Julie Bertrand / Independent reporter
Blame it on the economic downturn, or on the very popular American TV show. One thing is sure: couponing is rising in popularity, so much that it gave local resident and business owner Julie Caron the idea to start a Facebook group called Stettler Couponistas.
“Within the first 48 hours, we had over 60 members, almost 70. It kind of snowballed,” said Caron.
In the page’s message board, members share ideas, trade coupons and let each other know the rules of couponing.
“We get our coupons from several different places. One of them is smartcanucks.ca,” said Caron.
“They have a very thorough list of different websites where you can get coupons and different sales that are happening Canada-wide. They cover a lot.”
Caron credits Andrea Hatch with getting her started couponing. As for Hatch, she says couponing has been running in her family for generations.
“I believe it’s a family thing, because I don’t remember a time that my dad actually paid full price for anything,” said Hatch.
“Shopping with my grandmother used to be a torture, because she was the original couponista really. It was a three-hour ordeal in one grocery store.”
Hatch believes that the popularity of couponing has also been caused by the companies offering increasing rebates.
“For a long period of time in the 1980s and the early1990s, it really wasn’t viable to coupon because the price was not right. You were getting coupons for 25 cents, 30 cents, or 50 cents,” said Hatch.
“For anybody to look at the price point and to look at the amount of work we had to do, it really wasn’t worth it.”
Both women encourage people that are interested in couponing to join their Facebook group.
“Andrea will be offering a couponing course in September through the Adult Learning Centre. That’s also a good place to start,” said Caron.
Hatch believes that most important thing in couponing is organizing yourself properly in the beginning. Her coupon binder has dividers and page protectors.
Both women are very quick to distance their kind of couponing to what is seen on the TV show Extreme Couponing.
“I don’t see the sense in extreme couponing. Why would I ever want to have 63 bags of potato chips,” said Hatch.
“I spend as little time a possible couponing. I just get coupons for what I need,” said Caron.
Moreover, there are more restrictions in Canada on what is legal when it comes to couponing.
A lot of what is seen on the TV show would be considered fraudulent in Canada.
“One of the things that people don’t realize you can’t buy a coupon in Canada. In the United States, you can,” said Hatch.
“It’s illegal to sell them here on eBay. It’s written in the small print on the coupon.”
Stacking coupons, in which people use many coupons for one item, is also more restricted in Canada.
“When you’re couponing, you need to know the rules and policies of each store,” said Hatch.
“If you play by their policies, you can do a lot of things. But each store sets its own rules.”