May 3, 2011

Nathan Engels, Mr. Coupon - An Interview

I recently hooked up with  after meeting its administrator, Nathan Engels, at a conference in Nashville. He is an inspiring, energizing, motivational kind of guy who, at that time, I had never heard of before.

As I was getting acquainted with the We Use Coupons site, TLC's show, Extreme Couponing, began to make waves and create a buzz.  I started watching the show only to find Nathan Engels, a/k/a Mr. Coupon, front and center, one of Extreme Couponing's Extreme Couponers.  (Try saying that three times fast)

Of course the biggest buzz about the show tends to be derision that couponers would stockpile so much stuff.   The buzz is that these couponers should give stuff to charity (many do).  The buzz is that they work full-time on couponing and nothing else (many do).  But the buzz also is that more and more of us have turned back to couponing and have been motivated to be more frugal.

I thought it odd that Nathan Engels, previously unheard of, would suddenly pop up everywhere.  So when I recently was offered the opportunity to interview him via email, I jumped on it.  Several of you submitted questions for me to ask him and I tried to squeeze them all in.

First and foremost, I asked what he thought about the outcry against stockpiling.  "Greed is all in the eyes of the beholder," he said.  "When people save for 30, 40 or even 50 years for retirement, no one blinks an eye.  But if you or I want to save essentially using the same concept on my grocery bill, people think it's odd or greedy.  No one is demanding that people give half of their retirement away, but people seem to be clamoring for stock pilers to give items to charity."

Engels did, in fact, give a lot to charity, which was mentioned, but not pictured on the show.  He had the Food Bank come pick up items on the afternoon of the last day of filming, donating 700 - 800 boxes of cereal.   Most stockpilers claim that they plan meals around what they have in stock and continue to use stock.  The Engels family, for instance, didn't have to buy any diapers for their baby for over 14 months.  Click here to see his shopping list from the show and what was given to charity.

Engels continued, "I'm all for giving, we give abundantly, but I kind of take offense to people who say, 'Oh, you're greedy, give it away.'  I don't tell others how to spend their money OR what to do with their savings.  No one is recommending therapy for people who have $200,000 in the bank for retirement."

Contrary to what you might think, Engels hasn't been obsessed with coupons his whole life, he didn't get serious about coupons until after his marriage three years ago.   He and his wife realized they had accumulated too much debt when they merged their finances, so they got serious about saving money.  I had the opportunity to ask his mother a question.  I asked her if she saw this in his future when he was young?  " He
was my adventurous/unpredictable child
," she answered, "He's literally traveled the globe by himself, learned Spanish, and now is showing the country to save money! I'm very proud."

Below are some of the questions you submitted followed by Nathan Engels' answers, enjoy!

Me:  On the show, the coupons are for junk food, noodles, cookies, candy, frozen dinners.. How do you save money on healthy foods?

NE:  Look for sales.  More and more coupons are coming out for Organic products.  I always say that saving money is an intentional act.  Look for deals and you will find them everywhere!

 Me:  I love the idea of saving all that money!  However.... everything I read or watch tells me it takes soooo much time to clip, organize, plan, etc.  I wonder if there is a way to get some of the benefit without all the time.

NE:  Having a method that works for you is the key here.  You have to find a system.  I spend 5 - 15 hours a week doing this because I know exactly what I'm doing.  Once you get a system that works, you'll be amazed at how quickly it goes!

Editor's Note:  Click here for my post on coupon organization.

Me:  One of my readers has really started cutting her bill a lot, but now she wants to cut it even more.  How can she get to the next level?  How can she acquire coupons  in the least costly manner?

NE:  I dumpster dive!!  That way I don't have to pay for coupons from the paper.  To see his video on Dumpster Diving:  Click here.  (Jen, I reluctantly post this.  I have great concerns where this might take you in life)

Me:  What is one moment from the show that stands out in your memory?

NE:  "I won't ever smell!"  I can't believe I said that! LOL.  (referring to a deoderant stock pile)

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Full Disclosure:  I am part of the affiliate program at WeUseCoupons.

1 comment:

jen said...

Lololol....that is sooooo funny...I already hit the dumsters on spring break!!! It was awesome walking away with all those coupons! Great interview Val!!!