Expert Couponer Hannah Steinberg
Tufts junior runs non-profit couponing organization to benefit various charities
When not guiding tours, serving as the president of Tufts Chabad, working in admissions, doing child development research or teaching Hebrew, junior Hannah Steinberg has managed to add running a non-profit organization to her already-full plate.
Inspired by the television show “Extreme Couponing,” where shoppers compete to save money by way of coupon use, Steinberg decided her sophomore year of high school that she wanted to learn the craft as part of her school’s community service requirement.
“Most of the people who do couponing on those shows will take the stuff and have 40 cans of soup in their garage or things like that, and they don’t really ever use it,” Steinberg said. “It didn’t make sense for me to be hoarding all this stuff if we didn’t need it, so I thought I could try and coupon to see what I could donate to other people.”
Since then, Steinberg has grown her organization Our Coupons Care into an endeavor that has donated over $100,000 to various charities, according to the organization’s website. These donations include food items as well as other themed deliveries to several organizations locally and internationally, including the Coachman Family Center, a homeless shelter located in Sternberg’s native White Plains, N.Y., and Soroka Medical Hospital, located in southern Israel.
Steinberg’s organization has been able to donate large quantities of school supplies, games and toys for the holiday season via themed deliveries of back-to-school and holiday packages. Steinberg said she does this by making every dollar she spends stretch, hoping to save in the neighborhood of 75 to 80 percent or make $1 do the work of between $4 to $5.
This is done by combining different coupons both the store and the manufacturer offer, Steinberg said. When manufacturers offer a coupon that gets used at a store, they reimburse the store for the money saved, often giving incentive for the stores to lower prices themselves so the product sells more and they can receive greater reimbursement, she explained.
Although this may sound easy, Steinberg said a lot of practice went into what she does now.
“When I first started, I had [no] clue what I was doing,” Steinberg said. “I would go and I would get like two tooth brushes and a yogurt, and I would not even be saving that much money. Couponing is something that, as you do it, you learn to do it better and better. Now I have much more effective techniques and a lot of people who also help me.”
Steinberg said her friends and family are very supportive and help her a lot with her couponing. She explained that often she is limited to buying only four of a certain product because of the different rules involved, so her friends and family will help by making additional trips, especially if there is a good deal.
“They’ll [also] help cutting coupons or just in general being supportive of me, and I think that all of that really helps me keep going,” Steinberg said.
Ivan Smith, the youth services coordinator for the Coachman Family Center in Westchester County, has worked with Steinberg since the very beginning of this project and has received many donations from her organization. Underscoring the importance of Steinberg’s work, Smith said that her donations help supplement what their homeless shelter provides and many of her donations are used by their clients daily. Smith also said that the school supplies Steinberg donates play a large part in helping the homework assistance program they run.
Smith has high hopes for the future of the Coachman Family Center, largely thanks to Steinberg’s efforts.
“We hope that through all the publicity she has gotten, more people will be generous enough to understand that there is a major problem with homelessness in this country that impacts all levels of society,” Smith said.
Steinberg has received many awards and accolades for her work, including a feature in the Wall Street Journal on May 1, 2012, and a segment on the television show The Chew. Along with being the first person under the age of 30 to win the Working in Support of Education Inspirational Leadership Award at a ceremony at Microsoft in Manhattan, according to a June 19, 2012 article on patch.com, Steinberg’s local county of Westchester, N.Y. has even declared a day in her honor.
“My mom was just like ‘What?’ She wanted me to go drive around this ice cream place that’s this local store and ask for free ice cream because it was Hannah Steinberg day,” Steinberg said.
True of course to her humble form, Steinberg declined, preferring to focus on the work she does.
“I feel I don’t deserve to have [a day], but I am very appreciative,” she said.