. June 30, 2017.

Does frequently paying $3 to $5 less than retail value sound like a far-off wish? How about walking away from the checkout line with bags full of free items? There is a whole community dedicated to finding and capturing these deals, complete with its own language, including terms such as “B1G1,” “MIR,” “OYNO,” and “WSL.” So goes the life of a couponing pro. Want in? Knowing how to identify great deals and learning the lingo can save you money on each shopping trip and result in a year-end savings in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

From Y2K to present day

When the 21st century was approaching, local couponer Laura Hayes jokes that she had a “Y2K shelf” that was stocked with a variety of products and backups. “Instead of paying $5.99 for a product, I (found similar items where) I would pay less than a dollar,” she says. For a single mother of three children, the importance of savings was amplified.
Seventeen years later, Hayes is known throughout Washtenaw County, much of Michigan, and part of Ohio as an expert in this field. She holds classes and enjoys teaching others how to save. Hayes is active in more than 150 Facebook groups dedicated to couponing. Joining one or several is a great way to stay on top of current deals in and around Washtenaw County. A quick search on Facebook brought up nearly a dozen local groups dedicated to couponing.

Local coupon expert Laura Hayes shares tips on how to identify good deals around Washtenaw County.

Local coupon expert Laura Hayes shares tips on how to identify good deals around Washtenaw County.

It’s all in the plan

Hayes knows not everyone has the ability to coupon fulltime, but suggests dedicating “two hours to look through the paper and clip coupons.” Because she is organizationally armed, Hayes knows exactly what she is shopping for, and is easily in and out of the store, having used anywhere from two to 200 coupons per trip.
Hayes discounts purchases on everything from bed sheets to car oil, curtains to carpet, typically saving $8,000 to $20,000 in a year. She adds that with diligence and organization the savings possibilities for families are phenomenal. “Couponing isn’t a bag that will go out of style. It is something you can use with everything and take with you forever,” says Hayes.

Did you know?

Manufacturers pay stores the face value of coupons, plus eight cents. Shoppers save, stores make money. Win-win.

The path to major savings:

  • Join the Facebook group Couponing Mammas of Washtenaw
  • Scan the paper for current sales
  • Download Mpurse to make checking out a breeze
  • Scan receipts into apps like Receipt Hog or ibotta to earn cash

Speaking in ‘Coupon’:

B1G1/BOGO: Buy One, Get One
MIR: Mail In Rebate
OYNO: On Your Next Order
WSL: While Supplies Last
Blinkie: Manufacturer coupon, found in an aisle dispenser near the product
Catalina: Coupons printed at the register
Q: Coupon abbreviation
Stacking: Using a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon for one item

For more expert advice,
or to schedule a couponing party,
contact Laura Hayes at