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September 18, 2014

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Economy prompts some to get serious about clipping coupons

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Colette Bosta, Grocery Smarts manager of Las Vegas, opens a newspaper looking for coupon inserts. As the mother of four children, Bosta diligently collects coupons and on average saves $600 a month.

Grocery Smarts

Colette Bomsta, Grocery Smarts manager of Las Vegas, reacts with excitement when she finds a coupon insert in a newspaper. As the mother of four children, Bosta diligently collects coupons and on average saves $600 a month. Launch slideshow »

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It's time for pinching pennies, but it isn't just pennies that many local families are saving. They're using Web sites and co-op meetings to save hundreds on grocery bills.

Colette Bomsta, a Henderson mother of four, says she saves an average $600 a month at the supermarket.

Bomsta is doing it the old-fashioned way -- using coupons and bargain-hunting -- with the high-tech tool of a Web site that highlights all the big deals on groceries in real time, including ones that can be matched with coupons.

"It's the perfect system for busy moms," said Bomsta, manager of Grocery Smarts in Southern Nevada, a business that teaches shopping skills and operates the coupon Web site. "And the Web site makes it really easy to show what's on sale."

For her that comes out to big savings, rather than stress, in the check-out line.

Bomsta isn't the only one saving money. Creative cost-saving measures such as these are not uncommon in bad economic times, said Cena Valladolid, Consumer Credit Counseling Service chief operating officer.

"We do recommend clipping coupons or matching competitive prices," she said. "We also suggest shopping around and going to grocery stores that do double discounts."

Given the economic climate, she said, people are thinking twice about buying name-brand items.

Some aren't buying brands at all. The Las Vegas Herb Co-op includes about 30 members who make their own beauty products and medicines, which saves money, promotes a sustainable environment and good health, said member Montana Black. She signs up for classes through the Web site nicolecarterherbs.com.

"I make my own body products, so I can make a lot more out of the olive oil and organically grown herbs that I purchase," she said. "I can make a year's worth of lotion for around $20. Its saves me a lot of money and is better for me."

Every shopper has a favorite deal, and they're eager to share.

Anya Egbert of North Las Vegas recently walked into Albertsons with one coupon and got a 64-load container of Tide for $8. Normally it's $16.

Diana Clarke, of Las Vegas, spent $100 on groceries last month on two people. Usually she spends $200, even buying in bulk at Costco.

"If I or my husband were to lose our jobs, I wouldn't worry about how to feed us because I've already cut costs and we've saved some money to put aside," she said.

Grocery Smarts teaches classes on shopping and runs a Web site in Utah and Southern Nevada. The Web site is free to use.

Bomsta found this Web site online and negotiated with the owners to bring it to Las Vegas in August 2008. Through her network of family and church friends, she's managed to spread it to thousands of busy shoppers from Mesquite to Boulder City.

"It's really captured everyone's attention because so many families are looking for ways to save money without cutting something out," she said.

Grocery Smarts makes money through commissions from selling newspaper subscriptions at the shopping classes.

She said it takes her only about five minutes to organize the weekly coupon ads into a filing box and about 30 minutes to look up the deals online and print out a shopping list before heading out the door.

Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or [email protected].

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