Dana Calder says the number of people following her on Facebook has doubled to more than 13,000 since the COVID-19 pandemic and record increases in inflation made paying the bills extremely difficult for many Canadians.
“These are great coupons. As you can see, they’re for a wide variety of products,” said Calder, as she showed Global News a pile of traditional glossy coupons. Calder started couponing for herself and her children, a few years ago, before perfecting the craft.
She points to a recent grocery bill. “We only spent $51. We saved $200.71,” Calder said. “So, literally, we saved four times what we spent.”
A grandmother of five, the self-styled “Coupon Nannie” is grateful she’s reaching a wider audience by the day.
“They’re starting to realize that by using coupons and cashback options, that brings prices down 10, 20, 30, 40 dollars per grocery trip,” Calder said.
While the latest inflation figures released this week showed price growth slowed overall in August, costs at the grocery store were meanwhile up 10.8 per cent year-over-year, a 41-year high.
Yuni Olszewski, who calls herself a stay-at-home mother, says following the Coupon Nannie has eased the financial pressures of raising her two-year-old son, Beau, in Calgary.
“I started couponing when he was 14 months; that’s when I started using baby formula,” Olszewski said. “And it’s like fairly expensive. At that time I was, my gosh, searching around, looking for ways to get the formula for cheap. And that’s where I found her page on Facebook.”
Calder knows all about tight finances: she’s on a disability pension for post-traumatic stress disorder, from her time as a correctional officer.
“At any time, any of us could be in that situation,” she said. “Excuse me, I tend to get emotional.”
There are more ways than ever to use coupons — from the traditional method of cutting them out of flyers, or collecting from grocery store aisles, to printing or mailing them out from online apps. Shoppers can also scan their grocery receipts to a cash-back app, and get a credit in their debit account.
“On my webpage, you can go to one place and put ‘coupon networks’ and it’ll list all the different places you can find coupons online,” she said. “And it will say if they’re printable, if they’re available, if you can just load them onto your phone.”
Calder says she doesn’t play favourites with retailers.
“I have no association with any of the stores. My job is to help people find the cheapest prices,” Calder said.
She also shares her know-how, in person, with clients transitioning out of a nearby homeless shelter in Truro, N.S.
Shauna Greene, program coordinator for the Truro Housing Outreach Society, says Calder is a valuable resource.
“She’s a wealth of knowledge,” Greene said. “And everybody that participated was really excited by the apps and the tips and all of the stuff that she presented to them.”
Calder said it feels good to make a difference.
“If everybody would just help each other a little bit, we’d be able to get through this.”
Her generosity is coming full circle. She says a graphic designer is giving her website a free makeover so she can start selling ads, recovering some costs for a service she’s been providing at her own expense.