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Coupon Queen saves 91 percent

DETROIT — Few people save money like Susan Samtur.

Nationally known as the Coupon Queen, Samtur estimates that she receives about $2,500 yearly in checks from product manufacturers. Add to that the 50 percent, on average, she saves on groceries using store sales, and discount and free product coupons.

For more than 35 years, Samtur, 65, of Scarsdale, N.Y., has honed her coupon-clipping strategies and says that you can save big, too.

"I think coupon savings is easy, it's rewarding and sometimes I like to call it my coupon therapy," Samtur says.

"When I am shopping, I don't think about anything else but how much money I am going to save."

Samtur, whose latest book, "Supershop Like the Coupon Queen: How to Save 50 percent or More Every Time You Shop" (Berkley, $15), will be out next month, has been featured on talk shows and in national magazines. She also has three websites:

  • www.couponqueen.com
  • www.refundbundle.com
  • www.selectcoupon program.com

And on a recent visit to Michigan, Samtur demonstrated her coupon-savvy ways at a Meijer store in Allen Park.

Armed with a list and her coupon organizer, Samtur bought $134.99 of groceries, paper products and health and beauty aids for $12.12 after coupons and rebates.

An impressive savings that awestruck cashier Paula Davis said, "gave her the chills."

So how did Samtur do it? She came prepared — very prepared.

Samtur says organization is key to her strategy. Her list was organized by aisle and product, including product sizes because many coupons are size-specific. She says shoppers need to be alert in stores and look for sale tags, be brand flexible and keep an eye out for coupons and other offerings.

Seem like a lot? Samtur advises shoppers who feel overwhelmed to work their way up.

"Do as much or a little as you can," says Samtur, a mother of four boys who started using coupons to save money when she and her husband, Steve, were working as teachers.

Start out with items that are more expensive or paper products, Samtur says, which are often on sale and for which coupons are issued a lot.

Over the years, she has seen the coupon culture change.

"I've seen coupons expand past the supermarket into just about every aspect and phase of our lives," Samtur says. "And the Internet has played a big role in printable coupons, printable rebate offers and a good generous dispersal on information on saving."

And, with the state of the economy, Samtur's advice on how to take advantage of those savings really hits home.

NCH Marketing Services, a division of Valassis Communications in Livonia, Mich., says consumers saved nearly $2 billion with coupons in the first half of 2010, a 37 percent increase over pre-recession levels, according to its mid-year Coupon Facts Report.

The report also revealed that 176 billion coupons were offered in the first half of 2010, up from 158 billion a year ago.

"In the first half of 2010 there was an overall increase in redemption of 7.9 percent in year-over-year since the fourth quarter of 2008 and growing ever since," says Charles Brown, vice president of marketing for NCH.

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SUSAN SAMTUR'S DEALS

Susan Samtur saved big on a recent shopping trip. Here are some highlights:

Cheer powder laundry detergent

Sale price $9.99.

Final price: Free. Full-price coupon.

Folgers coffee

Price: $6.19.

Final price: Free. Full-price coupon.

Tropicana orange juice

Sale price $2.89.

Final price: Free. Full-price coupon.

Yoplait yogurt

Sale price: 50 cents each.

Final price: 36 cents each. Advertised sale, plus coupon.

Franks Red Hot Pepper sauce

Price: $1.15.

Final price: 15 cents. Doubled 50-cent coupon.

Open Pit barbecue sauce

Sale price: 99 cents.

Final cost: 29 cents. Doubled 35-cent coupon.

Susan Samtur, 65, from New York, known nationally as the Coupon Queen, shops at a Meijers store in Allen Park, Mich. - MCT