I recently watched a marathon of episodes of TLC’s Extreme Couponing. If you have never watched the show, it shows “extreme couponers” clipping, saving and shopping to save money on groceries and other items. The savings were so amazing they had me reaching for my scissors and store circular. You can catch episodes on TLC or download from Amazon here; Extreme Couponing
During the course of the show these obsessed save-a-holics spent hours preparing for their grocery shop. They clipped coupons, matched to store circulars, researched buys online and more. Then they sweated it out at the cash register making sure all the coupons were counted. They realized savings of hundreds of dollars and in some cases the stores even paid them to take the items home! A few of them did some things I am not willing to do:
1. Dumpster dive to get extra circulars.
2. Spend 30 hours plus a week clipping coupons.
3. Buy items I do not want or need just because it’s free.
4. Build a huge stockpile of items that we would not use in a reasonable amount of time. (80 bottles of bodywash – come on!)
5. Store things under beds, in the bedroom closet and other places.
6. Use products I really don’t like just because they are on sale.
7. Treat my husband like dirt because my couponing is not going well while crying about how happy I am to save my grandma money couponing. (One extreme couponer actually did this).
On the other hand I could certainly do better than just clipping the occasional coupon. After all couponing is a multi-billion dollar business certainly I should get a little piece of that pie. If I just saved $10 a week couponing that would be $520 a year. And saving $20 a week would amount to $1000 a year. Enough to pay for a nice vacation!
I started by researching coupon sites to get a feel for the best approach. I discovered that many couponers use a thick binder like this one: Case-it XLarge Capacity 4-Inch D-Ring Zipper Binder with 5-Tab File Folder, Blue along with clear inserts like these: Coupon Binder Pages – 50 Page Assortment + Bonus Sleeve to store and organize coupons. And if you plan to clip multiple inserts at one time, a paper cutter like this one comes in handy: Swingline ClassicCut Lite 12 Inch Guillotine Trimmer, Desktop, 10 Sheet
Next I wanted to find as many coupons as I could without resorting to dumpster diving as some extreme couponers did. Happily, coupons are not hard to find. They are everywhere. You can find them online at sites like Coupon.com, at manufacturer and grocery store sites, in the newspaper and magazines, at Facebook and other social media sites and other places. What works best is to match up your coupons with a store’s weekly circular. Weekly circulars can be found in the newspaper and online.
As I explored the world of couponing, I picked up a lot of tips:
1. Shop for meals by what is on sale, don’t decide on meals and then shop.
2. The smaller size is usually the best bargain with a coupon.
3. Coupon shopping at a regular store can beat out shopping at a warehouse.
4. Items go on sale every few months or so. Stocking up on essentials, like toilet paper, when it is on sale is a great idea.
5. Go online to a favorite grocery store to download coupons directly to a store loyalty card.
6. Googling the specific product name + coupon can sometimes bring up offers for items you are interested in.
7. There are lots of blogs and sites online to learn about the latest specials and more.
8. Going out to eat or ordering in? Google the name of the restaurant and/or visit their Facebook page for specials.
My first week couponing was a success. It took some time but by matching up coupons to what was on sale, buying “buy one get one free items” and seeking out the store bargains I was able to save almost $35 on my $140 grocery bill. Now certainly my haul was not as great as one extreme couponer who paid $2.47 for $800 worth of groceries. But then I did not buy a ton of energy drinks, tic tacs or other items I did not need. Nor did I spend hours preparing for my visit. Overall, I was pretty pleased with my shop and definitely plan to continue couponing. So no I will never be an extreme couponer but I will certainly make the effort to save some bucks and feed my face and my families 🙂
Want more ideas on couponing?
One book I read that was jam packed with great ideas wasHow I Paid $8 for $170 Worth of Groceries (Confessions of a Coupon Fashionista). You can download it on your Kindle instantly. If you don’t have an eReader you can download a free app to your PC or other device here: http://amzn.to/14gJ8U0 or pick up a Kindle Fire here:
Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers
Let me know about your experiences with couponing!