Local man loads up on groceries for free

'Coupon Hubby' teaches others how to save money

ORLANDO, Fla. - Shawn Thompson's home in Sanford looks a bit like a warehouse.

He's not a hoarder.  He's the "Coupon Hubby." 

Thompson launched "The Coupon Hubby" web site when he saw the recession take a serious bite out of his household budget.  With a wife and two kids to feed, he was determined not to make them sacrifice at the kitchen table.

Instead, Thompson, a software developer by trade, developed a program that combines the stacking principle, using store coupons and manufacturer coupons together and, whenever possible, combining them with in-store promotions like Buy One Get One Free deals.   

"I believe the first venture I had, I brought home 15 bags of frozen vegetables and paid nothing for them.  I was hooked," he said.

Fifteen bags of frozen vegetables?  It's called stockpiling: buying non-perishables you will use over a period of time, at the best time and price available, by knowing the cycles of the best promotions.  Thompson studies those promotional cycles every week.  Combining the stacking principle and stockpiling creates what he calls "vertical shopping."

"I have enough razors that should last several more years," he said.

If this all seems like too much trouble and too much math for the average consumer, Thompson understands.  That's why, he explained, he created the web site where he does all the work for shoppers.  On his site, the "Coupon Hubby" tells consumers where to find coupons that are prime for vertical shopping so they don't end up clipping coupons they won't use.  He also does the math, explaining exactly how to combine those coupons with current in-store deals to get the best price, often a price that represents a negative for the store and a bonus for the consumer.

For example, Thompson combined a Buy One Get One Free special on light bulbs at Publix with a competing store's coupon and a manufacturer's coupon, and the math put money in his pocket: Publix paid him 51 cents for every package of bulbs he bought.  Technically, that's called an overage, and some stores won't honor overages, but his Publix does.

On the same trip to Publix, Local 6 watched as Thompson filled his cart by stacking and stockpiling everything from spaghetti sauce to soup to vitamins.  He ended up with $33 in overages, plus $40 he saved on gas cards.  He used that money to buy higher-priced perishables like fresh meats and vegetables for which coupons are rarely offered.

"And this is the best part," Thompson said.  "Because at this part you're getting items for free that will honestly be the main course of the meals you're eating."

During Local 6's visit, Thompson's check-out at the Publix register was fairly typical, he said.  He handed over heaps of coupons as he loaded his stacking and stockpiling items on the conveyor belt.  The savings kept adding up. 

The "Coupon Hubby" walked out of Publix with $353 worth of groceries, and he didn't pay a dime.  Not a dime.

"A good day," Thompson said with a smile while he loaded his bounty into his truck.

There's more to the "Coupon Hubby" than stocking up on great savings.  He's a consumer with a conscience.  Thompson will never unload an entire shelf for himself, making sure to leave inventory for other customers who want to take advantage of a sale.  He'll even call the store ahead of time if he intends to buy in bulk.  Thompson also stacks and stockpiles items he and his family specifically won't use; he donates those items to charities and area shelters.  The "Coupon Hubby" has set up a sort of exchange on his site, where people can do the same kind of charity shopping using his system. 

"As one person it might not make a difference," he says. "But if I can get 500 people to send [items] to somebody that they'll never meet, suddenly you're changing someone's life."

Follow Thompson on Facebook for more information.

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