ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
During a shopping trip to the Ellsworth Commissary, Feb. 22, two spouses were able to put their couponing skills to use when they saved 80 percent on a purchase that originally totaled $116.28.
The pair purchased 79 items for $27.53.
"I've been doing this for about six months and I've saved nearly $600," said Whitney Burgett, administrator of the Ellsworth Coupon Cutter page and wife of Airman 1st Class Tim Burgett, 37th Bomb Squadron offensive avionics system technician. "It takes a lot of time to set up, but the savings is worth the effort."
For several spouses on Ellsworth Air Force Base, the effort has led to them taking time from their daily activities to incorporate coupon clipping.
United in their quest to maximize savings, the spouses have banded together to form a Facebook group called Ellsworth Coupon Clippers, which is dedicated to finding great deals at Ellsworth's Base Exchange, Commissary and other stores in the local area. Their philosophy includes using coupons to purchase items that spouses would need anyway - such as food and clothing, in an effort to save money.
"My goal is to save more than 50 percent every trip," said Mrs. Burgett. "The money I save can go toward paying bills, buying stuff for our house or even a family vacation."
Mrs. Burgett takes her coupon clipping very seriously. When she goes shopping, she carries a three-ring binder full of coupons. The binder is organized into sections to make finding coupons easier.
"When you shop at the commissary you never know how much the items will cost, because their prices change," said Mrs. Burgett. "We always take our binders with us when we go."
A large part of setting up the coupon binder comes from research and organization. Mandy Morford, fellow administrator of the Ellsworth Coupon Cutter page and wife of 2nd Lt. Alan Morford, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron officer-in-charge of plans and integration, said she scans the newspaper every Sunday for coupons.
"I go to the BX early every Sunday to make sure I get a newspaper, before they are all taken," she said. "Once I gather up the coupons I start scanning the weekly ads to see who has the best sales; then I pair my coupons with those deals."
Mrs. Morford said she always looks for coupons that will pay her to take the item off the shelf. The Commissary will take the remainder from a coupon overage and apply it toward the entire bill. She said her couponing has allowed her to donate overage items that she doesn't have room for in her house.
"I had coupons for $1 off boxes of pasta that the commissary was selling for 75 cents," she said. "I special ordered the pasta from the commissary, used the coupons and donated the boxes to the first sergeant Diamond Mart, an organization that provides essential items to base families in need. With the remainder, I was able to get pasta sauce for free."
Both Mrs. Morford and Mrs. Burgett said they try to donate items they get for free, as well as leave coupons on store shelves that they don't plan on using.
"We call it the 'coupon fairy,'" said Mrs. Burgett. "If there is an item we don't need, but we have a coupon for it, we will leave the coupon behind for someone else. There's an unwritten coupon etiquette whenever we go shopping. For instance, we never clear off an entire shelf of items."
Mrs. Morford encourages Airmen and spouses to look into couponing as a means of saving money and building a stable financial future.
"Make sure you have the time to do it and the room to stockpile the items you purchase," she said. "And be patient, because there is a learning curve associated with couponing."
For more information on Ellsworth Coupon Clippers, check out their Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/28thBombWing#!/home.php?sk=group_163996323627806