Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paper article!!

Below is the article that appeared in a local paper here in GA!

Local coupon mom shares strategy
Published: 01 September 2010
Article PDF

Michele Helms has an assortment of groceries splayed on her kitchen table, everything from salad dressing to diced tomatoes to cereal and wheat bread. And she only paid a jaw-dropping $10.80 for it all.

Janet Pelletier | Ledger-News.

She didn’t have to beg, borrow or steal. It was all in the art of coupon clipping. She’s become a sort of guru in it.

The Woodstock mom of five and her husband have a full-time ministry. Through that, she began speaking about women’s issues, more specifically the topic of modern-day families and the importance of everyone eating at the dinner table despite their busy lives.

“A lot of families find themselves at a drive-through or sitting in front of a television because they feel like, to prepare a meal and to sit down with their family, is just something you did in the ‘50s when you had more time or when women didn’t work as much,” Helms said. “I think that’s a myth. There’s lots of ways with proper planning. Planning sets you free. You think it won’t but it does.”

Free is the operative word, as Helms regularly finds deals on items at the grocery store where she doesn’t have to pay a cent. She credits a girlfriend of hers, who encouraged her to start clipping coupons.

Helms said she used to be vehemently opposed to coupons. In fact, a book she wrote, “Time around the table,” which stressed the importance of family dining, featured a chapter about saving money in which she said “as a rule, I do not clip coupons because I find most are junk and prepackaged stuff.”

Her friend was persistent and eventually, Helms gave coupon-clipping a try, vowing if it didn’t pay off, she would write it off for good. She’d always considered herself frugal, having lived on a shoestring budget her whole life.

“I thought, I’ll give it a month. If I don’t see something significant in a month, I’ll stop,” she said. “That was about three years ago and it’s unbelievable.”

Helms said she spends $5,200 a year on groceries and toiletries, and estimated the average family spends more than double that, $12,000, on just groceries.

“The real thing I tell women is this: I could probably feed my family of seven on $50 a week if I had to, and feed them a lot of pasta and you know, just cereal,” she said.

“For us, on $100 a week, I can feed us well and a lot of good-for-you stuff, tons of fresh stuff and good meats,” Helms said.

It all starts with the Sunday newspaper, where she said she gets 90 percent of her coupons. She buys four papers and simultaneously opens them side by side, scissors in hand.

The Internet has also been a big help, as she said she uses a Web site,, which lists the deals for the week at the local grocery and drug stores. Armed with her deals of the week, she then pairs that savings with coupons.

“I sit down, and I look at the things and I say to myself, would I use this if it was free or almost free?” she said.

She then files the coupons in a bin that has dividers for different categories.

“What I’m doing is, I’m basically waiting for the items to go on sale because almost everything you see on (my kitchen) table here has a six-week cycle, where it goes back on sale,” she said.

When it does go on sale, she stocks up, storing the rest she’s not going to use right away in a cabinet or the freezer.

Recently, she bought 10 loaves of wheat bread for 39 cents apiece. “I’m going to make batches and batches of French toast that I put in the freezer, and my kids can pull out and pop in the toaster,” she said.

Another tip she suggests is finding grocery stores that offer double coupons. At least one major supermarket offers double coupons up to a 50-cent limit per coupon.

Instead of sitting down to prepare what she’s going to make for dinner for the week, she said she first takes an inventory of her kitchen and decides what meals to make based on that.

“There’s almost always fresh stuff I’ve got to add,” she said. “But because I save so much on the other stuff, when I add the fresh things that we use, that’s where the bulk of my $100 a week goes.”

Helms recommends people stick with their favorite store because each one will have a cycle of sales it runs.

Helms, like many others, felt overwhelmed with coupon clipping, but she got the hang of it.

“Most people don’t realize that it’s really this easy, and they feel very overwhelmed,” she said. “I learned it myself; anybody can do that.”

She spends 45 minutes preparing for the store and saves about $150.

Because she feels so strongly the benefits of coupons, she gives free seminars to groups.

“I show people routinely how to cut $400-500 out of their grocery budget a month,” she said. “For us, being full time in our ministry, it’s been a lifesaver. We showed a woman whose husband had to take a pay cut and she had her two children in private school and wanted to keep them there. She completely did it by cutting their grocery budget.”

Helms will be teaching a free class titled “Time and Money Saving,” on Sept. 28 from 7-9 p.m. at First Baptist Holly Springs, 2632 Holly Springs Parkway, in Canton.

For information, call (770) 345-5349. For more information on Helms, visit her blog at the Driven to Encourage Ministry Web site,

1 comment:

Gwynie Pie said...

Go girl !!! How exciting that you were given such great exposure in this article. What a wonderful ministry. Blessings,

Gwynie Pie
@ The Pink Tractor

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