Extension's couponing classesCouponing emerged as a popular Kentucky Extension program more than two years ago, and class attendees remain interested in learning about saving strategies and budgeting. Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension agents continue to offer couponing classes. These classes teach how to control coupons instead of being controlled by them. Kentuckians are eager for the information due to the popularity of couponing as well as the status of the economy.

Extension's couponing classes generally consist of information about menu planning, shopping list techniques, how to decide which items are needed and will be used, where to find coupons, how to match up coupons and sales to get the best deals, and how to organize coupons. Class attendees learn to use their knowledge of sale lengths and coupon cycles to buy only items that last about 12 weeks. These classes are not meant to teach "extreme couponing" or how to stock the home like a grocery store. Attendees also learn proper shopper etiquette, including how to be organized with coupons at check out.

Brooke Jenkins, Magoffin County Extension Agent for FCS, met with other interested consumers in a Couponing 101 leader lesson this past spring. The training revealed great interest in couponing, so a group was established that was dedicated to sharing information about coupons on a regular basis. The Magoffin County Extension Couponer's Club was formed to meet once a month, starting in April.  Anyone is welcome to attend and participate. They meet for one hour a month, dedicating the first 30 minutes to coupon clipping and sharing. During the final 30 minutes, an educational lesson is taught.  The group also has a Facebook page to share money saving tips and information between meetings.  Members have shared "wish lists" for coupons so other members can clip and share.  Every month, participants are asked to record their total savings. While only a few participate in this, over $1,000 in savings has been yielded thus far. 

Extension's couponing classesKatie Alexander, Breckinridge County Extension Agent for FCS, taught a Couponing 101 class in her county and surrounding counties, with a turnout of 30 to 50 people per session.  Due to demand, two classes were scheduled in both Grayson and Hardin counties. Ms. Alexander also currently hosts a Coupon Swap once a month with about 15-20 people. They exchange coupons, share ideas, and tell savings stories. One attendee has volunteered to take people to a major grocery chain in an adjoining county as a field trip. She goes shopping with other attendees and helps them learn in a hands-on approach how to save money using coupons and sales.

Jill Harris, Todd County Extension Agent for FCS, recognized that families needed to adjust spending habits to pay monthly bills and to save money for emergencies.  To help families learn how to use coupons better, she held a Couponing 101 class. Topics for the class included making a meal plan, creating a master shopping list, making a product price book, finding and organizing coupons, coupon etiquette, finding resources, knowing store coupon policies, and stock piling.  Ninety-eight people attended the class.  A three-month follow-up survey indicated an average savings of $171 per family by using coupons, which would equal approximately $750 a year per family.  One-hundred percent of survey respondents reported using coupons regularly to save money on their grocery bill and said they were saving an average of 17.5% on their weekly grocery bills.  One hundred percent also reported being able to save more money since attending "Couponing 101."

The lure of saving money remains strong, and participants are documenting a positive impact from their participation. Class attendees will continue to clip away their grocery expenditures, coupon by coupon.

Posted October 27, 2011