What started as a way to save money turned into an addictive hobby for Miami Dade College employee Lorraine Wright. The program director for Single Stop at Kendall and Wolfson campuses started couponing three years ago when one of her students introduced her to the hobby.
“My first year, I saved $1,000,” Wright said.
On September 2013, during her first couponing trip to CVS, she went armed with coupons in hand and bought reams of paper that were retailed at $5 for only 50 cents each. Soon she realized how much money could be saved by couponing efficiently.
Her hunts start with securing various couponing resources, such as the newspaper and coupon flyers, from stores like Target, Publix and Walgreens. She then compares what coupons they have in common and selects the place where the coupons will benefit her the most, keeping in mind the coupon policies of each store. Wright dedicates about eight hours weekly to pre-planning before going on shopping trips.
“There are times where I have combined store coupons with manufacturer coupons and gotten items for free,” she said. “I coupon on my vacation. I am that addicted.”
Wright usually buys items in bulk, allowing her to maximize her savings. She stores the excess supplies in her house, categorizing them by item and use. When she acquires too much of an item, she makes care packages and donates them to those in need.
“I started to donate to the homeless independently to and from my ride to work,” she said. “The products I get for free aren’t really rightfully mine, so it just seemed like the right thing to do to donate.”
She also started couponing workshops for MDC students and staff, as well as other organizations, in an attempt to increase knowledge and financial efficiency. Wright recently held a workshop for the Educate Tomorrow Resource Center at the Edgewater neighborhood, called Surviving College Through Couponing. About 20 Educate Tomorrow scholarship recipients attended the most recent workshop, each with the goal of saving the most money to put toward other expenses like tuition or gasoline.
Wright showed the students in the audience receipts documenting that she only paid taxes and cautioned them to be careful of where one gets coupons from.
“There’s such a thing as dumpster diving, going into recycling bins and grabbing the coupon booklets out of there,” Wright joked. “I tell my attendees that they should do that and not steal coupons from their neighbors’ mailbox or from dirty garbage.”
Wright’s upcoming workshops will be held at Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave, Room 7128, on Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“I wish I knew how to coupon when I was in college,” Wright said. “It adds up.”