Expert Interview with Brittanie Pyper on Couponing for Mint

While adopting a frugal lifestyle has plenty of benefits - reduced stress and a healthier savings account to name a couple - it does require time and effort.

"Saving money isn't always easy and it can be frustrating at times, but the outcome is so rewarding to know you can provide for your family without having to struggle or put yourself into debt," says Brittanie Pyper, founder of Bargains with Brittanie.

Brittanie herself began her bargain-hunting journey four years ago, after her son was born just 32 weeks into her pregnancy. She quit her full-time job to become a stay-at-home mom. Not only was it tough caring for a premature baby, but she said going down to one income made it tough on her family financially.

To help relieve some of the burden, Brittanie started hunting for ways to save money, which included seeking out the best deals and utilizing coupons on every purchase they made.

"Once family and friends saw how much I was able to save and how I was able to help our family without the need to bring in any additional income, they wanted to learn how they could do it too," she says. She started her site as a resource for them and others who wanted to be more frugal.

Here, she discusses her passion for couponing and offering experts tips and tricks for saving money whenever you shop. Read on:

Have you always been frugal? What excites you about saving money?

I've always been frugal in one way or another, since I was taught at a young age how to shop for deals and use coupons. However, it wasn't until I became an adult and experienced that financial stress first-hand that I was really driven into being frugal in any and every way I could. Saving money is the most exciting thing because I know I am contributing to my household by getting my family their wants and needs just by being responsible with the money we currently have.

What's different between the type of couponing you do and those of us who clip a few deals out of the circulars in the Sunday paper?

The type of couponing I do is a bit extreme. If something is not on sale and I cannot find a coupon, I simply do not purchase it.

I think what people don't realize is that coupons are not just for things you can find in a grocery store. There are so many ways to save money, and if you take the time to search, you can find a coupon on just about anything and everything. It is not about purchasing items because you have a coupon; it's about combining the deals with the coupons to maximize savings.

How much time do you spend looking for coupons and deals before your average trip to the grocery store? What are your go-to planning resources?

On average, I spent about six to eight hours planning my shopping trip on a weekly basis. I use a variety of resources, which include some very popular money-saving websites along with my own and printable coupon databases. I believe the key to saving money is to use as many resources as you can find, and the web is full of them.

What advice do you have for keeping all of those coupons organized?

Create a system that will work for you. Not all organizational systems work for everyone, so deciding the system that works best for you and your needs is a must. Once you've decided on your organizational system (I use the coupon binder system), just make sure to dedicated an hour or two a week to clip and organize your coupons so you don't fall behind.

What are some insider tricks of the trade that every wannabe couponer needs to know?

Combine as many money-saving resources as you can. Combine sale prices, coupons, cash back on purchases, rebates and price matching to maximize your savings. I have resources on my site that explain how to do this in further detail.

Outside of coupons, what are some of your other methods for saving money at the grocery store?

The two biggest methods are shopping clearance and taking advantage of price matching. Just about every store has some sort of clearance going on all the time. By shopping clearance, you're getting the best deal without needing to use coupons (if you have some to stack on the clearance, it's a bonus). Price matching is a great tool to use because you can get the best price possible without needing to drive all over town to get it.

What advice can you offer on saving money or finding great deals on...

...Clothing? Shop for clothing with the next season in mind. For example, shop for winter clothing in the summertime, when most items will be on clearance or heavily discounted. If you are shopping for children, just purchase sizes they will fit into around that time.

...Entertainment? Wait towards the weekend when companies will release coupons and weekend deals to get the best deals on entertainment.

...Household goods? Shop for household goods around major holidays or when those items are not so in demand. Dollar Stores are great places to shop for cleaning supplies, and now most Dollar Stores accept coupons to increase overall savings.

...Travel? Book far enough in advance where you can save the money for your trip. Many travel agencies will also allow you to make payments up until a month before your vacation date. I like to plan and save for at least eight months in advance so when it comes time to take my vacation, it is paid in full and I avoid using a credit card and ultimately getting into debt.

What has been your favorite advice/tip/idea that a reader's shared with you on frugal living?

It's honestly just been the overwhelming support from my readers. They are also encouraging me to continue doing what I do, and they contact me to help share deals they have found. I have a really great support system, so that makes what I do even better.

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