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Welcome Coupon Queen!

Feeling the pinch of these uncertain economic times? What if we showed you how to shave hundreds off your grocery bills with just a bit of planning, stockpiling and organizing?

A new column that will run weekly beginning May 30 in this paper promises to do just that.

Author Jill Cataldo - the self-proclaimed "Coupon Queen" - has turned saving at the grocery store into an art form.

Each week, Cataldo will share her secrets of "super couponing" - advice that has earned her appearances on Oprah, WGN, WLS news and radio, ABC Morning News and Chicago's Loop radio.

In her column, Cataldo will discuss money saving methods like "stockpiling" and "stacking," showing shoppers how to save money on groceries and other household items - and many times, even get items for free.

How does she do it?

It's simple, Cataldo said.

Grocery stores operate on a 12-week cycle, with food items at their lowest prices every 12 weeks, so Cataldo recommends "stockpiling," or purchasing large quantities of a given item when it is at its lowest price.

By doing so, Cataldo said shoppers are guaranteed to have enough to last until the end of the next 12-week cycle.

Then, Cataldo said she saves coupons she acquires from newspaper inserts and on the Internet and redeems them when the items go on sale.

"I bought 8 boxes of cereal and 40 boxes of granola bars, all name brands, for a total of $5.15 - including tax," Cataldo said. "This summer, one of my favorite stores gave me a $20 bonus coupon for a future visit after I purchased nine tubes of name-brand toothpaste for 63 cents."

Cataldo said some stores will even allow shoppers to "stack" coupons - using both manufacturer coupons and store-originated coupons together.

Manufacturers of products then reimburse stores for the full value of the coupon, plus an additional 8 cents handling, she said.

Intrigued? Want to learn more?

Just pick up your latest edition of this paper or read the column on-line at www.denpubs.com and Cataldo will show you step by step how to save as much as 90 percent on your next trip to the grocery store.

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