Cut It Out
Coupon queen and extreme-savings maven Susan J. Samtur of Scarsdale
Photo by John Rizzo
What initially sparked your interest in saving money?
A house. We moved to a house in Yonkers in 1972. We were very unprepared for the expenses.
What, specifically, was it that got you hooked?
A friend told me about refunding. With refund offers, you send in a proof of purchase and get a coupon for the next product or some money back. In my very first year, I received fifteen hundred dollars in cash refunds, more than enough to pay that year’s heating bill. From there, I branched out into coupons.
Where can one find refund offers?
They’re everywhere—on tear pads in the grocery aisle, on specially marked packages, on websites, and in Sunday flyers. I also publish a monthly quarterly called Refundal Bundle that offers about four hundred different refunds a quarter. And Bed Bath & Beyond provides at least fifty different refund offers every month—just go to the store’s service desk and ask to see its list of refunds.
Where do you shop locally?
A&P on Quaker Ridge Road in New Rochelle. I find its prices just as good as at the big warehouse stores like Costco.
How much do you save on groceries each week?
I usually spend between one hundred and one hundred and twenty-five dollars a week and save between fifty and sixty percent. I save more than eight thousand dollars a year.
How much time do you spend employing your own savings strategies?
About three to five hours a week, planning my shopping list, clipping and organizing coupons—I have what looks like a mini-accordion file, and I alphabetize it according to categories, like baking, beverages, cereals, etcetera—going through the store flyer, and sending away for refund offers.
What’s the most you’ve saved on a grocery trip?
I once paid twenty two dollars for five hundred nineteen dollars’ worth of groceries—the receipt was twenty-four feet long.
Are there any items for which you won’t substitute brands, no matter what?
Skippy’s Chunky Peanut Butter and Honey Nut Cheerios—but I can usually find them on sale or with a coupon.
Were you always thrifty, even as a kid?
I always knew the value of money. I grew up in a lower-middle-class household—we always had enough but didn’t have a lot for extras.
What’s the newest big thing in couponing?
Coupon downloads to a supermarket chain’s shopper card. In these cases, you go on to the website, register your card’s member number, and the coupons you select will download automatically to your card. Then you just show the card at checkout.