Midlands mom turns couponing, sales expertise into career

Jenny Martin says she did not set out to start a business.

“It was out of pure necessity,” the founder of SouthernSavers.com said of the origin of her interest in using coupons and tracking sales.

Southernsavers.com founder Jenny Martin leading a seminar on saving money Monday at the SC BLUE store in Columbia (photo provided).

Southern Savers founder Jenny Martin led a seminar on saving money Monday at the SC BLUE store in Columbia. (photo provided)

Martin explained that eight years ago, she had 1-year-old twins and a budget that was not nearly enough to make ends meet. She began searching for ways to save and soon managed to cut her average weekly grocery bill from $250 to $50. Two years later, she turned what she had learned into a business of her own after first launching the Southern Savers website as a hobby.

Martin spoke last week at the SC BLUE store on Bower Parkway in Columbia. Seats for the free seminar were booked in less than 24 hours after the event was announced, and organizers said many families are even more focused on saving at this time of year, with summer vacation on the horizon.

“It’s not difficult at all” to cut down on grocery bills, Martin said. Her methods focus on “changing the way you shop,” she said. “Don’t make a grocery list. Shop based on sales, not on need.”

Martin said sales at grocery store chains go in cycles, repeating every six weeks. Thus, even those who are not interested in using coupons can save by buying six weeks worth of an item each time it goes on sale, eliminating the need to pay regular prices.

“Getting away from regular-priced items means huge savings,” Martin said. What started as an effort just to stay afloat has become a full-time job, as she and her team at Southern Savers conduct workshops around the Southeast as well as maintain the site and send out daily email newsletters to subscribers.

She said the best news for those interested in geting started is that everything her business offers to consumers is free.

“We have advertisers on the site, and because of our size we’re still able to offer everything free,” she said. Free videos offering simple tips for beginners as well as full two-hour seminars for experts are also available.

Martin says she still uses coupons and sales for her own shopping and typically spends about 45 minutes getting ready before heading to a grocery store.

“For what you can save, that’s a pretty good hourly salary for the time you spend,” she said.

The SC BLUE store, operated by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, also offers other events devoted to good health, including cooking classes and Zumba sessions.

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