Friday, April 8, 2011

Extreme Couponing!

In case you haven't heard, there's a new reality series on TLC called Extreme Couponing.  Even if I hadn't heard about it for myself, I would have certainly found out about it from the handful or so of people who have recently said to me, "Have you heard about that new couponing show on TLC?  I thought of you!"


Here's the thing.  I watched the original one-time show about this when it was on a while back and enjoyed getting to see one of my fave couponers, Joanie (aka The Krazy Coupon Lady), in action.  Then I heard it was so popular that it was going to be turned into a regular series!  Couponers of the world, rejoice!  Right?  Maybe, but maybe not.

See, what people are forgetting is that the show is highlighting EXTREME examples.  One of the shoppers on Wednesday night's show got about $1100 worth of retail product for under $44 out of pocket!  Certainly amazing, but even the most hard-core couponer isn't going to go make a haul of that magnitude every time they shop!

I'd say that, at best, I am a novice couponer.  I have a decent grasp on what I'm doing, but I'm not going to make headlines by any stretch of the imagination!  Here's how I roll:

1.  Do you use a coupon binder?
Yes!  I love my coupon binder and when I accidentally left it in my Accord after I wrecked it and had to be without it for a was traumatizing. 

My binder allows me to have all my coupons organized and in one place so that I know I'll be ready if I see an unexpected deal.  I also use individual envelopes labelled by store to pull out the coupons I plan on using for that particular shopping trip.  I write my shopping list on a big Post-It and stick to to that store's envelope of coupons.

2.  Do you seriously spend HOURS clipping and organizing coupons?
Regularly, no.  Sometimes, yes.  For example, when I had to purge out all the expired coupons after I finally got my binder back and then clip and organize a month's worth of collected coupons....yup.  That took some time.  Usually though, it takes me only about an hour or so each week to clip, organize, and write up my shopping lists.

3.  Where do you shop to find the best deals?
I'm not fortunate enough to live in an area of the country with the best store options for couponers.  If you have a Kroger, Safeway, or Albertsons, they are GOLD MINES when it comes to coupons.  They will double and even triple your coupons and it's those stores where you tend to see these extreme couponers shopping on TV.  In fact, my local Piggly Wiggly won't accept Internet coupons above a total of $2.00!!  So, I find my best coupon-friendly stores in my area to be Walgreens and Target.  Both allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon and use both on top of a sale.  Walgreens has a strict policy when it comes to how many total coupons you can use and also how you can use your Register Rewards so be sure to check the store's policy on the website before you jump in.  I've made some serious hauls at both these stores though!

4.  Do you have a stockpile?
Yes.  Mine looks nothing like the mini-mart sized stockpiles of the professionals on TV, but a good couponer must stockpile to a certain extent!  When I can get something for free or dang close to it, I stock up!  I have a bathroom stockpile that consists of soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors (LOTS of razors!), shaving cream, diapers, and my hair products. 

I also have a pantry stockpile of canned soup, boxed stuffing, pasta, pasta sauce, canned pumpkin, juice boxes, cereal, oatmeal, macaroni & cheese, etc. 

It's not a ton, but it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about running out of deodorant and having to pay $3.50 to buy some!  That's the whole point of stockpiling.  And just for the record, my stockpiles are looking pretty bare right now since I've been out of the game for over a month! 

5.  So, where do you get all these coupons?
I get my coupons from the Sunday paper and the Internet.  I get one paper delivered to my door and then I try to collect extra copies of the coupon inserts from folks at work who don't want them.  I follow a bunch of coupon blogs in my Google Reader and only read the posts that contain coupon info that pertains to me.  For example, if I see a post from The Krazy Coupon Lady about a deal on razors at CVS, I don't even bother reading it.  No CVS around here for me! always has a great number of store coupons on the website.  Also, I keep my ears perked up for free product offers on Facebook or on company websites.  More often then not, a free sample of something also comes with a coupon!  TIP:  Create a ghost email account just for getting coupons and freebies!  That way, your Inbox doesn't get overrun with junk mail!

So, there are a few tips from a very novice couponer.  I've listed my favorite sites below if you want to get started on learning how to get started for yourself!

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