Tanya Scissorhands

Tanya Florin experienced one of those little thrills recently that only the coupon-conscious can truly appreciate.

She had just purchased four boxes of cereal and four bottles of coffee creamer at a Rochester store. The price? Not one red cent. Better yet, the transaction had netted her two extra dollars.

Such is the magic of coupons.

"It just seems so odd. Don't you think it seems strange? To walk out of a store without paying any money?" this Rochester mother of three asked. "So, there is this thrill."

Odd, indeed. Yet not so strange, says Florin, who believes such deals should be regarded as the norm, not the exception. Indeed, it's an article of faith with this coupon-savvy consumer that nobody should have to lay down money for personal care items ever again.


No excuses

To spread the word, Florin has launched a blog — — to share the gospel of how coupons can significantly improve a family's finances.

Florin's blog aims to convey several basic points. One is that coupons are no longer the old-school province of coupon-cutting grandmas. Blogging, Facebook, mobile devices, the Internet and technology have transformed the world of coupons, multiplying the opportunities for savings.

Still, she also combs through two newspapers, including the Post-Bulletin, for coupons.

Another point is that coupons, done in a disorganized, non-strategic fashion, can be an enormous waste of time. That's where her blog aims to help. By centralizing information on coupons in a single site, her blog seeks to take the legwork out of using coupons.

Products on sale and the coupons available are categorized on her blog by store. Just click and print the coupon.

"You have to be an organized person," she said, at one time leafing through a binder filled with hundreds of coupons, with tabs for drinks, dairy, snacks, breads and condiments. "If you're spending hours upon hours doing this, it's not really a good deal."

Florin's blog is by no means the only coupon site out there. There are literally hundreds of such sites, and Florin often mines them for valuable information, posting items on savingsidebyside and linking back to the original blogs.


"I post on my blog the things that I think are important to people like me," Florin said.

Florin, 38, wasn't always so enamored with coupons. There was a time when she was dismissive of them. Part of the reason was that for many of the early years of her and husband's marriage, money was plentiful. Living in Hawaii, both she and her husband, Heath Chung, worked. There were no children yet to support.

When her husband decided to accept a fellowship at Mayo Clinic, Florin had to quit her job. She also had a baby and became a stay-at-home mom, changing the financial picture significantly.

The change in circumstances was also an adjustment for Florin. Once a major contributor to the household's finances, she now found herself "spending all the money" and not doing as much "adding to the pile."

Toothbrush coupon started ball rolling

Her awakening to coupons' money-saving potential was, she says, a "random kind of thing." One day at the dentist office, she was handed a bag containing toothpaste and floss. Also inside was a $1.75 coupon for a toothbrush. That got Florin to wondering: What kind of savings might be had if she also found a toothbrush on sale?

What started as a minor incident turned into an epiphany. The more she researched, the more intrigued she became at the savings potential.

Coupons can be a bit overwhelming. Florin says her husband would at times question the need for all the shower gel, soap and toothbrushes she was accumulating.


Florin said her husband bought into the idea once she began showing him the receipts and the amount of savings they were getting. Florin also marks the items she buys for free with a big "F," again illustrating the power of coupons.

"Once you realize the power you have just by doing some research, you can never look at things the same way," Florin said. "I can't go into a grocery store now and pay full price for something that I know I can get for cheaper with a coupon and a little research."

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