Susan Samtur considers herself to be the original "Coupon Queen." She's been couponing for over 40 years, has been featured on numerous talk shows, started a magazine called Refundle Bundle and wrote four books on how to shop with coupons.
"My most extreme example [of couponing] was $735 worth of grocery items," Samtur told In The Know. "My final cost after giving in all my coupons was $49."
Couponing requires a lot of patience and strategizing. Not only does the shopper have to dig through both printed and electronic sale coupons, but he or she also has to check expiration dates and store policies, plus determine whether the item is necessary.
Samtur started couponing in 1973 with her husband because they had just bought a house and were earning teachers' salaries — which, at the time, was about $10,000 per year. Her first year couponing she saved $1,500.
"It was really quite an experience," Samtur said. "This was a whole change in my life and career."
Samtur wanted to help more people like her, which is why she started her magazine. Once that gained notoriety, she was invited on shows like "Good Morning America" and "The Merv Griffith Show" to talk about how to use coupons to save hundreds or thousands of dollars while shopping.
Samtur's best advice for beginner coupons is to start off slowly. "Don't let it overwhelm you, because if you do, you're going to stop."
Samtur starts out by reviewing the coupon flyers that get delivered with her newspapers. She loves to look through the printed version so she can touch everything and see all the sale items right in front of her.
Another tip is to buy non-perishable items in bulk — anything from laundry detergent to toilet paper to hand soap, when Samtur sees there is a sale, she'll download the coupon to her store card.
Her best advice, however, is to maneuver the system so that you're using the coupon while the item is on sale. That's when you get the best deal — but it requires a lot of patience and work.
"It's important to start couponing, even if you start small," Samtur said. "Even if you just save $5 a week, it's something that you do yourself, it's something that you accomplish yourself and you do as much or as little as you can work into your everyday existence."
According to Samtur, even if you end up spending $100 a week on groceries and save $20 a week for a year from couponing, that's over $1,000 in savings.
"You don't want it to dominate every single thing that you do, but you do want to save."
Watch the full episode of In The Know: Extreme Lengths above to learn more about the original coupon queen, Susan Samtur.