Oct 31, 2012 9:57 PM
BOWLING GREEN (AP) - Catrina Poole of Bowling Green knows how to find a good deal.
Since a colleague introduced her to coupon-clipping websites in March, she has saved thousands of dollars and spent hours shopping each week using coupons.
"When I realized how much I could get, it just exploded," Poole said. For months, she's paid very little for everyday items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, detergent and paper towels.
But Poole doesn't just use her coupon-finding skills to benefit herself. She donates many items she gets cheaply or free to Warren Central High School's Youth Service Center.
"I realized I couldn't just save money, I could help people," Poole said.
It took her awhile to find an organization that would accept her large donations of a variety of items, but she discovered that the youth service center at Warren Central, where her daughter attends, can always use donations.
Though she's donated a variety of products such as backpacks and food, her focus is on hygiene items, she said. She was a single, teenage mother and knows firsthand how hard it can be to pay for toiletries when struggling financially.
"I've been there," Poole said. "This is my way of giving back."
There are resources for families struggling to pay energy bills or to buy food, but it can be hard for a person with a low income to find the money for hygiene products, she said.
"There's not really any resource for them," Poole said.
When she finds a good coupon for a product she wants, she orders multiple copies of it through an online coupon-clipping service such as weclipusave.com or cliptosave.com. Those services usually charge about $8 to send 100 coupons.
"That is a lot of people's drawback, but I think it's worth it," Poole said. "To me, that's a really good deal."
Using so many coupons at a time allows her to stock up on an item, sometimes paying just five or six cents apiece, she said.
Poole's daughter, Tianna Poole, 17, a senior at Warren Central, often shops with her. Tianna thought using coupons to give back to the community was a great idea.
"I love donating and saving money, so to combine those into one thing is awesome," Tianna said.
It can be intense gathering so many items at the store and holding your breath that all your coupons work, but it's worth it, she said.
"The best part is when they tell you your total is $1 or 50 cents and you have 40 to 50 items," Tianna said.
Many of her classmates have expressed interest in learning how to save using coupons, so she's planning a coupon club at Warren Central to share her tips with others. A lot of students at her school come from low income or refugee families, she said.
"It's really beneficial for them to learn to budget their money and learn how to save now," Tianna said.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)