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Charities, family benefit from coupon clipping

November 05, 1998

Kathy SeaseBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




SHADY GROVE, Pa. - Kathy Sease is such a whiz at clipping coupons and mailing refund offers that she feeds her family of four on $100 a month.

"That includes milk and meat," said Sease, 32, of Hades Church Road in Shady Grove.

She has become so adept at shopping with coupons and other product promotions that she not only gets some items for free, she often makes a profit.

For instance, she recently bought a popular over-the-counter painkiller. The retail price in the store was $3.99. She waited for it to go on sale for $1.99, then bought it with a 75-cent coupon that the store doubled to $1.50 that day. That dropped her cost to 49 cents. The painkiller offered a mail-in refund of $3.49 and her store value card gave her $1.50 off her next purchase.

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Altogether, the discounts, coupons, refund and the store value card made the painkiller free and gave Sease a $4.99 profit to boot.

She used to buy generic brands until she realized that name brands offer coupons, she said.

Sease finds coupons in newspapers, magazines and fliers. She belongs to a coupon club whose members meet monthly in the local library to swap coupons. Her Bible is Refund Express, a monthly magazine that offers thousands of coupons and product promotions. She also cruises the Internet for coupon Web pages.

Sease puts her skills to work for charity, too.

This month she gave the Salvation Army in Chambersburg, Pa., nearly 900 four-packs of a popular gelatin dessert. The coupons were included in an advertising flier that came in a Toys R Us promotion, she said.

"I waited until the last 15 minutes on the day the coupons were to expire. They were going to destroy them the next day," she said.

Sease told store officials that she needed the coupons to buy the dessert packs for the Salvation Army. "They gave me a box with nearly 1,000 coupons inside. My father and I cut them off with a band saw. I didn't have time to clip that many with scissors," she said.

The coupons doubled in value to 80 cents for a package of four gelatin desserts.

Sease told the manager of a local Giant Food Store of her plans.

"He put in a special order for 974 four-packs. I ended up with 80 cartons, which I brought to the Salvation Army. They were overwhelmed," she said.

Last year she made a deal through a Toys R Us promotion for a similar dessert product and ended up spending $45 of her own money for 500 packages, which she gave to a local food bank.

The toy store promotion included a $1 gift certificate with each dessert pack purchased so Sease ended up with $500 worth of free buying power at the toy store. She used the certificates to buy Christmas presents for her two children.

On Wednesday, her kitchen table and back room were stacked with boxes of toiletries and personal hygiene items that she bought with coupons. It's all for charity. Next to them are stacks of dog food, also bought with coupons, for the local humane society.

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