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How One Mom Saves 80 Percent on Almost Every Purchase

Clipping coupons is a way of life for this thrifty mom

Amara Mahmood is inspired by her children to clip coupons and save money whenever possible. Photo provided by Mahmood.
Amara Mahmood is inspired by her children to clip coupons and save money whenever possible. Photo provided by Mahmood.

Written by Sarah Cocchimiglio

Before she became a stay-at-home mom, Amara Mahmood clipped a coupon or two here or there, but saving wasn’t a big priority.

Then she had a baby. Then she had two children.

“Seeing how much diapers and wipes cost made me wonder ‘How can I cut costs?'” Mahmood said.

The 29-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., mother of two says that saving 80 percent at the checkout is normal for her, which she does by matching store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons for things that are already on sale, making them really cheap or even free. She also tries to shop at stores that offer coupons back or have a loyalty discount, like Walgreens or RiteAid.

“Most people save a few dollars with coupons or sales,” she said. “For me, it is typical to pay $20 for $100 worth of items in a drugstore.”

She started a blog and a Facebook page as a way to show her family how she saved so much. Over time, she has garnered thousands of followers, and is earning a little income from her blog.

Don’t Fear Frugal

“Why not cut a coupon?” Mahmood asks. “There is nothing to be ashamed of. I have had people laugh at me because of my couponing, but why is more money in your pocket something to be ashamed of?”

She suggests starting small. Focus on one approach and move forward. Don’t try—or expect—to save 80 percent on your first shopping trip. That takes practice and a major investment of time. Instead, celebrate small savings achievements to stay motivated to keep going.

“Get excited about saving $1!” she said. “Then, when you save $50, you’ll love it!”

Feedback = Freebies

“I usually email companies and tell them what I think of their products,” Mahmood said. “The trick is to be honest. Sometimes they thank me for my feedback, [and] sometimes they send coupons.”

Sometimes, nothing happens at all, but it’s worth the effort. She sends at least one email a day from this list, and it’s generated her lots and lots of coupons and freebies, not to mention the gratitude of manufacturers.

Here are Mahmood’s smart spending tips:

  • Make a list. If you know what you need, you’ll be less tempted to impulse-buy.

  • Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. If you don’t need it, you’re not saving anything.

  • Cook at home. You can prepare a meal in your own kitchen, at a fraction of the cost of eating out.

  • Buy fruits and veggies in season. Prices are lower compared to imported produce.

  • Find the Sunday coupon preview online. If there are good coupons you can use, you may want to consider buying more than one newspaper.

  • Swap coupons. Mahmood and her mother trade coupons for cat food and diapers. Trade unused coupons with a neighbor or a friend, or join a coupon-trading group.

About this series: As part of our Smart Spending reporting, Patch is profiling people across the country who have found creative ways to save money. If you're a smart spender, we want to hear from you! Share your story here.
Richard Light October 03, 2013 at 11:30 AM
More power to you for savings
Dave Larkin October 03, 2013 at 07:52 PM
If that is true, how do companies stay in business?
Ginger Obromowitz October 04, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Because for every 1 Mahmood, there are 1000 people NOT couponing at all...
Elliott Fisher October 04, 2013 at 06:00 AM
Dave, they make a fraction less but they're still making out on them or they wouldn't have them available. Remember, they price the amount they're deducting off (25c rather than 50c) - not the Mahmoods...

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