Helping fellow Niners through extreme couponing

Helping fellow Niners through extreme couponing
Monday, November 22, 2021

When Lauren Farmer is not in class or busy studying, she is extreme couponing. Yes, you heard that right. The senior chemistry, history and sociology major and math minor pairs coupons with the store's weekly sales to save as much money as possible, while accumulating the most products.

Farmer started couponing in high school to save money for college and to stock up on necessities and began extreme couponing as a sophomore at UNC Charlotte. After filling her and her family’s shelves, Farmer started using her savvy shopping skills to help stock the shelves of UNC Charlotte’s Jamil Niner Student Pantry with needed food and hygiene products.

Why did you decide to use extreme couponing as a way to support the Jamil Niner Student Pantry? 

When I began hard-core extreme couponing my sophomore year, I noticed I was able to get more products than I needed. That's when I made sure once I was stocked up that my family and friends were stocked up as well. But, even after that I had so many things left over. That was when I decided to donate to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry. I know what the struggle is like having a tight budget in school and how, as a student, you should be focusing more on school work than “How am I going to be able to afford groceries.” I wanted to help alleviate that pressure and began donating as much as I could to help my fellow Niners. 

What types of products have you donated to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry?

Sometimes it is easier to coupon for personal hygiene products more than food products. Because of that, I donate a lot of toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine care, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, shavers, etc. There are times when I can find really good grocery sales and am able to donate pasta sauces, instant potatoes, pasta, salad dressing, yogurts, cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, etc. You can coupon for just about anything you can think of, it just takes a little bit of time and effort. 

Tell us about being a social media influencer.

I joined TikTok about a year ago initially as a means to just share my shopping hauls, but now it has turned into this way of teaching thousands of people how to coupon. I hit 50,000 followers last week. I teach people all over the United States how to coupon and find deals. My platform is primarily to show how I coupon as a college student and how it's helped me personally throughout my education here at UNC Charlotte. My handles for TikTok and Instagram are @couponingwithcraylolo. Through social media, I have been able to reach out to others who extreme coupon in the Charlotte area, and I have been able to get them to start donating to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry, as well.

What have you learned about yourself through extreme couponing?

Extreme couponing has taught me a variety of things. I now have a better understanding of how to save money and budget. My favorite thing I learned is that many people think buying the generic store brand saves you money, when in reality if you use coupons, you can get name brand items cheaper than generic store branded products. 

Tell us a fun story about your extreme couponing.

The first time I ever had a negative balance was when I was at Harris Teeter my sophomore year at UNC Charlotte. A friend came with me to coupon, and we ended up getting over $250 worth of products. At checkout, the total after coupons ended up negative. That was the first time I had ever hard-cored couponed to get my total that low. Harris Teeter's policy is that they won't give you cashback if your total is negative, so my friend and I had to throw in a few candy bars and in the end, we ended up paying pennies for everything. 

Editor’s Note: There are many different ways to help the Jamil Niner Student Pantry. One way is to support UNC Charlotte’s #GivingTuesday campaign on Tuesday, Nov. 30 by making a gift to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry or by participating in the Pantry’s virtual food drive.