Ashley works part-time at a seafood restaurant but has been so driven to find the best deals that she that she has turned couponing into a second job.
A waitress dubbed “The Coupon Queen” by her husband has told how she has slashed her weekly grocery bill by nearly £7,000 a year, simply by using money-off vouchers.
Since they married six years ago, Ashley Leverett, 29, who works part-time in the same seafood restaurant as her waiter partner, Michael, 34, has been so driven to find the best deals that she has turned couponing into a second job.
Ashley, of Seneca, South Carolina, USA, who has a daughter, Mila, three, has such a knack for spotting the best savings, that she has even amassed 4,600 followers to her Instagram account, devoted to what she calls ‘The Craft of Couponing.’
The super couponer said: “I work weekends at the Red Lobster seafood restaurant in Anderson, but spend the rest of the week couponing.
“I travel for up to 300 miles a week to shop at the stores where I can cash in coupons.
“But I’ve got down my weekly supermarket bill from around $200 (£152.47) to just $50 (£38.12) – saving around $7,800 (£6,898) a year, so it’s worth it.”
Ashley honed her penny pinching skills after watching the popular American TV show, Extreme Couponing – featuring skilled shoppers, who use coupons to make tremendous savings – often accumulating large quantities of goods.
But, known by her family for being fabulously frugal, she said social media is now the best place to pick up tips on how best to find and use cut-price vouchers.
She said: “Social media is a great place to start to learn how to coupon.”
“If you use the ISO (In Search Of) Coupons hashtag, you’ll find all the different couponers who are out there sharing their tips and advice.
“I have a network of couponing friends all over the States now. We swap tips and swap coupons, but to get the most out of doing this you have to learn the lingo.
“Then you need to find out which stores are coupon-friendly, google their coupon policy because some stores place a limit on how many coupons you can cash in per person or per shopping trip and be prepared to travel to the stores that will take the coupons you’ve collected.”
Interacting with other enthusiasts on social media also teaches those interested in learning more about the language of couponing, according to Ashley.
“Take dedicated couponing,” she said. “This means doing your research, homework and planning.
“Then there are the three types of coupons – manufacturer/brand coupons; store coupons and competitor coupons.”
She continued: “You need to work out what you can use, and when, to buy as much as you can for as little money as possible.
“Sometimes, I’ve used a combination of all three different types together and come home with money in my purse that the store has actually paid back to me!
“We call this stacking – using a combination of coupons together – and it’s something I’ve now mastered, so I get more than one discount on the same thing.”
For newcomers, once they have learned the language and gained confidence, by taking in tips offered on social media, Ashley then recommends they start looking for coupons in stores and newspapers.
Impressively organised, she said: “I have a coupon binder for my vouchers.
“The inserts are baseball card sheets, which are perfect for your coupon collection, because you can slip each coupon into the individual slots.”
She continued: “It’s a good idea too to print out a store’s coupon policy and keep that in your binder to take with you when you shop.”
Sticking to collecting coupons for essential household and personal products, including detergents, shampoos, trainer nappies for Mila and food, Ashley uses them to buy in bulk and has a dedicated stockpile room at her four-bedroom home, where she can store her free goods.
The youngest of six, with her retired parents, Glenn, 72, and Evelyn, 67, living close by, she often gifts her coupon-acquired goodies to her family – also selling them on at a 50 per cent discount at a local flea market.
“I get really excited when I have enough coupons to come home with a really big haul,” she said.
“I recently came home with over 100 packs of training pants for Mila which, with my coupons, were 99 cents (75p) instead of $1.99 (£1.50) per pack – saving me $100 (£75.)
“I’ve also stockpiled 50 bottles of a decent branded detergent, which I could not have afforded without my coupons. ”
Now Ashley’s husband is so proud of his thrifty wife that he boasts about her couponing skills to family and friends, calling her ‘The Coupon Queen.”
And, despite her tender years, Mila is in training to follow in her mum’s footsteps, as she can already spell Ashley’s favourite grocery store Publix.
Ashely said: “My mum was a keen couponer and I caught the bug, too, so it makes sense that Mila will, as well!”
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