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.