Special report: Extreme couponing made easy

Stories of extreme couponing are everywhere… Getting a full cart of groceries for just pennies.

But the reality is most of us don't have the time or resources.

"I have three sons, I am married and I work in a salon, pretty much part time, and I'm also in school full time," said Jennifer Maturino, Broken Arrow resident.

Maturino is like many women – she just doesn't feel like she has time for couponing.

"I see stories about how much ladies save and I want to save that much too because, you know, five people in a household, it's a lot of money," said Maturino.

Without knowing where to start, couponing can be difficult, which is why Maturino is stumped.

"I've tried to do it on my own and I think I go out of my way, buying products I wouldn't normally buy and I probably end up spending more money than I would have just shopping normally," said Maturino.

So to get an expert's advice, we checked in with the Penny Princess.

Alicia Herrington lives in Broken Arrow and has a house full of kids and a full-time job.

"I enjoy finding the deals," said Herrington.  "I enjoy finding the different printable coupons, the free item, I love doing that."

Herrington knows it can be time consuming but she says there are ways to simplify the process.

"You really want to start small, you don't want to try and be extreme," said Herrington.

She says if you can devote an hour a week to scanning ads, planning a menu and clipping coupons, you can make a big dent in your grocery bill.

"It will be longer in the beginning, but when you start to get the hang of matching up what you want to buy for the week and matching up with coupons, you'll get the hang of it," said Herrington.

Her advice: look for sales in your weekly grocery mailers, use those to make a grocery list and plan a menu for the week.

"Everybody gets that junk mailer that you usually just throw away, there are coupons in there," said Herrington.

Once you know where to shop, look for manufacturer or store coupons, especially ones that match the items already on sale, and don't deviate from your list.

"A lot of coupons are online," said Herrington.  "I have three different coupon online sites just hooked to my website.  You can go right to them."

Herrington's website, Penny-Princess.com , matches up coupons with sales.

Another big tip from Herrington is to visit stores that price match, like Target and Walmart.

"I was able to get 20 bottles of Axe body wash," said Herrington.  "They paid me $3.40 to take them out of the store, because I price matched.  I used a Drug Warehouse ad that was buy one get one free and then I used two $1 off coupons."

Herrington suggests a few other tips as well.

Try buying coupons online for items you want to stock up on.  You can do this on websites like ebay.com .

"You're not buying the coupons, you are paying for the time of the individual to cut the coupons for you, to get the coupons together and to ship the coupons to you," said Herrington.

Also, brand loyalty may not be practical.  Shop for products you can get the best deal for, even if it's store brand.

"If you are a loyal brand user then you need to watch for that specific sale and that's when you do want to stock up on it," said Herrington.

According to Herrington, it's best to shop with all of your ads in hand, so even if you don't find the best deal at the store where you are shopping, you may be able to price match.

"Take all of your ads with you, have it price matched and use your coupons.  That is where you are maximizing your savings," said Herrington.

With summer on the horizon, it may just be the perfect time to put some of these tips to use.

"I'll be having my kids home for meals, I'll be spending more money, so I'd like to learn something to get me ready," said Maturino.

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