Jill Cataldo’s credo is when the going gets tough, the tough get clipping. Sound strange? Not from the Coupon Queen. But how does one gain this lofty title? Raising three children, ages 23 months to 13 years, in suburban Chicago inspired her to track store sales, and clip newspaper coupons. Saving all the coupons she could get her hands on and using them when the prices at her local grocery stores were lowest based on a 12-week cycle, she started saving thousands of dollars on groceries. After a little publicity from the Chicago Sun-Times, she started writing the "Coupon Queen” column. Now, Cataldo’s column is coming to The Oklahoman. It will debut in Wednesday’s Life section. She recently answered a few of our questions: Q: Tell us about your background before becoming the Coupon Queen. A: Prior to becoming the Coupon Queen, I was a Web developer/programmer for over 10 years, and I also previously worked as editor of our town’s local newspaper. I have a journalism degree from Northern Illinois University and am thrilled to be writing again. I’ve lived my entire life in Illinois, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Q: Talk about how you came to learn how much coupons had to offer. A: Occasionally I’d see other "coupon queens” on the news, buying hundreds of dollars of groceries for pennies, and I thought, "I want to be one of those people!” I learned there’s a system to matching coupons to the best sales (clearly, it’s better to use a $1 coupon when the item’s on sale for $1 than when it’s at its regular price of $2.99, etc) and realized I could really enjoy significant savings on almost everything that I buy if I paid more attention to the sales cycles in the stores. And it’s not terribly difficult to learn or do. It takes me about a half-hour a week to plan my shopping trips, and I don’t cut any coupons out of the newspaper inserts until I actually need to use them. Q: How did you graduate from coupon-savvy consumer to Coupon Queen? A: Last summer, my husband came home from work and said our library was looking for new program ideas. I’d been doing this for a few years (quietly!) at this point, but he was well aware of how much money we were saving each week. He suggested I approach the programming department at our library about a coupon class. I submitted an outline. They accepted — and then I had to write a class! Which was a pleasure, of course. Our library said that if 20 to 30 people signed up, they’d consider my class a success. 162 signed up. And with that, my Super-Couponing classes were off to an incredible start. I have never sought out another booking after that first class — it’s all been word-of-mouth — but I’ve taught somewhere upwards of 6,000 people since I started. I am booked solid through November of this year already. I teach three to four times a week at libraries, schools and churches all over Illinois. Q: What do you do if someone disputes a coupon claim? A: Certainly, you can encounter occasional "cashier confusion” at the store. It’s usually pretty easy to resolve — I know I’m not doing anything wrong. The most common issue lately seems to be whether or not the store takes Internet-printable coupons (most do, and your store will have a coupon policy either on their Web site or in the store itself which explains whether or not they take them.) As a coupon shopper, I’m very familiar with my local stores’ policies and at times am more familiar with it than the cashier is. In their defense, most cashiers are truly trying to protect the store and not do anything wrong, but I’ve heard from numerous cashiers that they also get zero training on their stores’ coupon policy. At that point, having them check the policy usually resolves things. Q: Anything else you’d like to say to folks in Oklahoma? A: Hello, Oklahoma! Get ready to save lots of money on your groceries! My column includes the same material I teach in my coupon classes, but it’s broken down on a week-by-week basis, which allows me a lot more time and room to really explore many of the best ways to save with coupons.