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How to Shop for Free: Shopping Secrets for Smart Women Who Love to Get Something for Nothing Paperback – November 30, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Boston shopping maven Spencer sure knows her stuff�that is, how to take advantage of coupons, in-store sales, rewards clubs, and the like to reap bargains for nothing (or close to zero). With the help of writer Samantha Rose, the author takes us through a whirlwind of savings strategies and ideas, always executed on the up and up. To break up what could be pages upon pages of instructions, sidebars are liberally applied�hot tips (e.g., snag as many Sunday newspaper inserts as you can), work it (exercises to help you maximize budgets), shopper�s hall of fame (testimonials from the parsimonious), and so on. And resources at the end of each chapter provide website URLs. In essence, Spencer and Rose demystify the marketing lingo�like blinkies, tearpads, CATS�and demonstrate very practical methods to score deals. such as joining product-testing groups or flipping (switching) prescriptions at pharmacies to gain gift cards and further discounts. Yes, Virginia, there is a lot of preparation time and effort involved in shopping for free. On the other hand, Santa could visit more than once a year. --Barbara Jacobs


San Francisco Book Review, December 2010
“[Spencer’s] techniques make sense.”

Bookviews.com, 11/28/10
“[Spencer] lets the reader in on the little-known tricks of the retail world…This book is a treasure of information about store club programs, the ins and outs of eBay, how to avoid consumer scams, and the truths about rebates. This is a shopper’s dream come true.”

MomsWord.org, 11/27/10
“This is a book that everyone needs to own.”
Tampa Tribune, 12/5/10
“All [Spencer’s] methods are on the up-and-up…A good guide for those new to combining couponing with sales and other incentives.”

Blogcritics.org, 12/3/10
“A great basic introduction to shopping with coupons and bargain shopping in general. It really takes the process step by step…How to Shop for Free will certainly help you reduce your expenses.”
WomanAroundTown.com, 12/1/10
“Spencer gives us the lowdown on shopping more, paying less. No kidding, this is a serious—nay, scholarly—approach to value shopping; and friends, I am so there.”
InfoDad.com, 12/9/10
“There is plenty of solid information here and a certain amount of silliness, which is actually a positive thing, as if the authors take their money-saving strategies seriously but not too seriously…[The] highly specific information on loyalty programs, coupon Web sites, manufacturers’ sites and discount plans, prescription-drug savings and more, will be very useful to people who are trying to make their money go further.”
BargainBabe.com, 12/8/10
“Kathy shows you how to get the most deals with the least out of pocket expenses and explains how to combine the various reward cards with sales, rebates, and coupons for the best savings.”
Boston Herald, 12/10/10
“You’ll save big bucks if you follow the advice in How to Shop for Free.”
MommyWantsFreebies.com, 12/19/10
“[An] amazing book.”
MomsOwnWords.com, 12/15/10
“Kathy explains everything on how to get started by setting your savings goals, getting organized,  and how to match sales with savings...How to Shop for Free is so well organized and thoughtfully written for the newbie…and yet, even the most expert shopper will enjoy this comprehensive how to book.”
RunningWithHeels.com, 12/28/10
“A helpful guide geared towards smart women who love to get something for nothing…Ground-breaking concepts.”

The Argus Observer
, 1/6/11
“Tired of pinching pennies til Abe screams? You might not need pennies at all if you’ve got this book. With an infectious enthusiasm, personal anecdotes, and weigh-ins from fans who’ve saved…How to Shop for Free is an incredible book to have if your pockets are empty…How can you be without a book like this in times like these? You can’t.”
Organic Family on a Budget (blog), 1/8/11
“Kathy has some excellent shopping tips…This book is incredible. Truly. After you read it, you'll never pay full price again. For anything…This is one book that’s not going to be collecting dust on my bookshelf.”
Midwest Book Review, January 2011
“A penny saved is a penny earned, and Kathy Spencer knows how to save a lot of pennies…Her wisdom can help readers enjoy their hobby of shopping with a more agreeable price tag of nothing…A powerful and useful resource, enthusiastically recommended.”
Kingman Daily Miner, 1/14/11
“These economic times make it necessary to save wherever you can. This book…can save you considerable dollars!...Highly recommended.”

News, 1/27/11
“A quick and conversational guide book that is chock full of insight and advice…The step-by-step textbook for shopaholics…There are a ton of good tips and tricks…The book is a great value—especially in helping readers to realize the absurdity of mindlessly spending money and full retail price for consumer goods.”
Booklist Online, 1/26/11
“Boston shopping maven Spencer sure knows her stuff…With the help of writer Samantha Rose, the author takes us through a whirlwind of savings strategies and ideas, always executed on the up and up…Spencer and Rose demystify the marketing lingo—like blinkies, tearpads, CATS—and demonstrate very practical methods to score deals.”

Technorati.com, 2/12/11
“Reading about some of Spencer’s amazing deals is a delight in itself, learning how to get them is the reward for that reading…Who would imagine that reading about buying toilet paper and aspirin could be so much fun? Read How to Shop for Free for entertainment or education; either way, you’ll come out a winner.”

VIVmag.com, 2/18/11
“[Spencer’s] infectious enthusiasm and promise of money that can be saved is appealing even to the skeptics among us.”
Book and Chocolate Blog, 2/16/11
“I gleaned some good information from this book…I found my motivation in the final chapter as Spencer wrote about paying it forward by using the coupon system to obtain free or nearly free items to donate.”
Boston Globe, 2/27/11
“In the world of ‘extreme couponing,’ Spencer…has quickly risen to guru status.”
MoneyCrashers.com, 4/14/11
“[A] valuable book. Whether you’re just starting out with coupons, or you are a seasoned veteran…you will find some useful information that can convert to more cash savings in your pocket. For that reason, this book pays for itself…Educational, easy to follow, and easy to implement.”

Yahoo! Shine, 6/6/11
“Spencer teaches readers how to get everything…for nothing! Whether she’s showing you how to take advantage of coupons, in-store sales and rewards clubs, or breaking down the marketing lingo, like blinkies, tearpads and CATS, Spencer’s advice is easy-to-understand, actionable and fun!”

TangoDiva.com, 10/12/11
“The ultimate handbook for Smart Divas who Love to get Something for Nothing!...Kathy teaches us how to work the magic from member discounts to freebies. She is a devoted consumer advocate and a shopping diva’s true and trusted friend!”

BizIndia.net, 12/6/11
“Your investment of $14.95—the cost of this book—can give you a return of hundreds of times the purchase amount…Full of money-savings ideas… This is a wonderful book…written in clear and simple language.”

River Valley Sun
“The best primer I have found to learn the ins and outs of extreme savings…Of all the books I have reviewed to date on the subject of couponing and other savings techniques, How to Shop for Free is by far the easiest to put into action with great results, as well as being the most comprehensive.”

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books; First edition (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738214566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738214566
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Three years ago, my husband Brian (pictured above) was up for a large promotion when he was hit with a nasty flu that within days landed him in the hospital with life-threatening pneumonia. As the primary breadwinner for our family of six, his medical bills and prolonged absence from work hit us very hard financially.

While he was recovering, I began scheming ways we could save money. I'd always followed store promotions and casually clipped coupons, but it wasn't a "lifestyle," per se. One day in between trips to the hospital, I ran into a convenience store to buy juice. I noticed a bottle of cranberry that was on sale for a dollar that I just so happened to have a coupon for. The coupon gave me a dollar off that brand, so guess what - the juice was free. That's when the light bulb went off - What if I applied this shopping strategy to more than just cranberry juice? From that day on, I began challenging myself to shop for free.

Today, we look like we have it all. We live in a 3,000 square-foot home on nearly three acres of land in an affluent community. My husband and I drive vehicles that we paid for in cash. My kids and I wear name-brand clothes. Our oldest is in college and we have no credit card debt. What's more, my husband and I never fight about money. How many married couples can say that?

The irony is that my husband never got his promotion; he makes $45,000 a year. And yet, to take a walk through our house and sit down at our dinner table, you'd never know that "on paper," we're considered low-income. We live a life of abundance because I've discovered the secret to having more of what we want, for less. And guess what? You, too, can learn how to shop for free and have it all.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wanting to save money is a no-brainer in today's economy - being able to do it, is another thing. Kathy Spencer does a great job of explaining how, when and why to get things at a great price and to "pay it forward" when you are able to score on great deals. I bought this book - actually 3 - one for me, one for a friend, and one for my mom (I really wanted to help them save more money) - has more than paid for itself I don't know how many times. I love going to stores now with a handful of coupons, a cartfull of groceries and I get to leave with a lot more in my pocket than I used to - and way more in my pantry. Thank you Kathy!!
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Format: Paperback
As a former Marine, a recently divorced dad of 2 with a full time job and an MBA, I have to say OOOORAH. This book is a "how to" on money management. It was written intentionally or not "Marine proof." That means that any person who can read this book can follow the script laid out for you by Kathy. It is an easy read with checklists, resources and / or "work it" exercises at the end of the chapters to get you in the thought process and attitude to find the deals. In my first week of reading this book I have already saved over $33.00 using the tools in the book. Now the book costs $[...], therefore I am still up $[...] (assuming I paid full price, I didn't, I had a coupon) if I never use another idea, coupon or strategy Kathy laid out in this book.
Yes, Kathy plugs her website in this book, but it is free to join; [...] and I hope this isn't the first time you have heard of it. If it is check it out. This book is a great compliment to the site and has now given me the additional knowledge I needed to maximize the resources provided on the site. This is a process and takes organization, knowledge and a little time each week. The good news is this book will show you how to get organized, where & how to get the knowledge and you just need to budget your time. I look forward to reading your "Hall of Fame" in the weeks to come.
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Format: Paperback
in the last 2 weeks since i read this book, i have saved $155.28 on necessities that i would have needed to buy anyway.. and i didnt even include all the free extras like free jewelry and free snacks and free gifts for my family. this book is so good that when i was forced to return it to the library (hey, im cheap, of course i read library things rather than buying most of the time) i chose to buy it because its so good that i felt like it would be saving money to have it in the house. if it can save over 155 dollars in 2 weeks imagine how much it could save if you had it for a year to refer back to. the math is 4030 dollars on necessities per year,, (the extras are gravy on top, delicious cubic zirconia/sterling silver/cashmere sweater dress/ flavored gravy).

now, many have said that you can learn it all online. well that is a load of bull plop. the time you would spend learning online could better be spent saving after reading this book in a couple afternoons. time is money, if you spend 2 weeks finding out how to do it online you could be missing out on the immediate savings of one hundred and fifty five dollars. so, if you think you are saving money by NOT buying the book, you are really losing one hundred and forty six dollars instead of saving 9$ on a book. would you rather save nine dollars and lose one hundred and forty six dollars (2 weeks savings-purchase price), or would you rather spend nine dollars and have an extra 146 dollars in your pocket by the time the internet learners are just figuring out how to START saving money?. its simple math really. you lose money trying to learn without the book.
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Format: Paperback
Kathy Spencer is a "Coupon Queen". She can dress her kids in designer duds for free, fill a grocery cart for $4 out of pocket and even get stores to pay her to buy things. She may be able to teach you to do these things to. In order to be a shopping Queen like Kathy you musth:

Be able to invest a great deal of time in researching deals, driving from store to store and reselling excess goods.
Live in an area that accepts double coupons and have several grocery stores within driving distance.
Have some extra cash to invest in buying goods to resell, purchase coupons in bluk an djump on clearance sales when they pop up.

If you don't have or can't spare those three things, then this book may not be for you. However, if you're willing to put in the effort, give up the time and risk the resources, you can be a shopping Queen like Kathy.

Kathy does provide a very detailed account of how she does what she does. Alot of it I already knew, but there were some things I learned that are worth the price of the book twice over. And if you're a total beginner to the frugal shopping lifestyle, this book could very well be you're new bible.
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I found this book in my local library and ended up reading it in one session -- I couldn't put it down. Written in a breezy, entertaining fashion it is packed with valuable information for those shoppers new to couponing and a few advanced tricks, for seasoned shoppers, too.

The book is comprehensive, but I do want to note that not all of the coupon strategies the author mentions will work for all parts of the country. This isn't a criticism because I can't imagine how she could possible address every possibility in each part of the country. But, for example, in my city when buying BOGO (buy one get one free) deals, only one coupon is permitted per deal, not two. Also, other than one big box store in the area, overages that occur when a coupon is worth more than the the sale price of the item are either reduced down to the actual price of the item (still a good deal) or outright rejected by the store (bummer.)

The author mentions problems with cashiers, and I find it one of the most frustrating parts of trying to use coupons as part of my shopping saving strategy. I am always polite and work hard at ensuring I have the correct coupon for each item, yet I find many clerks do not want to accept coupons -- they argue, dispute, and unfortunately do not scan all of the coupons handed to them. So, additional time and effort must be spent to carefully watch while they are scanning and know what the total should be at the end of the transaction. You might also have to politely wait while a manager is called to explain to the clerk why a coupon should be accepted.

Somewhere I read that three quarters of the people who start couponing stop after a couple of attempts, and it is understandable.
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