Lauren Puryear has big plans to celebrate her next birthday a year from now. She's not going on a cruise or an exotic vacation. She's not even going out dancing. Instead, the New Jersey native hopes to reach her goal of feeding 30,000 people by her 30th birthday. And she's using coupons to do it.
The Virginia woman has been working to feed the hungry since 2012 when her grandmother passed away, and she decided to continue her Nana's legacy of helping others in her community by starting For The Love of Others, a nonprofit group that aims "to reach the people who simply need a helping hand to help bring them into a better place; a place of happiness and purpose."
To date, Puryear has fed around 5,000 people. Previously, Puryear has shopped for bulk items at big box stores like Costco and BJs to find deals. But it wasn't enough. Once she figured out how to make extreme couponing work for her, Puryear realized the strategy could take her volunteer work to the next level.
"My first couponing experience ever was canned vegetables," Puryear told ABC News. "I was able to get them for four cents a can at Dollar General, so I bought 420 cans and I added chicken and rice to that meal."
After that, Puryear was hooked.
She told NJ.com that when done correctly, couponing can help her feed as many as 150 people on as little as $20.
How she does it
She starts by scouring newspapers, especially the Sunday paper, as well as online couponing sites for that week's deals. Her friends and family save her their unused coupons, too. If necessary, Puryear corals whomever she can to come along with her shopping trips to maximize the savings.
"Some stores have limits on how much you can buy, so sometimes I have to get my friends to come with me to buy it and bring their cars so we can transport it," she said.
Puryear juggles her charity work in between working as a mental health clinician and caring for her 5-year-old son. But she calls her work with For the Love of Others "the most exhilarating thing I could ever do in life."
"If we just spread a little more love around, the world would be such a better place," Puryear said.
Want to learn how to use couponing to save money for your family or even score items for free or cheap that you can donate to charity? This video from the Coupon Mom explains how to combine coupons with weekly deals at local stores. Follow her tips and you could be saving money — or helping others — in no time.