The Learning Channel’s show, Extreme Couponing, inspired me to be the budget-crunching stay-at-home mom that I’ve always secretly wanted to be. If I could save money on child-care, car payments and gasoline by staying home with my kids, then saving money at the grocery store with coupons would be just as valuable as earning an income. Time is money, and so are coupons. So, I tried it and I failed.
The Extreme Couponing Formula
I learned the sorcerer’s trick of those ladies who buy $300 worth of groceries for $10.00. They use store coupons and manufacturer’s coupons for the same item that is on sale. One item must give you credit toward the rest of your purchases, so all you have to do is buy as many of them as you possibly can after having collected copious amounts of coupons for that item.
To do that successfully, you have to track the sales trends of items at all your favorite stores. You also have to have insight into what coupons are out and where to get them. You’ll need a private office, a map of each store, a large file cabinet, a full-time baby-sitter, high speed Internet access, a personal assistant or about sixty free hours a week to plan and organize weekly shopping trips. It is also helpful to have a personal working relationship with the inventory managers at all your local grocery stores.
Coupon Clipping Services and Power Purchasing
You can’t buy coupons. You can only buy “clipping services,” which is the same thing, but that “service” is the king-pin of being a coupon queen. I bought a subscription to my Sunday paper and quickly learned that the hottest deal I could find by combining store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons from the paper was to get two bottles of vitamin B-12 for free and .30 cents off my grocery purchase. I would have to buy 167 bottles of that vitamin B-12 to get $50 discounted from my grocery purchase, which would be awesome if I could use that much vitamin B-12 within the next century.
The store I went to with my special coupons for vitamins only displayed four bottles of it on the shelf anyway, and since the special aspect of the deal was that the store was offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal, I would have only gotten .60 cents off my purchase and four free bottles of vitamins. I didn’t have the extra coupons for that extra set of vitamins. I was still as proud as a President’s mother that I scored two free bottles and .30 cents off my bill, but I still paid over $200 for my groceries with a handful of carefully selected coupons I took hours to find.
As I’ve learned, you have to buy coupons, I mean pay someone to “clip” them for you, if you’re going to have any real chance at getting those crazy deals we see coupon-ladies scoring on reality television shows. I still never figured out how they get 167 bottles of anything when the store has limited inventories. What store has more than ten bottles of anything on the shelf?
I did decide to buy clipping services. After all, I’d spent $15 on a coupon binder, started paying $7.00 a month for the Sunday paper, and spent some time and gas money on visiting the four grocery stores that are scattered strategically in opposite locations throughout my county. It was all a business investment. I was going to save tons of money each month, and those initial costs were well worth the money I was going to save. I scoured the coupon sites for the best deals on what we needed most and found a whopper of a deal on shampoo. I found an absolutely must-have coupon for shampoo that was going to work with a sale my favorite store was going to have on it.
I zipped onto Ebay.com and purchased the “clipping service” of 20 entire coupon inserts that should contain the golden nugget of a shampoo coupon I wanted. Well, it was almost the entire insert that I got. Unfortunately for me, the “service” description on Ebay.com included the fact that there would be a page missing. Guess what page it was? The seller was honest. I was a newbie. Now, I don’t even try to engage in the business of couponing. I tried; I failed.