Extreme couponing is nothing new; people have been doing it for years to save money, make the most of their couponing efforts and save for luxury items. Even with a small stash of coupons, you can make a dent in your weekly grocery trip but you will need to know the policies that stores have. Some will accept printed coupons that can be found online, others will not. Some store have a set limit on the number of coupons that you can use at a time. Across the boards stores will only accept one coupon for each item purchased; if you have a .30 cent off coupon for Hot Pockets you can’t use five of them to get $1.50 off one box. You can however buy five boxes of Hot Pockets and use five coupons.
Before you start extreme couponing there are some things that you need to consider. If you have the time to kill each day to organize coupons, cut them and file them then you can save a lot of money but don’t buy things just to save money. There’s a difference between stocking up and wasting money. If you don’t have a need for diapers but you can get the packaged of Pampers for a dollar a pack it’s a wasted dollar unless you plan on donating them or using them for baby shower gifts. I know a few people that are addicted to couponing and will buy anything they can get a good deal on but they simply have no use for the items. One of them is on the brink of needing an intervention because she converted two of her bedrooms to storage rooms for the things that she’s been stocking up on. Again, there’s nothing wrong with stocking up on things but know what you need and what you can make use of.
Coupon Swapping: If you accumulate a lot of coupons that you don’t need or have no use for, you can get together with other coupon lovers and swap them. This is a great way to build up a solid base of coupons as well as to allow others to save money in the process. Some stores will accept expired coupons so before you throw them out when you do a weekly purge, consider connecting with other couponers to pass on the expired or past-dated coupons.
Organization Is Key: No two people are going to have the same way of storing their coupons; some prefer to have them by food type while others like to have things set up for different areas of a store like frozen foods, toiletries, cleaners, canned food and snacks. A well made plastic case is better than using fabric mini pouch carriers; you can carry them easier, store more of them and there’s less of a chance of them getting shuffled or dropped.
Weekly Purge: Doing a weekly purge of coupons can help when you are planning a shopping trip. I store my coupons with the newer ones in the rear of the section so the ones that are due to expire first are at the beginning of the stack. While it seems like a lot of work to pick out the expired coupons, once you get the hang of seeing where the dates are located on the coupons you can get through the task in about fifteen minutes.
Knowing What You Need: One of the things that is completely unrealistic about “extreme couponing” is the mass hoarding of supplies. No one needs a 100 boxes of tampon or 50 bottles of bleach unless you have a huge family. When certain television shows started showcasing extreme couponing they failed to mention the number of items that had to be thrown out because they expired or posed a health risk. They also didn’t address how this type of extreme buying can lead to hoarding. I am all for getting a bargain and stocking up on things but be realistic about what you are purchasing. If you find yourself with a surplus of food or other items, consider donating some of it to a local food bank that can distribute it to those who are in need.
Double Play: If your local grocery stores have weekly specials and you have coupons for the items that are on sale you can do a double play to save even more money. Shopping at stores that double coupons sounds like a good deal but if the base price is higher than normal that is going to eat in to your overall savings. In some cases buying in-store products from stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi can be a smarter way to shop so you need to know what’s out there, the base prices and who is offering the best deal. Once a year a local store offers a triple coupon weekend for coupons up to .49 cents. That is one of the busiest weekends but you have to have a solid game plan before you go to the store to avoid buying things that seem like they are a deal but when you do the math on the items you aren’t saving more than you would shopping at any other time. If you have a .75 cent off coupon for apple juice that sells for $2.49 you can save $1.50 if they double coupons up to .99 cents but when there is a triple coupon event and you can only use a coupon up to .49 cents you will be saving but not as much as you would normally. Let’s say you have a .35 cent off coupon, tripled that is going to save you $1.05 instead of using a .75 cent off coupon at any other time.
Everyone wants to save money but extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. It takes time, you need to be organized and you will have to check all of the sales for the week before you figure out which stores are offering the best deals.