As you may have seen on the last two seasons of TLC’s Extreme Couponing television show, couponing has become as popular as most pop sensations, almost overnight. It’s given many people a way of controlling what they spend on food, toiletries and health and beauty products. The average couponing household makes more than $60,000 annually, but that isn’t stopping them from stockpiling as many FREE items from tons of stores. You can use manufacturers coupons at nearly every grocery chain, pharmacy, toy stores, super center stores and more. Some of the places I utilize are Acme, Fry’s Food Stores, CVS, ShopRite, Walgreen’s, Target, Walmart, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and soon Kmart.
My average savings is right around 80-100% but don’t expect those figures to appear for you right out of the gate. It takes time and energy (and a ton of it) to get your coupons in order, learn to shop your stores, write your shopping list, write your stores sale list and collect the coupons. If your a newbie and are only saving around 40-60% on your total bill, don’t fret because your on your way as that is the average savings for most.
Before you begin couponing extremely you will need to ask yourself the following questions.
Do you have time and energy to coupon extremely?
Can you balance your family, home life, chores and couponing?
Do you have the initial investment plus the time needed to invest in extreme couponing?
Are you willing to go shopping at least 2 times a week?
Are you willing to go to the store before your shopping trip to scout?
Are you willing to give up your product loyalty?
Do you want to stockpile or just save on your current grocery list?
Are you willing to give up space in your home to store a stockpile?
Would you be willing to donate a ton of products every week to those in need or shelters, food banks, schools etc?
How many coupons are needed to make this worth my time & energy?
Where will you get all the coupons?
Do you have an internet connection at home?
Do you have printer access? How many computers do you have access too? (access with ability to download the coupon printer)
Some Basic Rules of Coupons
Coupons limitations and usage is printed right on each and every coupon. You can only use coupons according to their restrictions. For example: Coupons states “Limit one (1) coupon per purchase on product/quantity specified. It cannot be combined with any other coupon.
The coupon wording is very important when deciding which product to purchase. Most coupons will highlight via photograph their most expensive product, in hopes that you buy the most expensive one with your coupon; however smart coupon shoppers always choose the less expensive product and size that each manufacturer coupon allows. You don’t have to buy the product photographed, as long as the coupon doesn’t limit the size and type of product.
READ YOUR COUPON IN ITS ENTIRETY
Limit one (1) coupon is Per Purchase of products and quantities stated. This simply means that you can use one (1) coupon per item purchased, in a single transaction.
Limit one (1) coupon is Per Transaction. This simply means that you can use one (1) coupon per item purchased and that you can only purchase one (1) per transaction. This limits your purchase of the product, to one per entire shopping trip, sometimes per day too.
Limit of four (4) like coupons Per Household Per Day. This simply means that you can use four (4) coupons per transaction per day. This limits your purchase of the product, to four (4) per your entire shopping trip, per day too.
Each coupon clearly states the expiration date on it. Learn to locate and abide by this rule. Do Not use coupons that are expired even if they scan. Instead mail your expired coupons to military families who reside in foreign countries, because they can use expired coupons up to 6 months past the expiration date. I send my coupons on a bi-monthly basis and usually spend $5-9 on each envelope, depending on how many coupons I didn’t use.
Most stores will allow you to use one (1) store coupon plus (+) one (1) manufacturers coupon on one (1) product, but please check with your stores guidelines because every store differs.
Double coupons are rare. Luckily Krogers Fry’s Food Stores raise the value of every coupon up to $1. for the moment. Many deals are harder without doubles but couponing is still worth it. Check your stores coupon policy. Even when stores do double coupons there are limits – for example a certain total number will double a day, only a few, or one, like coupon will double a day, and only certain values will double. Unlimited doubling is a fantasy not a reality. Learn what your store does and work within those limits.
Check the clearance areas! Since it is perfectly legal for you to use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance, don’t forget to maximize your savings on these products, but always check the expiration date on the products too.
Sale, Auction, Transfer, copying, printing, or alteration of coupons is illegal. Do not do it! There are many ways to obtain multiples of coupons in legal ways like buying multiple newspapers or asking friends, relatives and community members.
So now that your a little more familiar with the practice of Extreme Coupon(ing)
Take your time to learn a perfect strategy by beginning with one (1) store and only a few coupons, building up from there. You should first learn how to create a shopping list and complete trips at your local grocery store. Once you feel you have mastered that store move on to new stores. Each chain has different rules and systems, so learn one before moving on to the next store. Once you are comfortable at your grocery stores then move on to learning a drug store (CVS, Walgreen’s, etc). Drug stores offer amazing deals but are very complicated to learn. Only approach those after you get settled into couponing and have mastered the grocery chains.
Because products tend to have a 3 month sale period, sales will all come and go. You don’t want to try to hit them all because each sale isn’t always the best price. You will learn your rock bottom price after doing this a while. If you miss a deal, don’t beat yourself up – a new one is just around the corner. Make sure you balance family time with couponing, as it can easily consume all of your time if you don’t balance it or plan properly.
This is a very important point= Just because you have a coupon doesn’t make it a deal! A common pitfall to new couponers is buying things because you have a coupon. If you won’t use it and its not free then don’t buy it. You will just be spending unnecessarily, if you spend money on something you don’t need or want.
Be respectful! Remember that cashiers and other shoppers are human beings. Be respectful and polite in your shopping and couponing. Try not to empty a shelf just because you can. Be courteous to your cashier – most are just trying to do the right thing and follow the rules. They don’t want to get in trouble. If they don’t know all the rules then politely help to educate them. A smile and common courtesy goes a long way in couponing.
Be patient with yourself and have fun!! If you expect too much of yourself right off the bat you will get frustrated and quit. Keep trying, keep going, and soon all this will be second nature. Remember even if you only save $5, that’s still $5 more than last week!
These basics should be enough to get you started. When your ready to begin couponing extremely, click on the links in this blog under the Coupon Extremely tab.
[With so much information on the web about Extreme Couponing, I borrowed some of this from various sites and thank each and everyone of you for making it easy to learn how to coupon (DISCLAIMER)]