published Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Ministry of coupons

Audio clip

Kasey Trenum


A recent trip to Publix for Mrs. Trenum yielded nearly $150 worth of savings for her family from coupons and in-store bargains when she purchased the following:

1 gallon milk

8 individual Publix spring waters

14 4-pack canisters of Crystal Light

4 boxes of 10-packet single servings of Crystal Light

1 gallon Hawaiian Punch

4 Chef Boyardee Micro Dinners

2 bottles of Kraft BBQ Sauce

2 bottles Lawry's marinade

1 6-pack spring water

1 can Duncan Hines frosting

1 package fresh ground chuck

6 boxes Ritz crackers

6 boxes Wheat Thin crackers

1 package Hefty OneZip gallon freezer bags

1 snack size Ziploc bags

1 package Oreo cookies

1 package Chips Ahoy cookies

1 fresh pineapple (peeled and cored)

3 6-pack bottles of Diet Coke

1 box Capri Sun Sunrise juice

Total before savings: $177.82

Savings (82 percent) from coupons and in-store bargains: $146.80

Final total: $31.02


* Omega Harvest Church, 4904 Dayton Blvd. -- 10:30 a.m. July 18 (Couponing 101), 2 p.m. July 18 (Couponing 102).

* New Bethel Baptist Church, 8740 Harrison Bay Road -- 7 p.m. Aug. 14 (Couponing 101), 10 a.m. Aug. 15 (Couponing 102), 1 p.m. Aug. 15 (Couponing 103).

NOTE: A Times Free Press representative is available at each local workshop if attendees are interested in subscribing to the newspaper for its coupon savings.


* Couponing 101, $10, covers: Why coupon, how to get started, where to find coupons and how to organize coupons; matching coupons with sales to get lowest prices; introduction to saving 50 to 90 percent off grocery and household expenses.

Couponing 102, $15, covers: Strategic shopping tools, the purpose of stockpiling, incorporating a meal plan that coincides with sales and pulling it all together/using online resources to match sales.

Couponing 103, $15, covers: Untangling the wild world of drug stores, CVSing -- how to earn and roll ECBs, Walgreen's -- the rules of register rewards, Rite-Aid -- single check rebates, and restaurants, Internet, birthdays, rebates, freebies and more.

For information, visit

When Cleveland stay-at-home moms Kasey Trenum and Kelly Thompson started a ministry and business in February teaching the art of couponing, it wasn't to pass the time between manicures.

For both women, whose husbands' jobs were affected by the downtown in the economy, it was out of financial necessity.

"Being two stay-at-home moms with five children (among them), this is our job," said Mrs. Trenum.

And while it's a job for both women, it's also a ministry. Both believe the roots of their work -- called Time 2 $ave -- came from a Beth Moore Bible study they were taking on the biblical book of Esther.

"We believe God called us for such a time a time as this," Mrs. Trenum said, citing a passage in Esther. At few other times has there been a time, she said, "where people would be so hungry."

The two women teach three different two-hour couponing workshops, covering everything from why it's important to use coupons to the importance of stockpiling to the secrets of getting the most out of drug stores.

When more than 200 people came to a free February session at a Cleveland church when they were helping out a friend, Mrs. Trenum said she and Mrs. Thompson realized they could make a difference in their families and in the lives of other people.

Since then, they have offered a dozen or so workshops at churches in Chattanooga, Cleveland and the surrounding areas and have additional ones scheduled from Ohio to middle Georgia.

Their workshops offer common sense on dollars and sense, but they also bring in people who may not have set foot in a church in years.

"We're meeting people where they are," Mrs. Trenum said. "We share testimony throughout the whole thing."

More than half of the 150 people who attended a workshop at their home church of North Cleveland Church of God, for instance, didn't attend church there.

"In our economy," Mrs. Trenum said, "people are desperate."

Some 45 people attended a couponing workshop earlier this month at Dallas Bay Baptist Church.

"I thought the response was wonderful," said Amy Phillips, director of women's ministry. "We had nothing but positive feedback. Just last week, somebody shared with me how they had implemented some of the (suggested) practices on a recent shopping trip" and saved 50 percent off their grocery bill.

What she liked, she said, was that consumers can take small steps and don't have to implement every piece of advice at once. It builds on itself, she said. You learn as you go.

Jennifer Butler, wife of John Butler, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, said she previewed a couponing workshop before her congregation decided to host one in August.

"They're very careful about how they present this," she said. "It's not just about saving money, it's about honoring the Lord with our finances. (He wants us) to be good stewards over whatever given us."

Mrs. Trenum said she and Mrs. Thompson, who had grown up very frugally, had done couponing before their economic problems. Now, she said, the grocery store doesn't determine her shopping. A trip to the grocery store that once cost several times as much now might cost her $30.

"It's a completely different lifestyle," she said. "The additional benefit is more time at home with our families."

Mrs. Trenum said things had gotten so out of hand with their constantly eating out that when they began to eat at home, her children would state what they wanted to order.

"We needed to retrain them," she said. "This is teaching them self-discipline and self-control instead of instant gratification. It's teaching them lifelong lessons."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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SetTheRays said...

I do the coupon thing as well, but if you look at the example grocery list given in this article many of the items are highly processed foods and unhealthy drinks. If you're interested in fresh items or at least marginally healthier items, your bill would look different. Couponing should incorporate savings as well as good food choices for your family.

June 27, 2009 at 7:31 p.m.
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