When it comes to extreme couponing, no one messes with Jai Russell when she does her seven-hour shopping day around Fredericton – least of all her husband.
“He stopped going with me. I’m a little frantic: don’t mess with my system, don’t get in my way, don’t screw it up; it’s like the show, you get a little nasty.”
Those long shopping days are really the only time Russell has for herself being a stay-at-home mom and wife.
“A lot of girls have girls nights out and they go out for drinks or dancing. My nights out is: my husband stays home with our daughter and I get to go couponing.”
Russell has a four-year-old daughter, Lexi, and is five months pregnant, so being able to sneak away to coupon is something she can do to relax.
Russell started couponing only six months ago and is already teaching a couponing class once a month. Her top tips are: always browse the clearance sections, make sure you look at the flyers and make a pricing plan ahead of time.
Russell also has trading nights at her house where her couponing group gets together.
“A lot of people are really stingy with their coupons and I find it really offensive, like if you don’t want it, then who cares?”
She has traded coupons by mail with people as far away as British Columbia .
Russell pulls out a large navy binder weighing about five pounds, full of coupons.
She uses the binder to help her stay organized.
She divides them up into 10 categories of baby products, shampoos, house cleaners, soaps related to laundry and dishes, bathroom products, medicines, teeth products, random products, food and pet products.
“Usually around the 20th of a month I will pull out next months coupons.”
By doing this, Russell knows if she needs to use or trade some of her coupons before they expire.
Getting products for free is nothing new for Russell.
“I get stuff for free all the time.”
Russell had boxes of men’s Old Spice deodorant in her closet and in her basement.
The deodorant is regular $3.29 and Pharmasave, she explained, had it on sale for $1.29. Russell had a $3 off coupon when you buy two and since the sales price was still less than $3, she got all the deodorant free. So, she took half the shelf from Pharmasave, and half at both Walmarts in Fredericton. This was one of many free stories she had.
Many stores know exactly who she is when she walks in with her binder shoved under her arm.
“I will go into certain stores and they will be like, ‘Oh, the coupon girl is here.’”
But by taking the time to organize and coupon, Russell has filled two closets upstairs in her house, a pantry and shelves upon shelves full of products in her basement.
“I can spend hours just wandering up and down Walmart double-checking clearance sections. It’s the greatest thing for me, it’s my mommy alone time.”