ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Kelly Champion runs a blog called Northern Illinois Couponing. She coupons a lot - but it means more during the holiday season when she puts her coupon prowess to work for charity.
"Every year since I've been a little kid we've [her church] done Christmas baskets for the community."
Last year she says she got a pit in her stomach when she realized how much money had been spent by her colleagues at church..and how much money she could have saved them.
"They were spending tons of money, and they didn't need to."
So she took it upon herself to give more -- by spending less.
"When you can get things for 50 cents or less or even $1 throw it in a bag. When the bag is full go donate it somewhere," Champion says.
"Take it to the next level, you don't have to buy a $20 toy. Spend $10 and get someone a bag of groceries."
She's collected nearly a thousand items over the course of the last year. St. Mark's Lutheran Church will give the food and toiletries to nearly 40 families this Christmas, just like they've always done. But this year they will have tons of money leftover to donate even bigger items, like Turkeys and gift cards.
And Champion only spent $167.34 for the entire sweep.
"It truly has been one bag at a time," she says. "I could never do this much if i did not use my coupons."
To get the best deals, Champion encourages shoppers to wait until there's a sale, then pair your coupons with the in-store price. She also says its best to be thoughtful when donating gifts to people in need. For example, think of what the family or homeless person deals with every day.
Simple gifts like lip balm or travel size items may be more convenient. And for families with kids, make sure to give them stocking stuffers that they wouldn't ordinarily get.
She can't stress the importance of waiting for double and triple coupon days. At most storse, the days come as a surprise. Her favorite deals are at Schnucks. If the store is doing a coupon event, it will be posted on the Schnucks website the night before, around 7:30pm.
Champion also swears by the Chicago Tribune. She says it has the best coupons by far.
Visit her blog for more ideas: