Jane Franco-Ward is a big game hunter, and her choice of weapon? A pair of scissors.
The Wilkinsburg resident's expertise in saving money through inventive use of store and manufacturers' coupons recently earned her a call from the TLC program "Extreme Couponing."
She'll be featured tonight at 10, doing what she seems born to do -- clipping ads to save large amounts of money while accumulating equally large amounts of household goods, makeup and groceries.
"I loved it," she said of filming the show as she shopped. "It was all about me, and they were just following what I always do."
Anyone who has read her online blog (www.couponshoppinwitjane.com) or watched her YouTube channel videos knows Mrs. Franco-Ward is a big league shopper. The woman knows her way around a UPC code, and she's not afraid to share what she knows.
"I'd always been a frugal shopper, and I started, really, by purchasing items on sale with coupons," she said. "It started with small things: deodorant, soap, whatnot."
Her children encouraged her to talk about her savings on YouTube. A recent video, "How I won the battle at Walmart -- Yes" describes how she nabbed Scrubbing Bubbles toilet bowl cleaner for free.
But it wasn't easy. At first, she said, store employees weren't going to match a sale price, and even then, she still had to call Walmart headquarters to make it happen.
Judicious use of coupons often results in her paying little, if anything, for products. Mrs. Franco-Ward said she is at "99 percent savings, that's fantastic."
She subscribes to both local daily newspapers and clips coupons printed off the Web. Her favorite stores are CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart and Shop 'n Save, but Giant Eagle's coupon policies, she said, generally don't allow for "stacking," which combines different offers.
"I'm going for the things I can save the most money on, and that was my goal from the beginning," she said. "I'm shopping for deals; I'm a bottom-line shopper."
One time she found a deal for pricey John Frieda hair color that was too good to pass up: more than a year's supply, worth $500. Thanks to the combination of coupons and specials, she ended up getting back store credit.
In general, the staff at her favorite stores are helpful -- "They know me and they're very nice," although there's one, she said in a video post, that "is very snickety."
There is the misconception that extreme couponers end up with basements full of stuff they really don't want or need.
"I think you get negative stories that it takes a lot of time, or you have to deal with negative checkers; it's not worth your while; you're couponing for things you don't need or really use, which is not true at all," she said. "You're going to get the best of everything, the best fruits and vegetables, cheese, household goods ...."
Perhaps her biggest wonder is why, in this economy, more people don't coupon.
"This is a strategy, it's a game, if you will. But it's also serious, because it's expensive to live in this world."
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.