Mom Interviews

Kathy Spencer, founder, "How to Shop for Free"

Couponing guru and savings queen

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For Kathy Spencer, clipping coupons is more than just a money saver -- it's a money maker. The Massachusetts mom of four founded an online community called "How to Shop for Free," in which she helps more than 1,000 members make the most of their money. The members post links to online savings, swap tips and tricks, and share information about sales in their areas as well as some really inspirational stories about great savings deals, but Kathy really takes the cake. She is able to stockpile amazing amounts of household goods and groceries without spending a dime out of her own pocket -- check out her post on on how she "bought" a year's worth of toilet paper for free. She took a little time recently to share some of her couponing wisdom with Work It, Mom!

What led you to start couponing?

I always have used coupons and had an eagle eye to spot a deal anywhere I went since I was a child, It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized I could take my coupons to a much bigger level. I had always used coupons for items I would by regularly but as I started pairing what coupons I had with what was on sale vs. using a coupon for what I normally was brand loyal to, I soon discovered if I had more $1 off coupons for items that went on sale for $1, I could get a stockpile of that item and not pay a penny.


How did you decide to start “How to Shop for Free”?

Once I figured out the whole thing I started sharing what I discovered with friends family and a few on line coupon groups. I started to become very popular in the eyes of other couponers and got asked the same questions over and over, everyone wanted to know the same things, how I did it, how could they do it etc, etc. So that is when I decided I needed one place to post all my deals so I could stop repeating myself over and over -- and that is when I decided to create How to Shop for free. Now I have thousands of coupon loving members that also have huge stockpiles and cut there grocery bills down by hundreds. They also have so much stocked that they too spread the wealth and donate to friends family and food kitchens.

It seems like so many of the coupons you get with the Sunday papers are for overly processed junk food. How do you keep a healthy diet and still save money?

Despite what most think, no I do not feed my kids garbage. I get free fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables (as well as junk food)! I regularly get free organic food, mainly Muir Glen, Wild Harvest and Cascadian Farms through the use of coupons and sales.

29 comments so far...

  • I live in Ocala Florida I would love some help. I want to start couponing I have 9 boys and oh my can they eat!! Please help me

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Leta Ratcliff on 26th January 2012

  • Please answer my question, I have already asked 2 times, is it availabe in Ireland too? If so, which supermarkets can I use the coupons? Pls reply asap

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by marie74 on 28th December 2011


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by marie74 on 28th December 2011

  • Hello Kathy, I live here in Corpus Christi, TX. I watched PBS today 12-03-12 and I'm really amazed about this couponing but unfortunately here in Corpus our groceries are not allowing us to double our coupons and whenever there are store coupons I can't used my manufactures coupons or online coupons. We have 2 big grocery store here (HEB & WALMART). I really wanted to save on my groceries, need help??????

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by orchids on 3rd December 2011

  • Hello Kathy, I woud like to ask you, that is this available in Ireland as well?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by pa3ck on 16th November 2011

  • Nanna - Walmart changed their coupon policy in March 2011. They accept all manufacturers coupons whether or not the item is on sale. Walmart has one of the best coupon policies around. They do not allow stacking and they do not double coupons. They have no limit and they allow overages.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by LyndaA on 30th June 2011

  • I am trying a way to stop sprnding so much money on food etc every week.We don,t have that kind of money to spend.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by suzie on 30th November 2010

  • So teach me what to do....I think this is great, saving money while helping each other! What a great demonstration of American ingenuity!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by s wells on 27th November 2010

  • Hi,Walmart will not let you use a coupon with a sell item & other stores have told me the same,how do you do it? We have Walmart,Dollar General.Town and Country,Aldes,& Sop & Save. I hardly do not see coupons or sales for these stores. We have one paper around here & trust me there isn't any coupons in it. We live in the boones & it is hard.I want to fight for my family but how,where do I start?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nanna on 26th November 2010


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by BIGDOC on 26th November 2010

  • from what I have learned and know, this method of buying only works if you USE the things that you save on. To often people stock up on tons of the same thing so that they will 'save' but end up doing the same thing the next week to 'save' again. If you use the goods you buy then yes it saves in the end. but, if you do not and only continue to stock up on things you will 'eventually use' then in reality you are still spending wasteful money. I believe the theory and idea of this method of saving is good and, if you use the things you 'save' on until they run out and THEN repeat the process, then you would truly save money. If you do not use them all up before buying more you are just spending and wasting money on things you will only store away. The key is to think of an item as money not just as an object. each item equals a percentage of what you spent. Therefore, if you just store it away again and again and have more and more of an item you never use all of, in reality you are storing away money just to 'save'. Now if you use all the item prior to spending more money on the same object you do save. This is the most vital thing to remember and know while trying to save money. Not that you get the lowest price on a receipt .Get the most out of your money, may that be up front, in the quality of the item, or in the amount of use per item. The actual receipt price is meaningless if you only store you "money" away in a closet and never use it all up. You could have three bottles of ketchup in the closet that might have only cost you 10 cent each but if you do not use them before buying three more to 'save' you end up with 60 cents sitting in your closet wasted until used.So spend wisely NOT just 'CHEAP'.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by bethanyblntn on 26th November 2010

  • To the person that is assuming that she is not feeding her children healthy food, you are wrong. Yes, there are many couponers that do buy the cheap, processed foods, but not all are that way. The trick with the 1/4 lb. of meat is a good one, specially if she has more than 1 coupon off for the meat. Just buy several 1/4 lbs. of meat and use a coupon for each. Before you know it, you have several pounds for free and more than enough to feed your family. This is smart shopping. You stock up on smaller sized goods that are free and they eventually add up to more than enough.

    Back to the healthy argument, there are many coupons out there for organic/all natural products. I know this because a healthy diet is very important to me and my family and thus, we search for them. You can buy organic milk and yoghurt with coupons and while they are on sale. It gets even better when you combine your coupons with store coupons. I've gotten great deals on organic cereals, bars, whole grain pasta, organic pasta sauce etc. There are also coupons for produce, but I will admit that they are a bit more difficult to find. Either way, I got free toothpaste and body wash this weekend. Now, I have more money for healthy food options.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by hmwallace on 6th August 2010