Couponing expert, technical sergeant will share his secrets
Couponing airman dad Lenon Harvey Jr., a technical sergeant, deals out the savings to children Blythe, left, and Noah, with a pot of Goldfish crackers at stake, while mom Amanda serves as pit boss. Twins Mikah and Mikade are not pictured.
Lenon Harvey doesn’t clip coupons just to save money.
The Viera dad of four and Air Force technical sergeant at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base said he started using coupons out of necessity but that it has turned into a sport.
“It’s like a game to me,” Harvey said. “How do I get to zero?”
Harvey will teach a course on couponing strategy and etiquette at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Viera Regional Park Community Center. He plans to share his five-plus years of experience couponing and give tips for the best ways to save money at specific stores.
The price? Harvey’s favorite: free.
Harvey’s journey in couponing started just a few years ago. When he and his wife Amanda Harvey adopted two-year-old twins, their household income took a hit. She left her job as a nurse and there were instantly two more people to feed and clothe.
As a child, Lenon Harvey had seen his mother collecting and using coupons, so he decided he would give it a try, too.
“When I first started, it saved us about $100 per month,” he said. “Now it is much more, depending what items I buy that month.”
In an average week, Harvey buys 10 to 15 local newspapers just to clip coupons. He also visits websites like SundayCouponPreview.com and Coupon.com to match up manufacturer and store coupons with what will be on sale.
He has a system that includes file folders, envelopes and plastic index card boxes. For all his savings, he says he only spends about an hour and a half each week finding and organizing his coupons.
“I usually go through the newspapers while I’m watching TV,” he said. “Sometimes I recruit my kids to help me find the ones I’m looking for.”
Harvey has a knack for finding “money makers” — a term in the couponing community that means deals that will actually help the user earn some money in the form of store rewards or cash back. A few months ago, he took advantage of store sales, manufacturer coupons and store loyalty dollars to purchase about 1,000 cans of shaving cream and related items. He says he spent about $25 in taxes but made $150 in store dollars.
Unlike the coupon item hoarders made popular on television series like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” when Harvey has more of an item than he could possibly eat or use, he donates the extra.
One of his favorite causes is Operation Stand Down, a nonprofit organization that provides social services to veterans.
“We have a small cabinet where I put some of my overflow items, but you won’t find things in boxes under our kids’ beds or shoved under our couches,” he said.
The couponing class will be the first time Harvey has shared his couponing tactics on the record, though those around him have been benefiting for years.
“I often show up at work with extra items and just let everyone take whatever they want,” he said. “I also give tips to anyone who asks me for couponing advice and I’m happy to to do it.” VV