Expert Interview with Kyle James on Couponing for Mint

Kyle James is plenty busy; he's a father of three. But in addition to keeping track of the kids, he also runs Rather Be Shopping, one of the most comprehensive deal sites on the web. He spoke with us about finding a good deal and how to get the most out of your coupons.

How did Rather Be Shopping get started?

I was slinging drugs as a pharmaceutical rep back in 2001, very tired of all the travel; I came up with a website that listed coupons and deals for a slew of different online stores. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing, but knew I wanted to work for myself at some point. Rather-Be-Shopping.com was born. After a huge learning curve, the site started to gain popularity due to some good publicity and I was able to run it full-time starting in 2003.

There seems to be quite a diversity of coupons out there. Have they become more commonplace?

They have become commonplace for folks like me who hate to pay full price for anything. People that apparently enjoy being ripped off are still clueless about how easy coupons are to use these days. Technology has a lot to do with this. You can easily pull up coupons on your smartphone when checking out, scan a product with a price comparison app to instantly find the best price and print coupons from home. The days of sitting at the kitchen table for hours clipping coupons has come and gone. Gotta figure in your time to the whole equation and use technology to make saving money and time your top priority.

What makes a coupon stand out for you?

A coupon for a particular retailer stands out to me only when I was planning on making the purchase anyways. People tend to get caught up in the "hunt" for a great deal that they end up overspending just so they can use a coupon and theoretically save some money. The TLC show Extreme Couponing takes a lot of blame for this, in my opinion. Use coupons to better your financial situation, not as a way to stockpile 85 bottles of hot sauce and 34 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.

When should a shopper pass on a coupon?

Always pass on a coupon when you'd end up spending more than you were planning on just so you can use a coupon. Example is a coupon good for 15% off your $50+ order. If what you want to buy only cost $30, don't go spending another $20 on crap you don't need just to save a few bucks.

Do you combine coupons with any other savings strategies? If so, which?

Heck yeah, I do! Beyond couponing, my favorite savings strategy is learning to "crack the price tag code" at many major retailers. For example, if the price at Costco ends in .99, you're paying full price. Ends in .97, it is a discounted price. Shelf tag has an asterisk in the upper right hand corner, the item is discontinued. So when shopping at Costco, look for items that end .97 and have the asterisk - by far your best deal. Other stores like Target, Sears, Kohl's and Home Depot have similar internal pricing system that you can use to your advantage. Crack the code, throw a coupon on top of it and be a money-saving rock star.

Where do you see couponing heading in the future?

Look for couponing to get even more technologically advanced. Look for mobile technologies to lead these advancements. Things like location specific coupon targeting are just now starting to be introduced. You'll be walking through your local mall and your smartphone will be able to tell you where to shop in order to save the most money. It will also be able to tell you where you should never shop. The consumer wins in all the future scenarios I can think of, which is a really good thing. The future is bright in the world of couponing, and your wallet is going to grow fat because of it.

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