EUDORA, Kan. -- As we do our weekly Reaching 4 Excellence reports on outstanding young people, we are constantly on the hunt for the unique -- children and teenagers with very unusual and intriguing accomplishments and activities. We've really found one for you this week. Meet 15-year-old Broderick Topil, an amazing super shopper and one of the nation's top extreme couponers.
"It started a year and a half ago," says Broderick Topil as he cuts a coupon from a flier. "I was watching the show, Extreme Couponing, during the summer and I thought maybe I could do it, I could try it. If they could do it, I could do it." He wasn't even in high school yet but Broderick took charge, hoping to have some fun and help his family make ends meet. Leading his mom and his two older sisters in the effort, Broderick began clipping coupons in their kitchen in Eudora and started hunting for bargains. And on their first grocery shopping trip, they saved nearly 50%.
"After that," says Broderick, "we just kept getting better and better, kept figuring out the tricks." Tricks like getting five newspapers for the sale ads and coupons, checking multiple merchant and coupon websites, getting social media alerts and sending off for coupons in the mail. They are completely organized, sitting down a couple of times a week for two or three hours at a time to match up coupons with bargain ads, make shopping list and then head off to the stores.
"It's becoming like a lifestyle for my family," says Broderick. "Every time we go grocery shopping, we usually try to get 50%. We aim for that range." But Broderick consistently does much better than that. On the walls in their basement where he and his mom store surplus products they buy, Broderick proudly displays dozens of store receipts of amazing shopping trips. On one trip, he bought 109 items and he had so many high-value coupons he got it all for free and the store handed him back almost $100 in cash.
"And the store is the fun part," says Broderick. "It's my favorite part. It's when we actually go and get everything and then put it on the register and see the total go down." Coupon shopping got so good for Broderick and his family that he decided he wanted to take his extraordinary skills to a higher level -- the highest -- to the TV show that inspired him to start doing this in the first place.
"I just think it's crazy that one day I was watching the show and the next day I was on the show," says Broderick. "And it was really cool." A production crew from the TLC TV show Extreme Couponing followed Broderick and his mom and sisters for three days, shooting hours of video for a show that ran first in late November. It culminated in an extraordinary shopping trip. Broderick got almost $1,000 worth of food and household goods -- and paid less than $6 for all of it.
"That's fantastic," says FOX 4 NEWS CostCutter Heidi Schmidt. "It's better than anything I've even come close to doing." Schmidt is an expert bargain shopper and coupon clipper herself. She says Broderick is a phenomenon.
"First of all he's a boy and he's young," says Schmidt. "So those are two great things. I wish I had known how to do it when I was his age. Think of all the money he's going to save. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars over his lifetime. Which is fantastic. Another thing is he's not keeping all of it. He's giving it away to help other people in need. Which is fantastic." Yes, Broderick uses his couponing talents for good -- donating surplus to local schools and charities like the Eudora food pantry and a homeless shelter in nearby Lawrence, KS. And they sent products to the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy. And Broderick and his mom even teach classes in Eudora on couponing and bargain shopping.
"It's just awesome being able to take our talents, take our skills and being able to share our goods with everyone," says Broderick with satisfaction. "When I save a lot of money on grocery trips, it's always good knowing I'm saving my family a lot of money and knowing that I can pick up some things to donate. It's just really good for everyone."
Broderick says he expects coupon shopping and bargain shopping to always be a lifestyle for him. There's nothing, he says, like saving a lot of money -- and seeing that total on the cash register keep going down.
FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.
Phil Witt, FOX 4 News