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Teacher creates website to teach people to save money with coupons

September 22, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. —
It might be the digital age, but when it comes to pinching pennies, Stephanie Brandt does it the old-fashioned way. She clips paper coupons.

That's not to say she doesn't find discounts on the Internet, too.

She leaves no page — or site — unturned in an effort to save money.

Brandt has always been concerned about how to get the most for her dollar, she said, but more so after she and her husband adopted their 6-year-old son from Guatemala.

"You have to make serious financial sacrifices to adopt and this forces you to learn other ways of saving," she noted.

Since she started couponing, Brandt estimates she has saved her family between $5,000 and $7,000 each year.

The Chambersburg, Pa., resident said she had so many people behind her in store lines asking how she saved so much money that she decided to find a way to share her expertise.

This past June, Brandt founded DebtFreeSpending.com — a website devoted to offering ideas on how to lower day-to-day expenses.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," she said. 

A full-time teacher in the Chambersburg area, Brandt and her husband are the founders of Once More Ministries — a nonprofit toiletry bank that helps more than 200 individuals on a monthly basis.

"It's like a food bank only we give free toiletries to needy families," she said. "This is actually how I started couponing — to get free toiletries. Then, I started shopping all the various stores, learned about couponing and began following other deal bloggers. I decided to start my own blog to help families learn how to lower their expenses."

Brandt said she came up with the idea last spring of creating a website to help people maneuver their way through tough economic times.

"But I didn't get all the technical details worked out until early June," she explained.

Brandt calls her website "educational and fun."

"We have a coupon class section with YouTube videos to teach visitors how to save with coupons," she said. "We also have a debt-free living section that teaches good budgeting and finance skills and includes PDF forms. Under the 'stores' tab, visitors can check out the weekly deals for several stores. And it tells them where to find the coupons for these deals. Once they select their deals, they can print out their list and take it to the store."

Brandt said the site also has free giveaways to keep things fun.

Visitors can be updated hourly with deals by becoming a fan of her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/debtfreespending.

"Right now, our Facebook page has almost 2,000 fans and that is just from June," she said. 

Brandt said the website also features crafts, recipes and daily deals.

"From now until Christmas, I'll feature deals which I think are super steals at various stores to help families save on gifts for the holidays," she said.

Brandt said she has a searchable coupon database, where shoppers can search to see if coupons are available for the items they want to purchase.

"This is a great feature," she shared. "I used it myself the other week and saved $10 at the store because I found most of the products I needed."

Brandt said her goals with her website are to teach people how to save, learn from each other and have fun.

In an effort to help people shop more effectively, Brandt is offering two-hour coupon classes.

"We have a beginner class and an advanced class," she said. "The cost is only $10 but I know that you will save hundreds or more from attending."

Brandt said the first class teaches basic skills, such as how to use coupons, where to find coupons and basic deal skills. The advanced class teaches how to complete weekly match ups for various stores, utilize printable coupons and how to use the extra features on her blog that will save even more money.

Although her website and classes are fairly new, Brandt is happy with the response she has received from the public and feels she is providing a service.

"I think in this economy, Americans need to save versus wanting to save, and we're helping them learn skills to get their families through these tough times," she said.



To Learn more

For more information on classes offered by Stephanie Brandt, contact her at steph@debtfreespending.com or call 717-809-9248.

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