What Is Extreme Couponing? How Can I Get Started?

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Extreme couponing. It’s the new catch phrase that’s hitting the television market like MAD. I was watching Dr. Phil on Oprah’s OWN channel and he had an entire episode dedicated to people who are saving big while cutting coupons. Some of their tips were a bit severe, but I took what I wanted to from the episode and applied it to my own life.

I actually enjoy cutting coupons and finding a good deal, so I started to put more effort into it. I’ve been tracking some of my purchases here.

Just in case you haven’t heard about extreme couponing, I thought I’d give you a quick rundown!! If you want to take this journey with me, start saving your inserts from your Sunday paper. You need them ALL.

WHAT IS EXTREME COUPONING?

To REALLY get into extreme couponing, you have to be willing to store items for a rainy day. You don’t buy shampoo when you NEED shampoo. You buy it when it’s on sale and then you stock up. That’s the point. In theory, if you buy shampoo with a coupon, you are doing a good thing. BUT if you buy shampoo with a coupon during a week when it’s buy 1 get 1 free — you are REALLY saving.

Timing is everything. You have to be patient and you have to work a little at getting organized.

extreme couponing binder

extreme couponing binder

EXTREME COUPONING ORGANIZATION:

Yesterday I went to Staples and purchased one of their “HUGE” binders. They are three times the size of a regular binder. I also picked up a pair of small scissors, a coupon plastic envelope, a hole puncher, a pad and a black marker. Staples’ HUGE binder has inside pockets so you can keep everything together.

EXTREME COUPONING TIME COMMITMENT:

To really get the true benefit of extreme couponing, you have to spend a little time looking through the circulars. Truthfully, it took me about an hour to work through CVS and Target. HOWEVER, the good news is there are PLENTY of sites that will do this for you. These women DO THE CIRCULARS so you don’t have to! I know a coupon blogger who pays $75 to someone just so they can write up those posts for her. They take a LONG time. Why not use the sites and save yourself  the effort? I did it because I wanted to understand the process a bit. Moving forward, I am going to lean on coupon bloggers for the flyer breakdowns. But truth be told, I did have fun searching out my extreme couponing deals.

LETTING GO OF BRAND LOYALTY WHILE EXTREME COUPONING:

Here’s the part that my husband is NOT going to be happy with. If you truly want to be successful with extreme couponing, you have to let go of your brand loyalty. I’m not saying you can’t continue to buy your favorite coffee beans or yogurt. If you TRULY LOVE IT – then of COURSE stick with it. HOWEVER, every other product has to now be opened to sales and coupons.

So, no more staples. CVS had a sale on Wisk this week. I bought it last night during my 10PM run. I got 2 Wisk HE detergents (32 loads) for $10 but then I also incorporated 2 $1 off coupons. In the end, I paid $4 each. If you look at the green box, you can save even more by purchasing $25 worth of items. CVS will give you $10 in extra bucks that you can use during your next purchase. This is how it begins to add up. So, why not buy 4 Wisks and some paper towels (with another coupon) and then get that $10 bucks for FREE. In the end, the second set of Wisk bottles were FREE because they gave you $10 towards a future purchase.

EXTREME COUPONING TIPS:

I can be a bit manic, so extreme couponing can get dangerous for me. I might one day come home with 56 tubes of Polident just because it was on sale! So, I’m taking deep breaths and I am TRULY only buying things that we need.

EXTREME COUPONING Tip 1: Don’t purchase things JUST BECAUSE they are on sale.

  • I’m not going to start buying potato chips because I can get them for a true bargain. That would defeat the purpose because then I will be spending more money than I would have if I was just shopping like a regular consumer.

EXTREME COUPONING Tip 2: Be smart about the timing of things.

  • We didn’t particularly NEED dish soap, but CVS was having a sale on Palmolive and I got 2 for free and one for $.49 because I used the right coupons during the right time. YES – I got 3 bottles of dish soap for $.49 – all because I was careful about when I used the coupons.

EXTREME COUPONING Tip 3: Don’t clip coupons out of the flyers when you get them.

  • Instead of making yourself a HUGE piles of coupons that you have to sort through, keep the coupons in their pamphlet form and punch holes in the paper. Store everything in your binder. This way you can easily flip through your coupons and cut them out when needed. Remove pages that have items you would NEVER EVER BUY – for me that was diapers, cover up, senior citizen items etc.

EXTREME COUPONING Tip 4: Shop AROUND

Here’s the thing with extreme couponing – you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You have to be able to go to a few stores to really see results. I’m not saying I’m going to drive to another town to find a Pathmark, but I am saying that I will hit up Walgreens, CVS and Target once a week if I get a big enough bargain on an item my family uses.

Every store has sales that are meant to draw customers in with the hopes that they will purchase other items. Well, that’s for the rest of the world. Don’t get suckered into full priced items just because you happened to be walking around Stop and Shop!! Buy what’s on sale and then go home. Everything will eventually be marked down. There’s no point in wasting your money – especially in this economy.

PHEW!! How was that? Not too painful right? Do what you can and save where it’s possible. That’s all I’m saying.

Let’s save together in 2011. That’s my mission. I want to see how much I can save by the end of the year. Again, if you want to play along, start saving those coupons from the newspaper. There are also a ton of sites where you can print coupons — here’s one to get you started.  And please check my Extreme Couponing section so you can see what I buy each week from CVS.

UPDATEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

I wanted to add a few more extreme couponing tips because so many people are trying to get started.

Where Do You Get Coupons from?

I buy 4 newspapers a week in order to clip coupons. I just started to do this a few weeks ago because I wanted to take advantage of multiple deals at once. When you only get one newspaper, you are limited to just one coupon. I spend about $2.50 on each newspaper, so that’s a $10 expense. BUT WORTH IT!

I get Newsday because I found it’s the best one available by me for extreme couponing.

Other Places To Get Coupons:

  • Ask your neighbors to save them for you
  • eBay
  • Drive around on recycle day and grab them – as per Extreme Couponing Show – I wouldn’t really do this
  • Dumpster Dive – as per Extreme Couponing Show – I wouldn’t really do this
  • Write to the company and request them
  • Facebook Fan companies and wait for them to offer some
  • The INTERNET! Once a day I post links to all the hottest coupons online. Yes, I do all the hard work for you.
  • Each store has store coupons specific just to their brand. Visit each individual site OR get their flyer.
  • Mobile Coupons – stores also offer mobile coupons and sits like CellFire and ShopKick have some as well
  • There are also coupon clipping services that are available. For example, if you want 100 Vitamin Water coupons, you can BUY them online. Handling fees are required.

Are those reality shows realistic? How do they save THAT MUCH MONEY?

Is it possible? Yes, it’s possible. HOWEVER, these people are extreme. Get it! They spend 40 hours a week planning trips like that and most admit that those $1000 for $.67 trips are a once in a lifetime sort of thing. Don’t aspire for that. Are you willing to give up your entire basement for some BBQ sauce?

Also NOTICE what they are buying. Do you really want 87 jars of honey mustard? Not really! Couponing for your family should never be THAT extreme.

It also really depends on where you live!! I live in NY and you better believe that those sort of deals don’t EXIST. Sure, I can get my bill down to HALF – and when I do, I’m jumping up and down. But it’s an $88 dollar bill brought down to around $40. NOT $800 down to $.50!! Be realistic. Don’t get disappointed if you don’t reach their level. You aren’t spending the 40 hours a week that they are. Remember that.

How can I start stockpiling?

You just do. As you can see, my stockpile focus mainly on cleaning and beauty supplies. I really don’t do food except when the pasta coupons come out because you can always get that for free.  Here is my mini stock pile. I don’t want it to take over my life. I want to save money for my family. When I see a good deal – I go for it! I don’t compare myself to anyone. I just try as hard as I can to save for my family. This also includes my extended family. My mother always comes over and gets stuff for her and my grandmother. Spread the love if you start doing this. Everyone can use the help.

For example, last week Wisk was on sale at Stop and Shop for $3.99. I had a $2 off coupon. Well, I had 4 of them since I get 4 newspapers. I went and I got them. Did I need detergent? NO! But for $1.99 – you better believe I’m going to buy it. Did I get it for FREE or did I make money on the sale? Was it truly extreme couponing? No. But I’m still happy with my bargain.

This stockpile was accumulated over 10 months. I buy about $40-70 worth of goods a week and spend under $5 for them. Slow and steady.

Which Stores Should I Use My Coupons In?

All of them. I will go to Walmart to buy 1 deal and then run to CVS to get another. I watch all sales. You can’t go to just one place anymore. If you really want to save, you have to go to where the sale is. Luckily, I live in a town that has EVERY STORE ON THE PLANET. Seriously. We have three MEGA MALLS within a mile from each other. It’s insane. So, it’s no big deal for me to head around and shop in different places.

Don’t go crazy and drive 50 miles for a sale. You have to count GAS in all of this.

Every Week I End Up Throwing Away So Many Unused Coupons!

Me too. I only use coupons when they are paired with a sale and really make sense. I used to be so upset about throwing them out – but now I realize it’s just part of the game.

And just a heads up, I heard there are government sites that actually take EXPIRED COUPONS for soldiers! I’ve been meaning to look this up because that is SO WONDERFUL.

But I Really Want To Coupon Like The People On Extreme Couponing!!!

I can’t help you with that. All I can do is show you every day what sales I think are worth your time. I hope you won’t get discouraged because it really IS worth your time. Saving money is ALWAYS worth your time.

Click here to check out my Deals and Steals Section to get started.

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