Couponing class shares tips to help shoppers save

By Olivia Willoughby

Those useless coupons now have a purpose other than being stuffed in the bottoms of handbags and trash bins.

Kelly Champion, creator of Northern Illinois Couponing Moms held a class at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak Street. Their goal is to share couponing tips and help families save money.

Champion has couponed for 16 years and shared several mistakes people make when they try to coupon.

“People just collect a few and they’re getting at the bottom of the purse,” Champion said. “They have to get out of the purse, out of the house and into something.”

Letting coupons sit around the house is another mistake. Champion said people need to use them before they expire and when the item is on sale.

A big mistake people also make is not using coupons on things one does not need.

“If you can get something for free, even if you can’t use it, donate it,” Champion said.

Donating “free” items to churches give otherwise wasted coupons a purpose.

Prior to couponing, Champion said she spent $120 each week on groceries. Now, she spends between $42 and $48 each month.

“It’s because I coupon,” Champion said. “It allows me to focus on other things, like stocking up on meat.”

Getting coupons can be difficult, because Champion said some newspapers have 20-page booklets while others only have a few pages.

“The Tribune without a doubt is your best bet,” Champion said.

Going to stores one is comfortable with makes it easier. Champion said not to take on stores one has never visited.

Also, shop in the clearance aisles, not the main ones. Coupons can be used on clearance items, Champion said.

While she encourages to stock up on items, Champion said not to buy thousands of items or clear shelves like in TLC’s “Extreme Couponing”.

“Nobody needs 5,000 bottles of detergent,” Champion said. “It makes me crazy when the lady cleared a shelf. It took a lot for me not to yell at the TV.”

Champion encouraged creating a stash instead of a stockpile.

“It’s a corner of my laundry room,” Champion said. “I don’t have toilet paper under my daughter’s bed.”

At the end of the class, Champion gave away stacks of coupon booklets.

Donna Martin, research development specialist, said she enjoyed Champion’s class and wanted to get more into couponing.

“I have seen those extreme couponing shows and you don’t want to get in over your head with this stuff,” Martin said.

Edith Craig, public relations and programming coordinator for the library, also thought the class was beneficial, especially for those new to couponing.

“I like that she catered to our grocery stores, giving info about Schnuck’s and HyVee,” Craig said. “I coupon very minimally. I’ve clipped coupons for things I buy, which may change after this class.”

Champion said anyone can start couponing, including her 4-year-old daughter and her son who is currently in college.

“I encouraged him and his friends to start,” Champion said.

Despite meal plans and Huskie Bucks, students will eventually live on their own. Champion said learning how to use coupons now is important.

“There’s also personal supplies to get,” Martin said. “Couponing is for college students too.

Champion said she wanted to get a “college corner” started. Here, she can share coupons for college staples like microwavable food and easy recipes.

Champion’s website,, has several resources for those interested in couponing. It has couponing lingo and a Coupon 411 section for beginners unsure where to find coupons and how to start saving.