SPECIAL REPORT: The Tough Times Lifestyle Part Two 

Like most families these days, times got tough for Tracy Green.”I have a family of five and we have five pets. It gets expensive,” she said when she sat down with us at the TV 5 studios.Green was spending over $200 a week on groceries and other necessities. But that changed when a friend introduced her to couponing. She admits was reluctant at first.”You can save 50 cents, a dollar here, there it’s not really worth you time,” she said. But when she learned how to coupon the right way, she started seeing results.”I started cutting my household expenses in half.” It’s become more than an activity, it’s a weekly routine. Each Saturday, Green picks up the paper.”One store starts their sale on Friday and the other starts on Sunday.” Then she turns to the internet by logging onto a website that offers free coupons.”I start pairing up my coupons with that and plan my trip.” The coupon has been around since the early days of newspapers, but never like this. While couponing has received a new life thanks to television shows, Green insists you won’t find her clearing shelves.”There’s no need to clear shelves to stock up for years at a time, dedicate rooms to stock pile, it’s not necessary and it’s borderline hoarding.” Instead, she’s sharing the wealth. She formed a local chapter of the group “Clipping for a Cause” to spread the couponing craze and give back.”We also send our expired coupons to a military base overseas because they’re good six months pass their published expiration date.” Green puts the money she saves into funds for other expenses.”I try to teach my kids now so that when they get to college they’ll be sitting in their dorm rooms eating steaks, while their friends are eating Ramen Noodles.” While some may believe couponing hurts stores, Green says that’s not the case.”It’s a little bit of extra work for the store because they have to send the coupons in to the manufacturer, but they get reimbursed for that amount on the coupon so they’re not losing money.” Stores like Bells IGA in Orono embrace the couponing trend.”We do have our own coupons and our own ads,” said Assistant Manager Jeremy Pratt. Consumers looking for other ways to keep pinching those pennies are attracted to the independent grocer’s low prices.”It can never be too low. If I could give it away, I would, if I could make a profit doing it,” he added.It’s also a way to support local businesses.”If it’s local, we usually try to show the people that we’re buying their products, local companies, compared to buying it out of the country,” Pratt said. The money you’re spending there is actually going back to Maine’s economy.So consumers aren’t only keeping themselves afloat, but their neighbors too.After we sat down with Tracy Green, she went on a shopping trip at a drug store.What would have cost her $149, came to $75 after coupons.The Bangor chapter of “Clipping for a Cause'”will meet on February 19th at the Hope Lutheran Church on Union Street in Bangor from 1 pm – 3 pm.You can also check them out on Facebook, by clicking here.