If you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably at least heard about the new show on TV, Extreme Couponing. Yes, I do know a few people who can buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for $20 or less. Having a baby that needs formula and diapers, I’m not going to be one of those people for a long time. But, I do regularly save between $60 and $100 on my shopping trip. Here’s how:
1. Get organized.
I learned very quickly that stuffing coupons into my tiny little coupon book wasn’t going to cut it. I took a hint from a fellow mom and got a 3-ring binder and some sheet protectors. (I’m actually going a step further and purchasing baseball card sheets to make it even easier on me.) Keeping your coupons in a book makes it easier to find when you need to match up on sales as well as reduces the clutter on your kitchen table.
2. Make a list.
I’m really part OCD, so lists work great for me. Before you start clipping, make a list of the items and brands in your house. This will help you know what to search for online and in the papers.
3. Register online.
You have your list, now go online to each brand’s website and register, and do the same for the stores you shop. Many sites will send you email only coupons for printing while others require you to login to their website first. Regardless, you get extra savings that only cost you a few keystrokes and some space in your inbox.
5. Start clipping.
Look for the coupons in the Sunday papers. My local paper has a special deal for coupon clippers to have up to 5 copies of the Sunday paper delivered directly to your home. Not only do I save on the newsstand price, but I save the time and gas it would normally take to drive to the nearest newsstand each Sunday.
6. Make a match.
Some stores will accept more than one coupon per item, usually their coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon. Others go a step further and accept a competitor’s coupon on top of that one. So when you are organizing, put like coupons together.
7. Look out for those sales.
When the circulars come out, look for sales, especially those buy one get one free items. Just last week, I had saved four coupons that would get me $1 off 2 boxes of some snack bars my sweetie likes. A local store had a deal that was buy one, get one free on those same bars. I went home with 8 boxes of them costing me no more than $0.40 per box. That’s a pretty big savings.
8. Get only what you know you will use.
That is probably my biggest pet peeve of the couponing show. These families had stockpiled so much of their goods, they had to build places to put them. One family even said their son had 1400 rolls of toilet paper stored under his bed. Another said they could live off everything they had for three years. Some people get caught up in the thrill of buying items. But really, who needs 97 bags of croutons? Clearing off the shelves keeps others from getting the same deals, and spending money for items you don’t need doesn’t add to your savings.
9. Swap and share your coupons.
Before I became a mom, I had never clipped a coupon. But once the reality of the high costs of formula, food and diapers became clear, I pounced on them. Probably the best move I ever made was to swap coupons with another mom who uses different formula and brand of diapers from me. I do this with other moms for other items, sharing info on Facebook and posting requests as needed. Just last week, my friends were able to send me enough $5 off coupons for my son’s formula that I was able to combine with a local store’s $6 off for 2 cans to stockpile formula for probably 3 months, saving me $8 off the normal $25 I would have spent per canister.
For some, couponing is a sport. I see the challenge in trying to get the best deals, but I don’t let it consume so much of my time that it takes away from having fun and enjoying evenings at home. I’m just happy to save enough on groceries to keep my truck’s gas tank full.