The considerate couponer, saving hundreds of dollars

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When I get in line, the light goes out.

Taye, my favorite checkout clerk at the Northridge Publix in Oakland Park, knows the drill. With a cart overflowing with groceries and a fist full of coupons, I take about a half hour to check out.

This leaves a string of impatient, muttering customers behind me. I've been known to buy their silence with $5-off coupons, but shutting the light was a better solution.

Anyhow, I always double down on savings using Publix's coupon-friendly policy, posted at Publix.com/Coupon. My all-time record is $450.

The Lakeland-based chain allows shoppers to combine a manufacturer coupon with one store or competitor coupon (Target and Winn-Dixie are two) on each item including buy-one-get-one-free sales. You can use up to four coupons on two items on BOGO, getting them for pennies.

It takes time to redeem coupons because store and competitor savings must be subtracted manually at the register.

The goal is to also save more than I spend. I've redeemed more than 100 coupons in one shot and I have 7-foot-long receipts to prove it.

Shopping early on Sunday mornings, when the store is nearly empty, minimizes stress for everyone.

Organizing coupons allows for smooth checkout, too.

First, manufacturer coupons go into one pile. Publix and competitor coupons go into another because they have to be manually subtracted from the bill. I secure both piles with clothespins, in my coupon shoe box along with scissors, pens and a calculator. Coupons are in envelopes organized by aisle.

When open, the lid of the savings-stuffed shoe box serves as makeshift desk.

Filling in prices on free product coupons also saves time so Taye doesn't have to stop and look back among scanned items to find prices.

That trick saves scads of time and also is appreciated by the clerks.

Fortunately, not all shoppers in lines are impatient coupon haters.

More often than not at the register, I attract an audience of wannabes looking for tips on how it's done. They marvel as the savings climb higher and higher.

A few weeks ago, a woman left her line, annoying customers waiting behind her, as her order was being checked, to watch my live version of "Extreme Couponing."

After a few minutes, the clerk called her back to complete her order.

The light was on.

$10 off at Macy's

Grab the coupon inside Sunday's Sun Sentinel for $10 off a $25 purchase at Macy's Labor Day sale. It's good until 1 p.m. Sunday and Monday. Use it on sale, clearance and select home goods.

"Like" my Sentinel Deals fan page on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.
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