Did you catch TLC’s show “Extreme Couponing“? I did and I was kind of blown away and frightened at the same time. I had mixed feelings to say the least. Part of me felt stupid for not looking for coupons on products that I buy regularly, and not stocking up when I see a good deal. I suppose, a part of me has dismissed that way of shopping because I don’t like the clutter. I’ve always lived in relatively small spaces before and so traditionally I would argue that I didn’t have the room. That’s not exactly the case today. While my townhouse is a bit small, there’s lots of space that I don’t utilize well.
In a nutshell, what these people do is wait for a really good sale and then if possible stack coupons to end up getting their products at an extremely low price. Then they stock up on those products.
Extreme anything is not good, for obvious reasons, but what about reasonable coupon clipping? I decided to give it a try this past week and see how it went.
The first thing I noticed is that it takes a long time and a little bit of getting used to. On Saturday, most of my day was devoted to finding/printing coupons of products I use and comparing it to weekly ads and then planning a list. This was rather hard to wrangle, but I succeeded and I ended up saving $85 on $253, for a grand total of $168. I came home with lots of things that I eat and use and nothing that would be wasted. Most experienced couponers would scoff at the price, but I consider it a success!
The next day I got two Sunday newspapers and went through looking at weekly ads and clipping coupons. This took a rather long time and made a pretty big mess. So much of it is planning and looking at weekly ads and fishing for in-store coupons as well. I now have a pretty good game plan for three more trips this week (Safeway, Target, and Walgreens). After this trip, I should be pretty well stocked. For example, I’ll be coming home with six sticks of Secret deodorant for roughly $10. That should last me at least six more months, probably 10. There are plenty of extreme couponers that never pay for deodorant, but I’m not that extreme and I’m brand and kind loyal. I’m also going to be getting six packs of Reach floss for free (there’s a $1 off Reach floss and they are now on sale at Target and Walmart for .97). Also, because of a promotion at Safeway (not even coupons), I’m going to get five Lunchable fun packs (which I love to eat, because I’m like a child) for $.50 each.
I love a reasonable bargain.
So overall, I’m kind of liking this. I can see how it can get out of hand, but thankfully I don’t have enough time for that. I do believe, however, that it’s probably pretty ridiculous to pay full price for something that you use all the time when there are so many deals.
So are you interested in starting a little coupon clipping? Here’s what I found to get you started.
1. Check out these websites to get an idea of the deals. Most of the time, they do the work for you.
- Krazy Coupon Lady (Provides good information and a great introduction to the coupon lifestyle)
- Totally Target
- Hooked On Bargains
2. See if your grocery store has in-store coupons.
- Safeway is awesome. They let you add coupons to your Safeway loyalty card. It’s all automatic and you don’t have to print anything out. Love this! It’s very easy to do.
- Target offers a lot of coupons that you can print out. The great thing about their coupons is that you can stack the in-store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon. For example, I have a Target in-store coupon for $1 off GE lighbulbs and a $1 off manufacturer coupon. That’s $2 off.
3. Look at the weekly ads for the stores you shop at.
- This may seem like a no-brainer, but I don’t do it terribly often. I was always a “let’s hope something like what I want is marked down” kind of gal. Looking at the weekly ads can jump start a plan and a good list. Combine that ad with coupons found on Coupons.com, SmartSource, or in-store coupons and you’re going to save quite a bit.
- You can see all the weekly ads online at the merchant’s website. Don’t worry about finding it in the mail or picking it up in the store. Just look for the Weekly Ad button on the website.
- Compare across stores. I probably have the biggest issue with this fact. Going to multiple stores sounds hard and unnecessary, and in most cases I’d much rather pay the difference for the convenience of only going to one store. However, since I’ve made such a careful plan and list, each trip should be short and to the point and worth what I walk away with. I’m going to try this out and see what happens. My suggestion is to focus on two stores and compare prices. That seems reasonable.
- Check out the websites I listed above (like KCL), they take all the information out of the weekly ads at Target, Safeway, and Walgreens and list which coupons you can use on the deal. That makes it super easy!
4. You can do almost everything online.
- If you’re just looking to get started, know that you can do almost everything online. You can look at the weekly ads online at your grocer’s website or at coupon websites like KCL. You can print coupons from online places. You probably don’t need to go out of your way to get a Sunday paper. I found that at least three quarters of the coupons I have, I was able to print from online places like Coupons.com, SmartSource, or in-store sites. You may want to pick up a Sunday newspaper on particular days for the Proctor & Gamble insert. Those aren’t weekly, and you can learn on P&G’s website when it will be in your newspaper. For example, the next one is scheduled for 1/16. If you use a lot of P&G products, and chances are that you do, that might be a good week to pick it up.
Here’s how to get free floss!
- Target and Walmart have Reach floss on sale for $0.97 cents.
- Use $1 off Reach floss found on Coupons.com
- Since the coupon is worth more than the price, they will have to adjust it, which is in their coupon policy and they will do.