See 'couponing' in a new way at library seminar

If clipping coupons is your thing - or if you'd like it to be - there's good reason to stay close to town this weekend.

Coupon maven Jill Cataldo will talk about how to save money at the grocery store during a free seminar on Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Rolling Meadows library.

With penny-pinching at its highest level perhaps in years, the timing couldn't be better.

Cataldo, a longtime coupon user and stay-at-home mom, began to realize the full potential of coupons about three years ago. Since then, she has taught herself how to find the best deals, track grocery sales and even get items free. Typically, to feed her family of five each week, she spends $40 to $65 to buy $120 worth of groceries.

In just six months, the Huntley resident unwittingly has propelled her "couponing" hobby into a career of sorts. She's made quite a splash: a weekly segment with WLUP radio's Jonathon Brandmeier, an appearance on Fox News earlier this week, an invitation to teach a seminar at Purdue University in May. She also blogs on her Web site (

That's not to mention the "Super-Couponing" seminars she's doing at suburban libraries and park districts - up to four each week now. Hers is one of those rare jobs that actually does better when the economy is lagging.

"I can't go to the grocery store anymore with my hair up and in sweatpants," she laughs. "People will stop me and want to see what's in my cart."

Saturday's seminar will focus on maximizing grocery savings, tracking sales online and using multiple coupons for items. She especially encourages men to attend.

"It's no longer just a mom thing, and they're doing it well," she says of the men.

As a preview, Cataldo offers a tip on how store sales work. "Grocery stores play lots of games with their price drops," she says. The major grocers use a 12-week cycle, so it's really about timing.

"Stock up on nonperishable things when they're on sale," she advises. "If I buy laundry detergent, I'm going to buy 12 weeks' worth."

Cataldo admits her life has changed dramatically since she was invited to speak at the Huntley library last August. "They told me 20 or 30 people would be a success," she said. More than 160 people showed up.

"I had never intended to do more than that," she says. But by the beginning of February, she had 70 seminars booked into October.

The Rolling Meadows class starts at 10:30 a.m. at the library, 3110 Martin Lane. Seats are open, but registration is required. Call (847) 259-6050. Cataldo also will appear at the Arlington Heights library on Saturday, Feb. 21. Call (847) 392-0100.

• Contact Colleen Thomas at (847) 427-4591 or

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