April 29, 2004 -- -- Stephanie Nelson is a coupon clipper extraordinaire, doing a job that most people can't be bothered with, and saving a bundle.
"Supermarket owners know that 98 percent of coupons are thrown away," Nelson said . "Most people can't be bothered going through the papers, looking for the store's sales and clipping coupons. They think it will take too much time and it will be too much trouble. That's why the markets call people like me 'ultimate deal finders.' "
Nelson's Web site, www.thecouponmom.com, shows users how to drastically reduce the cost of their grocery bills by using coupons.
Nelson, of Marietta, Ga., hopes satisfied shoppers will share their savings or a few of their purchases with local charities, which are also listed online.
To show off her coupon-clipping savvy, Nelson went on a shopping trip with "Good Morning America."
"GMA's" correspondent scoured the store's shelves for bargains, sans coupons, while Nelson used her tried and true coupon-clipping plan. Both she and the correspondent had the same shopping list.
It quickly became clear who was the savvier shopper. While the correspondent thought she was doing well by purchasing buy-one-get-one-free pasta, a store special, Nelson was able to get that same pasta for just 10 cents by using a coupon, together with the store special.
"You really want to wait to use your coupons when the item is on sale," Nelson said. "That's how you save 80 to 90 percent."
At the end of the shopping trip, "GMA's" total was $77.97. Nelson's pre-coupon total was $112. But by combining coupons with store specials, she managed to get the price down to $36.85, saving $85.
"I don't care how smart you shop, you can't get any better than that," Nelson said.
Instead of clipping and filing coupons immediately, Nelson writes the date on the packet of coupons that come with her Sunday paper and sets them aside. "Then I look for the best deals lists that my grocery store publishes each week," Nelson said. "If I see a great deal for a product I use, I go back to my circular, find a coupon, clip it out, and go shopping."
On a recent shopping trip, Nelson managed to get a half-gallon of Tropicana Orange Juice for 49 cents, saving $3 off the regular price by using a coupon and buying it when it is on sale.
For people who don't want to take the time to match coupons to store sales, Nelson's Web site, www.thecouponmom.com, does it for them. The site's virtual coupon organizer is kept current with help from volunteers, who provide information on grocery sales in 18 states across the country.
"You find your state, find your store, and with a few clicks, you can create a list of groceries and great deals," Nelson said.
Nelson started cutting coupons 10 years ago, hoping to save money so that she could stay home from work to be with her children.
But when she learned of her local food pantry's problems, Nelson decided to turn her coupon experience to work for those who really need help putting food on the table each week. On her Web site, created with help from Georgia Tech, Nelson encourages consumers to offer some of their extra savings to those in need whenever possible.
Find out how you can get involved in helping those in need, while saving money on your own groceries, at www.thecouponmom.com.