Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

February 25, 2013

CMU student clips, saves

CLINTON TOWNSHIP (AP) — Shelby Thornton is a perky, bubbly university senior who gets a lot of free cat food.

She gets a lot of other free or incredibly low-cost other stuff, too.

"My mother said I could go into a store with $2 and come out with $5," the Central Michigan University advertising major from Clinton Township told The Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant ( http://bit.ly/12vCMF5 ). Thornton said she's always had a knack for stretching her budget, and she's become an expert in using coupons to get a lot of stuff for not a lot of money.

"I kind of hid it for a while. I kind of kept it quiet," she said. Then along came the "Extreme Couponing" reality show, and Thornton took her coupons out of the closet.

"I was always a broke college student, like we all are," Thornton said. Then people started noticing that even though she was as broke as everyone else, she could leave a supermarket with money left in her pocket.

"I've actually taught quite a few people how to do it," she said. Thornton said she's now sharing her expertise through a Facebook page — facebook.com/iwantcouponsandfree stuff — and it's collected more than 700 likes.

"I created it a couple of years ago, but I never did anything with it," she said. Now, as she approaches graduation, she's posting regularly with ideas, bargains and advice.

Her first piece of advice is to know the rules the manufacturers and stores set for their coupons.

"You can get a lot of them on their websites," Thornton said. Sometimes, though, it's in the fine print on the coupons themselves.

One thing that usually holds true: It's possible to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for the same item. That can lead to some incredible bargains.

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