PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - If someone said you could purchase $150 worth of groceries and walk away only paying $3, would you believe it?

While you may have some doubts, the proof is in the pudding. Pun intended.

Jody Jarrell, a Picatinny Arsenal employee, a former Soldier and spouse of a currently deployed Soldier, knows how to save and save immensely. Not only does she do it for herself, but she is willing to show other consumers how to attain the same savings.

It all started about four and half years ago when she was still on active duty. Jarrell was a sergeant just returning from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan when one of her Soldiers wanted to borrow $20 to buy baby formula for her child.

“I vowed to never be put in that situation again,” Jarrell said. “I wanted to learn how to help people save money.

“It made no sense to me that two people who were raising a child"and both had jobs"couldn’t afford baby formula,” she remembers.

“There is a huge issue with the way people spend their money,” she added.
At 26, Jarrell has learned how to save significant amounts of money. How many people in their 20s own a home that is completely paid off?

Jarrell said that she and her husband live virtually debt-free except for a vehicle loan, which is more than 70 percent paid off.

What’s her system? Coupons.

Jarrell started researching how to save money on her grocery bill with coupons. Now, she saves so much that she is often able to donate food and hundreds of dollars to various charities, churches, homeless shelters and animal shelters.

One time, her two small children were helping to lay out food items on the table when one of them asked, “Mommy, who are we giving this food to today?”

Saving money has become a family affair. Jarrell prints the coupons from sites such as coupons.com, redplum.com, and smartsource.com. Her two sons, Blayke, 2, and Jayden, 4, help their mother load the shopping cart at the store.

On average, Jarrell said that she saves at least 70 percent off the regular price per shopping trip. She avoids making purchases without a coupon or a coupon overage (where the value of the discount is greater than the actual price of the item).

“It really is a science,” Jarrell said. “Sundays are my days to plan.”

Every Sunday, as new circulars are delivered in the newspaper, Jarrell spends the day clipping and matching with other manufacturer coupons.

“Every store has a policy, and each of those policies is different so you have to research them. Most place their policies online or in the store,” she said.

Jarrell shops at different stores for different items because each store has its own unique rewards system, identified by the store-branded plastic cards often seen on key rings. “I buy all personal hygiene items at drug stores,” she said.

The coupons are often paired with reward-point coupons to keep the cost down.
Jarrell said that she often gets a manufacturer’s reward coupon from Walgreen’s that can be used for purchases at the Picatinny Arsenal commissary.

“Everything revolves around those policies you need to check. I use the Walgreen’s card for higher end products such as proteins at the commissary.”

While her husband, Brian, 27, is deployed, Jarrell spends her days working as a security assistant for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

Although their house is in Watertown, N.Y., the couple qualified for on-post housing while she works here and Brian is overseas.

Just shy of six years on active duty, Jarrell decided to hang up her uniform and serve the Army in other areas.

After earning an associates degree in liberal arts, she chose to advance her education by working toward a bachelor’s degree in homeland security and emergency management, a degree more relevant to her occupation.

After getting settled into her job and housing, Jarrell approached the manager of the Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program with the idea to create a new program.

In April, with the assistance of the Army Family Readiness Team and Army Family Team Building, Jarrell created a group called “The Savvy Shoppers at Picatinny.”
By expressing her interest to save and publicizing a Facebook page for the group, new members continue to join.

Jarrell holds one meeting a month with the group as well as one coupon swap. At the meetings, members discuss topics like store policies on couponing, how to organize coupons and online shopping.

Jarrell became curious about how much members were actually saving. She started using a tracking sheet that shows impressive results. Since the end of April, more than 68 percent savings off regular prices has been recorded.

Members spent $460.04 while saving more than $1,400 at the register.
At the most recent meeting, the Savvy Shoppers were able to prepare a large shipment of extra hygiene products and food for the victims of the tornados in Joplin, Mo.

“I always keep about three months worth of food in my house,” Jarrell said. “If I have extra I donate it.”

To join the Savvy Shoppers group visit http://www.facebook.com/TheSavvyShoppers.
The next coupon swap is June 22 from 12 " 1 p.m. at Army Community Service, building 119. Bring lunch.

The next workshop is July 6 at 5 p.m. at ACS. Food and childcare are provided.

Page last updated Tue July 5th, 2011 at 08:51