Local coupon guru publishes book, works to ‘change the world’Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Local “extreme couponer” Joni Meyer-Crothers might not play favorites with her seven children, but she does have a favorite chapter in her new book “Extreme Couponing: Learn How to Be a Savvy Shopper and Save Money … One Coupon At a Time.”
“Chapter nine is about changing the world, one coupon at a time, so that’s my favorite chapter,” she said of the book, which is set for a March 5 release.
Meyer-Crothers started extreme couponing about five years ago after her husband was laid off from his auto-industry job.
Although Meyer-Crothers had a transcription business on the side, her family, which includes seven children ranging from 6 to 26, needed more resources.
“We needed to save money. And I had a friend who showed me two things we could get for free. And I’m a major, major overachiever and I thought, ‘If there’s two things, there’s a lot more,’” she said.
With her knack for math and organization, Meyer-Crothers was soon spending $200 for $5,000 worth of groceries per month.
“That was my moment where I said, ‘This isn’t just couponing. This is a ministry and a way to give back,’” said Meyer-Crothers, who donates about 80 percent of her groceries to Sylvania Area Family Services every month.
After members of her church nominated them, Meyer-Crothers and her family appeared on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing.” Since then, she has been on the “Rachael Ray Show,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “Today” and “Fox News.” On the book’s release date, Meyer-Crothers is set to appear on “The 700 Club.”
The book pitch
TLC and Discovery Channel publishing contacted Meyer-Crothers in December 2011 to pitch a book.
“Of course, I said, ‘Yeah!’” Meyer-Crothers said. “By the end of the book, it kind of walks people through how to make a successful shopping trip.”
Her agent paired Meyer-Crothers with co-author Beth Adelman, whose name also appears on the cover. Every week, the pair would discuss a chapter and Adelman would write it based on those conversations. Then Meyer-Crothers would reword phrases that didn’t sound like her.
“We wanted to make sure everything was as Joni would say it and not as I would say it,” Adelman said.
“It was very fun to work with Joni because she really knows her stuff and she was very well-organized,” she said.
At first, Adelman was a little skeptical about the book’s concept.
“Honestly, initially I didn’t think there would be enough information for a whole book … but I was wrong; there’s plenty of information,” Adelman said.
Now Adelman uses tips she picked up from Meyer-Crothers — like saving coupons for when items go on sale, she said. She also started donating to a local food bank.
“Very few people are having a very fabulous time financially right now and this is a book that will help people stretch what they have,” she said.
Meyer-Crothers said she may work on another book as a testimony on her life and couponing.
“I’m very big into teaching people that you can save for your own family, but you also have to share. There are too many hurting people out there and we have to step up and help them,” she said.
The new author said she has been getting good feedback on the book so far and that it’s placed 33,000 out of 8 million books on Amazon.
“It’s not even out so I’m pretty excited,” Meyer-Crothers said, adding that the book also includes some behind-the-scenes info on “Extreme Couponing.”
The book retails for about $15, but Meyer-Crothers is selling 100 copies for $13 on her blog at http://www.freetastesgood.com/?p=21276. The 100 buyers will receive a $5 gift certificate for a coupon-clipping service and $1 of each sale will go to the Seagate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio for Project PJ, which collects items sleepwear.
Meyer-Crothers said her favorite couponing tip is to use clipping services, which charge a small handling fee but can provide several coupons to users. She also suggested asking the management of nursing homes for extra coupons because most residents just want the papers and not the coupons.
“There’s ways to get free coupons besides buying hundreds of newspapers each week,” she said.
Meyer-Crothers spends about eight hours a day running her blog to provide savings tips to the masses. Still, her faith is the biggest part of her life, she said. She also credits her faith with jump-starting her passion for couponing.
“That’s kind of how it started at the age of 5. And that’s how the book starts out. I remember sitting in church. … I can remember I was in the third pew and I had my little dress shoes on and we had a missionary come to the church and talk about how as a Christian, it was our job to feed the hungry. And I remember clear as a bell, him standing up there and [I’m] thinking, ‘I’m gonna do something,’” Meyer-Crothers said.
“Even though at 5, it was placed on my heart, it took all these things to go through for me to finally be ready to share the ministry.”
Meyer-Crothers’ older brother, Lester Meyer, said that while growing up their family was not wealthy and he admires his sister for giving back even when she doesn’t have a lot.
“It’s amazing because I’ll be honest, she doesn’t have very much for herself,” he said. “She just keeps working at it. I think her vehicle has 200,000 miles on it.”
“It’s made me open my eyes up … lately, I’ll go to Kroger and check prices and I’ll end up going to Meijer and Walmart and checking prices,” he said.
Meyer-Crothers’ children are also proud of her.
“The older two especially, who remember when we were hungry, they’ll say, ‘We’re really proud of you, Mom. You’ve come a long way.’”
And she still has big plans for continuing to help others.
“My dream is I would like to go to every single state and go to food banks and help people learn how to coupon because so many food banks are hurting and there’s so many people going hungry.”
To learn more, visit the web site www.freetastesgood.com.