Turning savings into blessings

Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Extreme couponer Carol Dosey gives away several baskets of excess food each week to people in need.

Extreme couponer Carol Dosey gives away several baskets of excess food each week to people in need.

Carol Dosey knows how to stretch — and share — a dollar.

As a single mother with five teenage daughters and a beagle, Dosey has always clipped coupons to save a few bucks here and there. But since moving her family from Pennsylvania to Suffolk last May, she has become a self-professed “extreme couponer.”

“Walmart hates me,” said Dosey, sitting at the dining room table of her College Square duplex in North Suffolk.

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Behind her, metal shelves are lined with part of her coupon loot: a dozen jars of spaghetti sauce, two dozen boxes of pasta, five jars of peanut butter and much more. A shelf that wraps around the laundry room is stocked with a year’s worth of detergent and fabric softener.

A couple of days a week, usually when she is able to find discounted meat and vegetables, Dosey fixes baskets and bags of food to give people in need. Sometimes it’s a neighbor going through a tight spot; often, she turns to Facebook’s Suffolk Online Yard Sale page and offers it on a first-come, first-serve basis to anyone in need.

“I look for bargains,” said Dosey, thumbing through a thick purple binder of coupons, carefully organized by product and expiration date. “And I want to help people who are in the same boat we are.”

“There have been times I’ve gone without so my kids would have enough to eat,” she said.  “It’s scary … because it makes you feel like a failure as a mother. As long as the kids are taken care of, I don’t want much in life.”

On Sundays, Dosey and her girls — Melissa, 20; Brittany, 17; Mary, 17; Angel, 16; and Annie, 15 — spend the day clipping newspaper coupons and planning the week’s menus based on the coupons. Between store sales, manufacturers’ coupons and taking advantage of double coupons and online store deals, Dosey estimates she gets roughly $2,000 worth of groceries with her $800 grocery budget.

“I like being able to bless someone else by giving away the extra,” said Dosey. “It’s karma. I never know when I might get sick and need the help in return.”

These days, Dosey is teaching others how to coupon. Since she has started her grocery giveaways, she has been flooded with requests on how to use coupons more efficiently.

A few pointers, courtesy of Dosey:

  • If you are brand loyal, you are not going to save money. You need to buy according to what’s on sale.
  • Shop early in the day and early in the week, when the sales stock is most plentiful.
  • Print out the store’s coupon acceptance policies, learn them and take a copy of them with you into the store. When a cashier has questions about the use of certain coupons, you will be able to show them policies easily.
  • Have a list of your favorite stores and find out if and when they double coupons. Some stores only do it certain days of the week. With that information, you can plan when to hit specific stores.

Dosey is also offering couponing classes at the Starbucks inside Kroger Marketplace for $10. For information on the classes, email Dosey at couponersthatcare@gmail.com.