January 26, 2015
Keith Sims knows how to protect and block.
The former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman, who also played for the Washington Redskins, is a three-time Pro Bowler who guarded Dan Marino’s blind side.
Sims retired from the NFL in 2000.
Today, he sweeps dollars into his wallet by chopping down food prices at the grocery store.
The gentle giant learned to save when his wife, Tia, introduced him to the joys of coupons.
“When I got remarried, my wife, Tia, she brings her coupon binder into the marriage and tells me we’re going to coupon,” Sims recalls. “I was skeptical.”
After a couple of coaching sessions with the new field general, Sims ran a few plays at the grocery store and started to save.
“Tia showed me how to combine manufacturer, store and competitor coupons on buy-one-get-one-free sales to double my savings and stock up on items with long expiration dates,” Sims says.
That was five years ago.
“Today, I’m the undisputed coupon king of this household,” he brags. “I’ve got five kids. I’m still buying diapers, so I have to use coupons.”
As Sims prepared to launch a new savings app, I asked him to share a few of the savings secrets in his playbook.
Here are his top tips.
Build a binder: “My No. 1 source for coupons is the Sun Sentinel. I get eight papers delivered on Sunday,” Sims says. “Also, whenever you’re at the store, get your exercise by walking every aisle looking for coupons in those little machines (known as blinkies because they flash to get your attention). Grab a few coupons, even if you’re not buying the item that day and stash them for a future sale.”
Go digital: “Sign up for digital coupons on Publix.com,” he says. “If you like a specific product or company, like them on Facebook and visit their websites to get offers.”
Sims also prints manufacturer coupons from SmartSource.com, Coupons.com and PGEveryDay.com.
Ban the spam: “Sign up for offers online, but create a separate email account that you give out to companies so you can keep offers separate from your regular email. That way you don’t get spam in your personal account.”
Join the club: “Sign up for free baby and pet clubs and Grape magazine (for wine). Publix sends you newsletters and high-value, exclusive coupons.”
Find enrollment forms at the customer service counter or at Publix.com/clubs-programs.
Even numbers: “Always clip or get at least two coupons so you can use them on a BOGO,” Sims says. “My minimum is always four, but I have a big family.”
Publix allows one manufacturer coupon to be combined with one store or competitor coupon on each item, even free ones.
Be patient: “Don’t be in a rush,” he says. “Just because the coupon is in the paper this week does not mean you have to redeem it right away. Use it when the item is at its lowest price or on BOGO before the expiration date.”
Products go on sale every eight to 12 weeks. “Learn the cycle and stock up when items are on sale.”
Time is money: “People always say clipping coupons takes too much time. Clip while you watch TV. Carve out the time each week to do it.”
Set a goal: “Set an amount you want to save on each shopping trip. I started out trying to save 10 percent. Now I regularly save 40 to 50 percent. It’s easy once you know how to do it.”
He estimates saving at least $300 per month.
“It’s fun. I’m completely hooked,” Sims says. “I love scoring a good deal.”