Sharon Rooks coupons, but she's quick to point out that she isn't an extreme couponer. Instead, she approaches savings in a common sense manner.
"I don't remember not couponing," Rooks said. "I think when I moved out on my own, I started because I was doing anything to save money."
Rooks recently lead a session on common sense couponing at the Rutherford County Library. During it she shared her tips and suggestions for stretching your grocery dollars as far as possible.
"Whatever you put into couponing is what you will get out of it," she said.
Unlike television shows which portray couponers as having large stockpiles, Rooks said that's not necessary in all cases.
"There are some things I do stock up on," she explained. "I always keep a few things extra in case we need it to give as a donation or someone else needs them."
An example of what she would stock up on is toilet paper. She once found a savings on it that allowed her to buy enough to last for two years.
Rooks suggested that one of the easiest ways to get started saving is to sign up for store cards. With those, discounts offered by the store will automatically be deducted when your card is scanned. And, in many cases, you can add electronic coupons to the card as well to stack savings.
She's explored paying for a coupon service in the past, but found that for her, it's not cost effective.
"A lot of times the coupons are for products you wouldn't necessarily use," she continued. "I only get the things I think I will need."
Rooks shops once a month for herself and her daughter. Seasonings and spices can help dress up a meal or transform leftovers, she said.
"We always use our leftovers," she added. "If I make a turkey, then I'll take the bones out and make a stock."
Certain products are on sale at different times of the year. For example, cookout supplies are often on sale near July Fourth or Labor Day.
Another way to save, Rooks added, is to swap name brands for store brands. But, if there is a name brand product you just don't want to pass on, you may still be able to find a bargain.
"If there's something you love, go to the manufacturer's website and sign up for coupons," she said.
If you find a good deal on perishable items, like milk, consider freezing them.
"You'll just want to pour some of it out so it doesn't explode," she explained. "Once you're ready to use it, thaw it out and then shake it well to remix it."
For those nights when she might not feel like cooking, Rooks keeps an envelope in her purse with coupons for restaurants.
Savings can extend beyond the supermarket and pharmacy, too. Rooks shops year round for items that can be used for Christmas gifts, and watches for sales on those items as well.
"One of the best bargains I got was on an $80 video game," she said. "Someone had bought it, played it and then taken it back to Game Stop to sell back. It was less than a week old. I had a percentage off at Game Stop and a gift card ... I wound up paying less than $15 for it."
The first Common Sense Couponing Club will meet Friday, March 4, at 11:45am at the Rutherford County Library. For information, call 828-287-6115.