Expert Interview with Mary Hoover on Bargain Hunting for Mint

Mary Hoover is an Olympic-level bargain hunter, heading up the superb deals site Mission: to Save. She talked with us about finding the best deal and how to make the best use of the deals you find.

Lots of savings on your site - how do you find them all?

Well, by nature I am a bargain hunter. So I am always searching for the next great deal. Not only for myself, but to share with my family, friends and readers. Also, this is my business - to help you save! So I have connected myself to affiliate networks, blogging support groups and other savvy shoppers who all help in tracking down the savings. I also love when my readers tell me about a deal. It brings a smile to my face when I know they are saving for their family and wanting to share the wealth (so to speak).

What are the signs of a good coupon? Are there any red flags that might make it not worth your time?

I'm not sure I would say any coupon is "not worth my time." They are like a currency and can help reduce your bottom line and help you stick to a budget. However, now that double coupons have pretty much become extinct, high-value coupons are much more coveted. Also, I guess I should say the only "bad" coupon is for a product you don't use. Just because you have a coupon for it doesn't make it a good buy (because of overall price or if you won't use the product).

Why is saving so difficult for shoppers?

Why is going on a diet or eating better so hard? It's all about creating new habits. The same goes for "saving." You have to train yourself to a whole new way of thinking about how you are spending your money and your overall buying practices. Yes, it takes a little more "work" up front, but eventually it become second nature.

What are some ways of saving that you wish more shoppers knew about?

One of my new favorite ways to buy clothing is via online consignment shops and via local Facebook barter/sell groups. The internet has taken resale clothing shopping to whole new level! Not only is it easier for me to find a deal now, it's also easier for me to make a little extra cash on selling as well.

Do you use any tools or apps to help you save when you shop?

I was just at a conference where they gave a stat about how smartphone use has increased by 30% in the last year. These devices are amazing tools for saving with many savings apps. So use that smartphone, in a smart way - to save more!

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of financial advice, what would it be?

Start a budget - now! It may seem restrictive at first, but I learned it was actually quite freeing. And once I began to really figure out "couponing" and how to save on my grocery budget, then I could spread that savings into other budget categories. We are big Dave Ramsey fans, so I highly recommend checking out his budgeting tools. It's about being in charge of your money - and telling it where to go!

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