and Annie Mueller
“I’m an avid couponer and over the years, I’ve slowly turned my less-obsessive girlfriend, Annie, into an excellent money-saving teammate,” says Mike Catania, 36, founder and chief technology officer of PromotionCode.org. The Las Vegas couple has known each other since 2008, but didn’t start dating and couponing together until January of 2015. They save an average of 40 percent on most everything by coupon and deal stacking as much as possible.
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Saving strategy: Divide and conquer
Annie Mueller, 32, is in charge of saving money on groceries, and Kroger is her favorite place to game the system. Buying only food that’s on sale is a key strategy. She preps for her weekly shopping by loading online coupons to her Kroger rewards card through the Kroger app.
“Then I print a list of what was scanned to my card so I remember which coupons I have,” she says.
Timing is important, too. In the summer, for example, she’ll shop on the weekends because that’s when Kroger rewards its members with double fuel points, which result in a discount on every gallon of gas she buys at participating gas stations.
Catania handles household goods, with Mueller’s help. To date, the best deal the couple has pulled off was a $1,600 70-inch Samsung TV for $400. “We went to Best Buy with a competitor’s ad for the TV and Best Buy matched their sale price,” Mike says. They then applied a coupon for 50 percent off one item. “If you’re a Best Buy rewards member, they’ll offer you this coupon once a year,” Mike says.
What do they do with their savings? “We’re big travelers,” says Mueller.
Last year, they used $15,000 of their coupon savings to spend a week in Cinque Terre, Italy. “Couponing makes vacationing more enjoyable,” she says. “You don’t feel like you’re going to get back home and wonder how you’re going to pay your cellphone bill.”
Photo courtesy of Dian and Aarn Farmer
Wal-Mart warriors Dian and Aarn Farmer
In 2008, when the economy went kaput, Dian and Aarn Farmer were broke. “We were youth pastors with four kids and we always had other teens around who were eating us out of house and home,” says Aarn, 42. “It was a bad scene.” Fortunately, a parishioner showed them how to coupon. The Arlington, Texas, couple has been saving 50 percent on their weekly grocery bill ever since.
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Saving strategy: Max out the savings at Wal-Mart
“It has the cheapest prices out of the gate,” says Aarn, who made a career out of it. He started the site GroceryShopForFreeAtTheMart.com as a result of his savings success.
On Sunday, Aarn buys 10 Sunday papers for $1 each at his local Dollar Tree. “I cut out all the coupons from the inserts that I’m going to use and place them in a coupon wallet,” he says. Then, on Wednesday, when the sales circulars for their local grocery stores are published, Aarn uses the Flipp app to create a comprehensive online shopping list. Sale items from every store in the Farmers’ neighborhood get added to the app. Dian, 53, plans menus around those sale items.
The Farmers then head to Wal-Mart with their smartphones and only buy sale items. In their area, Wal-Mart will match a competitor’s lower price. Then, they apply a paper coupon to each sale item and scan the QR code on their receipt into Wal-Mart’s Savings Catcher app to snag any savings they may have missed. Savings Catcher will compare the price you paid with a local competitor. If it finds a lower advertised price, you’ll get an eGift Card for the difference.
The Farmer’s system has not only slashed their grocery bill, but has also helped them lose weight. Since 2015, when the Farmers stopped buying “junk” carbs, they’ve lost more than 250 pounds combined.
“It’s possible to eat well and not spend a lot of money on food,” Aarn says. In their current three-person household, they spend about $75 per week on food.
Photo courtesy of Veronica and Kelby Green
Thrift store bargainistas Veronica and Kelby Green
With two young daughters under age 3, diapers and daycare are big expenses for the Greens. Fortunately, the Houston couple has been able to shave their household expenses by 50 percent over the past year.
Saving strategy: Shop at secondhand outlets
“In the last eight months, we haven’t bought any clothes from other than a thrift store,” says Kelby, 33, a content marketing executive. “It offers better value. I can get 10 polo shirts for what I might pay for one new one,” he says. His best deal ever: a pair of new-used Cole Hahn leather shoes for $6. Veronica, 28, favors garage sales.
“We recently spent $10 for a secondhand desk,” Kelby says. The couple isn’t averse to refinishing used furniture. Their youngest daughter wears hand-me-downs, too.
As a result of their dual thriftiness, the Greens are not only making ends meet, they’ve made big dents in their student debt.
“I started with $42,000 in student loans. I’m under half that right now,” Kelby says. “Veronica started with a balance in the mid-20s and she’s under $17,000 right now.”