Diane Schmidt, 36, Cleveland
"I'm always on the lookout for new ways to save, and I love sharing my discoveries with others."
Inspiration: Both my mom and my Grandma Esther were coupon clippers. Grandma lived through the Great Depression, and her whole life was a lesson in frugality. She cooked every meal from scratch, used scrap paper for lists and sewed her own clothes. She never wasted water or electricity. But the most important things she taught me were to live a good life and love your family.
Background: When I was pregnant with my son, Cameron, in 2002, I wanted to quit my job and stay home, but we were in the process of buying a house, so we had to make serious cuts. My grandma was a great help. She taught me to sew curtains and got me into stocking my pantry and cooking. Around that time, I discovered a community of people who trade coupons online. I started a website to share the coupons I had to trade, and I began adding savings tips because people were asking for them. My husband, Walt, who is a Web designer, helped me turn my site into what it is today: savingsmania.com. Now I write and post deals to a readership of thousands. I’ve gotten into social media, too. More than 14,000 people follow me on Pinterest, and I have more than 14,000 pins.
Key strategies: I spend about an hour planning -- matching coupons and sales -- every shopping trip. It’s a lot of work, but it pays off. I save 30 percent to 50 percent on most trips. My biggest secret is going once a week. If I go more, I’ll end up spending more. I rarely splurge on myself. I guess I‘ve just inherited my grandma’s practical gene. But when it comes to items on sale or clearance, I’ll stock up. I use paper coupons, Shopkick and other apps, Target mobile coupons and e-coupons at Giant Eagle.
Payment method of choice: Cash! It makes me stick to my budget. I don’t ever want to be a slave to debt.
Best deals ever: I’ve scored tons of amazing deals on housewares, like a kitchen island for $25 and an oak dining table for $20. And in the past few years I’ve discovered sweepstakes. I recommend doing them on Twitter and Pinterest, where fewer people are competing. I won a vacation with my family to Florida through a Hasbro online game, and one time I got a king-size bed. Like others, I also keep a pantry full of food, health and beauty products that I’ve gotten for free or next to nothing.
'I can’t resist': Freebies and Target clearance items are hard to pass up. Sometimes a deal is so good, though, I have to limit myself. If I get too much of something, I pass it on to a charity.
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