Friday, July 06, 2012

Progressing Towards Extreme

In late 2010, my husband and I turned on the TV and we came across a new television show that would ultimately change how we lived our lives. It was the show Extreme Couponing on TLC. We found ourselves being in awe and commenting back and forth to each other about how cool it would be to save that much at the register. We got so enamored in the show, we even set our DVR to record so we could watch it over and over again…I personally thought to myself,  “we could never do it” and doubted that we could be that good at couponing, while my husband got more and more excited to try it every week. So we began to study… week after week we watched and took mental notes. I have to say I was a bit reluctant at first but, I knew my husband was happy with my participation in learning how to coupon. Also, I still and probably always will, have a great sense of guilt on my behalf because I have not contributed financially to our household in many years being a stay-at-home with that guilt became a need to save money for our family. After watching it religiously weekly, I became convinced; we have GOT TO try this! So on March 6th, 2011 and with much joy from my husband we marked a new adventure for our family…a money saving adventure.

I will spare you all the boring details about things we did wrong at first like cutting all the coupons out the weekly circulars and coupon books then putting them in sorters…..ugghhh the LONG…very LONG hours of doing so still makes me cringe and I will concentrate on what we have learned. I hope it will help you all save money. I am going to make it clear first, we are NO WHERE CLOSE to the people on Extreme Couponing. Some of those people would buy thousands of dollars worth of groceries and only pay like 3 bucks…we aren’t that good. But, we do proudly save between 50 to 75% on our big weekly shopping trips…we did once have a very exciting trip that we saved 86% of our total bill at the grocery store. I think I leapt for joy when I got home…lol Anyways, here we go…

·         First and foremost, treat EVERY coupon as if it is cash. If you get that mindset in your head you will find more value in actually using them.

·         Don’t feel awkward or embarrassed when you decide to actually coupon. I had to get over it myself. I felt as if I was trying to pull one over on the store I shopped at and not what the truth about couponing was. Truth is: Manufacturers want you to shop their products...that's the whole purpose of those coupons in the first place. You are doing NOTHING WRONG by using them. And though that person behind the register may feel annoyed at the time having to scan all your coupons, the store itself BEGS for those coupons they receive from us customers... The more coupons that come from the stores back to the manufactures brings bigger deals in the long run when they join together to match store and manufacturer's coupons. More deals...means more customers...means more cash!

·         Buy multiple newspapers. We buy at least two every Sunday, and then my husband has friends at work that give us coupon books they don't use from home which makes it so easy to buy items in bulk.

·         Don’t cut any coupons out! Read the next one to understand why.

·         Use the web…the internet is a Couponer’s best friend. There are sooooo many websites that are out there that will help you match the weekly circular ads to currently active coupons. We found an AMAZING website we use to help us along called Southern Savers. It does a lot of the leg work for you; which is really nice being a mom of 4 busy busy children. That particular website I mentioned above will let you know what the sales price is of a product, where to get the coupon from be it from a webpage, SS (Smart Source) or RP (Red Plum) then it gives the date of when it was published (located on the spine of the outside cover of your coupon books you receive in the newspaper each week) AND what the end cost should be after all applied coupons. So you want those coupon books intact and we use filing cabinet folders to organize them in order of publish dates for easy reading. It makes it sooo much easier to find the right coupon for the specific deal THEN clip/cut the coupon out of the coupon books. Clipping every coupon out of the books and putting them in individual sorters is such a pain! Having the coupon books intact also makes it easier to purge outdated coupon books and the coupons you didn't use as they expire. Southern Savers even has a built in shopping list to aid you in-store. So do your research and try to find a local coupon matching website for your area.

·          Have a working printer. Sooooo many manufacturers are now viral. They have their own webpages, facebook pages and even twitter accounts that will post coupons from time to time that you need to print off. Also,,, and offer printable coupons as well. You can usually print two per coupon if you click the back button 3 times in your browser after the first one prints.

·         Try your hardest to stack coupons. What I mean by that is you can use both a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon at the same time on any 1 or multiple items depending on the wording on each coupon.

·         We learned to make meals out of deals. We build our menu for the week AFTER we have made our shopping list with coupons. Then and ONLY then do we add things that aren’t on sale to the shopping list if we need something to complete a particular meal. If you get good at buying in bulk you will find the longer you coupon the more likely you have those items already in your pantry saving you even more money.

·         If your local grocery store has a reward card program, don’t let them scan your card first before ringing up your purchases and using all your coupons. Some manufacturer’s coupons won’t work along with a big sale item. For some reason though, if you have scanned both the groceries and all the coupons THEN have them scan the reward card it works. A computer system thing I believe. Plus, it is REALLY fun to watch those last few dollars saved beep…beep…beep off of your total amount too. Gives me a bit of a rush actually.

·         Be careful of misleading coupons!!! Read the coupon’s fine print!!!! Sometimes the pictures on the coupons don’t match the product to which you are supposed to buy.

·         Make notes on our shopping list which tells you exactly what amount you can buy so there are no mix-ups at the counter which can make things soooo chaotic especially if you are buying bulk items. So if you have two coupons for the same product that states: $1.00 of 3 (insert product name) … you need to mark on your shopping list the number 6.

·         And lastly, have fun with it. We include our children in it. We all sit down together after I compile our shopping list and find the coupons on our list, we really have a good time with it. It doesn’t hurt that the kiddlets are learning that money doesn’t grow on trees and how to honor a dollar as well. My 5 year old son already knows how to read and count money and will tell us if he thinks something is a good deal or if it is too expensive and YES he uses the word My 11 year old is our best coupon finder. When our list says we need to find a particular coupon published on a particular date he rocks at finding them. My 13 year old is a whiz at locating an item in the grocery store and my 4 year old daughter sits in the cart and organizes the groceries so it is WAY easier to scan…she’s my sorter.

We are still a work in progress, but we are progressing towards Extreme Couponing. Don't know if I will ever pay only 3 bucks for $1000 worth of groceries.... but, it sure is fun trying!

If you have any questions for me, additional tips and/or a webpage you use to aid you in your coupon adventures please feel free to comment on this post. I would LOVE to hear from you! Let us help each other.


Gwen Parker said...

Way to go Christie! It just seems like there's so much to it. I've joined all the reward programs at our local stores and made sure we were signed up for weekily mailing/circulars. I'm slowly progressing and hope to have it down like you and your family soon.

Amanda Olvey said...

This is do great advice! I've watched the show Extreme Couponing but have found it a bit overwhelming to tackle. Your tips make it seem totally doable! Thanks!!

Christie said...

Thank you both. With 4 children we had to find a way to make it simple and easy. One thing I did fail to mention... if you are a warehouse store shopper like, BJ's, Sam's or Costco... there is an added tip! You can use multiple coupons on one packaged product at the warehouse clubs. You know how they have like 4 shampoos bundled together? Well, you can use 4 coupons. Just something I thought about while driving today and thought I'd share!