CHATHAM BOROUGH, NJ – Couponing is a way of life for Jeff Kaplan.
The Chatham resident learned from his father, Dave, and now Jeff is teaching his eight-year-old son, Sam, the art of couponing. Now the family will be taking their money-saving ways to the national airwaves tonight when they appear on an episode of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing.”
Dave will be on the show with Jeff and Sam, as three generations of coupon-clippers share their money-saving hobby with the whole country.
“It’s a family tradition,” Kaplan said. “My dad would clip coupons and keep them in a shoebox. I’d help him cut them out, then we’d go to the store and see how much we could save. There are so many great memories there, not just learning how to coupon, but working on my math skills, and spending time with my dad.”
The heirloom coupon box has been passed on now, along with its valuable stash of no-expiration coupons. Jeff and Sam use it when they’re doing their own coupon-clipping.
“As soon as he was old enough to hold paper and crumple it in his hand, we started working on it,” Jeff said. “Now that he’s eight, the math skills are there, and he’s excited about it.”
Jeff said the whole philosophy behind his family’s couponing ways is to save money on things they use, stuff that was already on their shopping list.
“Cereal, yogurt, organic milk… we have our regular preferences,” he said. “The whole idea behind couponing is to find coupons that match your shopping list.”
Jeff quit his full-time job to start a couponing website, www.lozo.com, that allows people to match their shopping list with available coupons.
“It just makes it easier,” he said. “As much as we might enjoy the idea of clipping coupons, if you’re like me – I’ve got three young kids at home. I don’t have time to spend hours every week just looking for coupons.”
Jeff said that to join his family’s ranks as a full-fledged couponer, Sam must first save at least 75 percent on his very first solo extreme couponing shopping trip.
“We’ve taken a couple of trips where we’ve saved 60 to 80 percent on the bill,” Jeff said. “Fifty percent is common.”
Sam’s the oldest of the Kaplan’s children. Madeline, who is six, is eager to get more involved in couponing. Gabrielle, who is three, just knows her family is doing cool stuff and she wants to be a part of it.
“Gabrielle just says ‘I want coupon. I want coupon.’ So we give her kid scissors and coupons we aren’t using and she cuts them up,” Jeff said.
While the family’s couponing may have landed them a spot on “Extreme Couponing,” Jeff said couponing doesn’t occupy his whole life.
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” he said. “I know how to get my coupons and get out. I know what we need, I grab the coupons and go. It doesn’t have to be hard.”
For beginning couponers, his advice is simple:
“Don’t set your sights too high. Just get a couple of coupons you know you’ll use, and the next time you’ll want to find a few more, and then you’ll be hooked,” he said. “For us, it’s just a part of our lives. Until we did this TV show, we never thought it was going to be as interesting as it is.”
The Kaplan’s episode of “Extreme Couponing” airs tonight at 10 p.m. on TLC.