Extreme Couponing

Extreme Couponing All Stars

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 10:12 am
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Have you heard about the show called “Extreme Couponing All Stars”?  It is a brand new show that is on the TLC channel.  If you loved the show “Extreme Couponing”, then you won’t want to miss this!  It combines everything you liked to watch in the original show with a brand new, exciting, shopping challenge that pits one Extreme Couponing All Star against another one.  Who will win?

The first episode of “Extreme Couponing All Stars” just aired a few weeks ago in December of 2011.  More shows are on the way, and you can watch many of the clips from the TLC website that talks about the show.  Each episode features a challenge that puts one extreme couponer against another one, in a shopping challenge.  Whichever one ends up having the highest percentage of savings at the end of their shopping trip wins that round.

The show will start off with a total of twelve couponers.  Elimination rounds will eventually whittle down this group to the three contestants who had the all- around top percentage of savings from their shopping challenges.  Those three will advance to the finals.

There are nine rules that must be followed for the elimination rounds.  Extreme couponers must spend at least $500 retail (before their bonus card or any in store savings is applied).  They have to have purchased at least 15 different items, (and they cannot have more than 50%  of their total retail purchase come from one item).  They cannot preorder more than three different items before the shopping trip begins.

Contestants are not allowed to use cash value catalinas in the contest.  They are allowed to do one prescription transfer, but it has to be done during the allotted shopping time.  They only get thirty minutes to complete their shopping (before heading to the registers).

The extreme couponers cannot pay full price for anything they purchased on their shopping challenge.  Not even one thing!  They also are limited to bringing only one person to the store with them.  That person can only help by being the “stand in” for any additional transactions the store policy requires.  Each extreme couponer will be scored on a 100 point scale.  The rules for the final round get a bit stricter, which will add to the overall tension of the episode.

As far as I can tell, it appears that the person who wins the final shopping challenge will basically get “bragging rights”.  They will be able to say that they are officially the best of the Extreme Couponing All Stars.

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Coupon Addiction: A Good Thing!

Posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 at 6:12 am
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When I think of addictions the first things that come to mind are smoking, drugs, spending beyond your budget, etc.  These all sound like terrible things that have damaged the lives of countless people but what about the healthy addictions?  People who just have to get in their morning run,  the woman who is totally addicted to fresh veggies (me) and the teenager who did a community service project through his school and now he can’t get enough.  These addictions can be part of a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.  That is how I view my addiction to couponing.

Of course, just like anything else, there always comes a point where you can go overboard.  Almost every woman in the world is addicted to chocolate but you don’t see us eating 12lbs of chocolate a day.  Yes, some coupon addicts can go overboard.  I find that the biggest problem with extreme couponers is that they will purchase items that they will never use just because it is a bargain.  I also find that couponers will sometimes buy WAY too much of a product just because it is a great deal.  In this instance they are not even saving money.   That product will most likely go bad on their shelves and that is like throwing away money.

I do not hoard thousands of dollars worth of product in my home and hide cans of soup in my husbands sock drawer but I find saving money to be absolutely fulfilling.  I do my best to get great deals on things my family will absolutely use in the next few months.  If I happen to find a free deal on something we will not use I get it anyway and donate it to the local homeless shelter.  Saving money this way allows me to give back as well as save money for my family. It is an addiction that I am very proud of.

While you are out there being the rock star of savings, make sure to think of the good you can do with your money saving talents.  Weather it is in your home or in your community make your addiction, A Good Thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Much Time Should You Spend on Extreme Couponing?

Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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Extreme couponing savings can be amazing. Imagine feeding your family and maybe even the community around you for less than a hundred dollars a month! Some extreme couponers can do even better than that with their coupon clipping.

It seems pretty easy to get that great grocery savings until you realize that many extreme couponing can spend up to six to eight hours a day on their grocery lists, from scouting for coupons and deals, to matching coupons to sales, to making multiple shopping trips to the store, not only to shop but also to grab even more coupons and plan out their shopping strategy.

This time is what it takes to get that 95-98 percent off savings. And even with all of that, they may not be saving that amount every week. So how much time should you spend on extreme couponing? Of course this depends on your situation, the number of people that you have to feed, and how much time you actually have to dedicate to extreme couponing.

A good rule of thumb is to figure out the per hour “salary” you are getting from extreme couponing. For example, if you spend five hours a day, five days a week, that is 25 hours of work that you have put in for extreme couponing. For simplicity, let us say that if you worked for an employer, you might make a salary of $10 an hour (use your real salary if you do work). That means in 25 hours, you could make $250. Now, look at your coupon savings. Did you save at least that amount of money by clipping coupons to the extreme? Usually the answer is yes, but you’ll have to figure it out on your own.

If you just don’t have that much time or the inclination to devote so much focus to using coupons and calculating deals, you can still get plenty of savings. The way to do this is to go extreme couponing just in one or two stores. This way, you can generally spend only about 30-60 minutes per week on your extreme couponing, but still wind up with plenty of savings, many items for free, and a nice stockpile. You may never approach having a wall of diapers, but you will still be racking up the discounts.

You can even reduce this time even more, if you rely on others to do the match ups for you and tell you where to get the coupons that you need. At freecoupons.com, we do just that, with several popular stores. Then all you need to do is print your coupons or collect the Sunday inserts that you need to do the deals.

Just remember that everyone’s situation and time available for extreme couponing is different. It isn’t an all or nothing problem, so don’t give up and find out what works best for you.

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Extreme Couponing in a Small Town

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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While it is wonderful that Extreme Couponers can get thousands of dollars of groceries for less than $100, things can be a little different when you don’t live in a city or suburb. Extreme couponing in a small town requires different strategies than does using coupons the average way.

Why Are Small Towns Different When It Comes to Grocery Savings?

There are a few reasons why extreme couponing in a small town can be different from shopping in a more populated area:

The only place in town

There is less competition, so stores don’t have to worry as much about having rock bottom sales and prices. They know that unless you want to drive out of your way, you will pay the prices that they set within reason.

Coupon policy changes trickle down

Recent changes in store coupon policies, especially price matching, can put those in a small town at a disadvantage. Many price matching policies have changed to limit the distance of comparison stores, so there may not be a store within your range that you can price match against.

Low price stores

Box stores, such as Walmart and Target, known for coupon match ups and low prices may not be available in a small town. The same goes for drugstores. This is where many extreme couponers get all of their freebies.

Lack of inventory

Small town stores generally experience issues with limited inventory. They have smaller shelf space and they smaller quantities. There is often a lack of variety of stock as well. Clearing the shelves at a small town store may consist of taking all six cans of soup.

How Can You Practice Extreme Couponing in a Small Town?

It might take a little more work, at first, to do extreme couponing in a more rural area, but you’ll quickly learn which strategies work best for you. Here are some of the proven tips that will get you your grocery savings.

When to shop

You’ll have to pick the best time to shop to make sure that the products that you need for your coupons are available. Go as early as you can the day the sale starts. You can also time your shopping for when the supply truck comes in (although they have a tendency to be late) and on the very last day of the sale (in case the store was holding back some inventory).

Submit a special order

If you know that you will be stocking up on a particular item, ask the manager to put in a special order for you that can be held back in the stock room. I’ve done this a couple of times, such as when whole chicken was on sale and I needed four of them. The store makes the extra sale, you are guaranteed to get the product, and other shoppers won’t face an empty shelf. Everyone wins!

Ask if the store will price match

Sometimes small town stores will be competitive with the pricing at larger more urban stores if you just ask. Bring in a flyer to prove the pricing and ask to speak to the manager. Be discreet, as you will be more likely to be successful if the store doesn’t feel like they have to give everyone that lower price.
Extreme couponing in a small town is not impossible. In fact, you may wind up being something of a local celebrity when others notice how much you can save.



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Are You Buying What You Really Want?

Posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 at 8:12 am
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One of the problems with Extreme Couponing is the fact that it is easy to get a lot of things that you might not normally buy. In one way, this is a really good thing. With coupons, you can pick up products for free that you once might have wanted to have but didn’t think were an absolute necessity, you can try and like new products that you might not otherwise have been exposed to, and you can generously donate extra items to someone who could make good use of them.
In another way (and you knew this was coming), extreme couponing could lead you to buying things that you don’t really want or need. You may wind up spending more money in the long run, if not on the products themselves, then on the storage space needed for items that are just sitting on the shelves.
Tried and True Products
It is easy to contemplate stocking up on tried and true products that your family would consume anyway, canned soup or a favorite brand of tuna comes to mind. But be wary of stocking up on items that you have never tried. If you get something for 70 percent off but don’t like it, that means that you still paid 30 percent to throw or give it away.
The determination to get a great deal can be addicting even when it isn’t practical. For some real examples, look to the Extreme Couponing show where shoppers have stocked entire walls with mustard they don’t like or diapers when they don’t have any babies.
The Donation Problem
Many extreme deals come from combing high value coupons with great sales. The problem is that manufacturers are most generous with their discounts on new products, obscure products and pre-packaged convenience products.
While food pantries may be able to use some of these products, you may find that many of the best extreme couponing finds, such as single candy bars or microwave popcorn may not be on the most wanted list for food pantries.
Avoiding the Pitfall
If you want to avoiding buying things that you really don’t want or use, you may have to take a few steps.
First, make your grocery list and check it twice or maybe trice. Cross out anything you know your family doesn’t want or need. Reduce the number of multiple on new products. If you really like the product, try it and go back later in the week. If the shelves are cleared from other extreme couponers, get rain checks, or just wait for the next sale. It will come along, if not at the original store than at a different one. Remember those manufactures are trying to get people to try that product and are offering incentives across many stores.
If you really have trouble resisting an extreme couponing deal, enlist a friend of family member to keep you in check and act as a sounding board when you aren’t sure if you are buying what you really want.

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Extreme Couponing Crackdown

Posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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Is there a backlash to “Extreme Couponing” and if so, how will it affect the price you pay for groceries?

Extreme Couponing is the practice of using as many coupons as you can to get your groceries for free or nearly free. From dumpster diving for coupons to stockpiling years worth of supplies, the goal of an extreme couponer is to never pay money for groceries ever again.

While getting hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of free food using grocery coupons can be exciting, there are a few people that aren’t so thrilled with the way this practice works, namely the owners and managers of the stores themselves. That is because smart shoppers can take things a little too far by clearing the shelves and making it harder for markets to sell to the people who are willing to pay full price.

If you do use coupons, you may have already seen changes lately that are affecting how much you can save. Some stores are cracking down on extreme couponers by changing their coupon policy. Rite Aid, Target and Publix are three places that have recently limited coupon use or have placed additional restrictions on coupons.

Another change you may have noticed is in your coupons themselves. Many manufacturer coupons specifically say, “Do Not Double,” and there is talk that the cents or dollar off value of coupons will be coming down. So that $0.75 off coupon for toothpaste you usually expect may now be only a $0.50 off coupon for the same product.

This all comes at a time when the “Great Recession” has made it harder for families to afford the new higher cost of feeding everyone. Coupons, if you are willing to do the work, can be a way to offset the rise in food prices.

To cope with all of this backlash, shoppers will have to be prepared by carrying a copy of a store’s coupon policy and including a combination of other grocery saving strategies to bring down the bill. For example, buying in bulk and buying generic products, growing your own food and cooking from scratch are all ways to spend less money.

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Extreme Couponing Fatigue

Posted on Saturday, July 16th, 2011 at 8:12 am
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Well, it is starting to happen. People who were once excited about extreme couponing are now tired of, well, getting the best deals on groceries. Why? They are suffering from too much too soon and have found themselves actually getting sick of coupons! Can you image?

What is Extreme Couponing Fatigue?

You know that you are in the middle of Extreme Couponing fatigue when the thought of putting together another store match up list or even look at another grocery coupon fills you with dread. When you stay up at night just thinking about having to get to the store before every other extreme couponer clears the shelves before you get there, you may be ready to throw in the towel.

If you are just tired of using coupons and tracking the deals, you are not alone. But don’t give up, there are ways to make it all better.

Why Does Extreme Couponing Fatigue Happen?

There are several reasons why you can come down with extreme couponing fatigue.

  • You may have been trying to keep up with the folks on the TLC show, getting discouraged when you can’t get the same $1,000 worth of groceries for less than $1 that they do. (There are lots of secrets that they don’t show you on television, from months of planning for one trip, to stores that wave normal coupon policies just for the show, to actual coupon fraud.) The more realistic coupon trips that they should show just aren’t as interesting for television.
  • You may have jumped in with both feet and tried to work all of the deals all of the time without giving yourself time to be selective with products and the amount of effort you are willing or able to give.
  • You may realize that some of the seeming requirements of extreme couponing, such as dumpster diving and hoarding just aren’t who you are or want to be.

 

How Can You Avoid Extreme Couponing Fatigue

Most people suffering from extreme couponing fatigue will suddenly go cold turkey and not want to coupon or even shop for a long time. To avoid having this happen to you (or if you feel it already happening) take the following steps to keep you sane and saving money.

 

  • Choose where to save. Forget about buying things for free just because you can or clipping every coupon in sight. Focus on the products and brands that you would buy anyway and only those.
  • Let someone else do most of the work for you. Instead of spending hours or days preparing for a grocery shopping trip, take advantage of the many match up deals that are posted online, such as on FreeCoupons.com. Find the store you like to shop and use the guides to make your list and print coupons or assemble Sunday insert coupons.
  • Share your shopping. Team up with a spouse, a sister, a friend or a neighbor to share in couponing. You could either coupon and shop together for grocery deals or split up the stores. Having support and someone else to keep you accountable will mean that you neither stockpile a barrel of uneaten relish nor give up on using coupons completely.
  • Select the strategies that work for you and leave the rest behind. Instead of dumpster diving for example, you could purchase two or three copies of the paper and have enough coupons to do the deals that you need, ask friends and neighbors for their extra coupons and inserts or use a coupon clipping service.

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Extreme Couponing and the Three-Month Rule

Posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 at 7:12 pm
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When it comes to extreme couponing it can be hard to know when the deals are going to happen and how to prepare for them. Most grocery stores and “box” stores follow the three-month rule. Knowing what this three-month rule is and how to take advantage of it may mean the difference between extreme couponing and just average coupon savings.

Another way that the three-month rule helps coupon clippers is by establishing guidelines for stockpiling. Knowing exactly how much to buy as well as when to buy it can help you build a healthy grocery stockpile and prevent grocery hoarding.

Here is all that you need to know in order to use those grocery coupons in the right way and stockpile just the right amount.

The three-month rule refers to the scheduled time between sales of any given items. Most stores will put an item or an item type, for example pasta sauce, on sale every three months. Knowing the schedule of sales will help you prepare for the next trip, gather your coupons and get ready.

At the same time, manufacturers also follow a three-month rule. Usually, the sales and the coupons match up easily, but sometimes they can be a few weeks off. As an extreme couponer, you’ll have have an understanding of both sets of three-month cycles, the sales cycles and the coupon cycles.

Sometimes coupons follow a holiday or seasonal cycle instead of a three-month cycle. This means that you should see a lot of baking coupons around Thanksgiving, for example. If you get plenty of new coupons each week, you will always be prepared to match them with the sales.

When your item does go on sale, stock up on it by using your coupons but purchasing only enough of the item to last you for 90 days, because you know that the next sale will happen within that time or the next set of coupons will be issued.

Having a stockpile is absolutely necessary to be an extreme couponer. You will be able to hold off buying anything that is not on sale and matched with a coupon. This way you always get your groceries for free or almost free. You are only buying those few items each week that are the rock bottom best deals.

With the three-month rule, you’ll be able to build up your stockpile gradually. Not only will this let you take advantage of all of the deals, but it will keep your grocery budget under control, since you don’t have to buy too much at once.

As your stockpile builds up, your grocery bill should be reduced more and more. Get the three-month rule under control and you will soon be an official extreme couponer.

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How to Make Extreme Couponing Easy

Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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Watching the Extreme Couponing show, you might think, “Hey, using coupons to save a lot of money is easy. I could do that!” Then you start cutting your grocery coupons and matching up the sales and find that it is taking you hours of head-scratching work.

The amount of time and energy that has to be put into extreme couponing can be overwhelming. Some of the people on that show say that they usually spend six hours a day or more finding deals, finding coupons and going shopping. Is it all worth it?

Well, before you get ready to give up, let me tell you that there are ways to make extreme couponing easy to do.

Use Your Resources

Instead of pouring over grocery store and drug store sales flyers and scouring unadvertised deals at the store, let someone else do your match ups for you. Then, all you have to do is gather your coupons and go shopping. Since store deal match ups are probably the biggest time consumer in extreme couponing, you’ll get your list done sooner and save yourself the hassle of having to calculate everything.

At FreeCoupons.com, we do weekly match ups for Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Kroger, Safeway, Walgreens, Publix and Meijer. And, we plan on adding more stores to the list!

Buy What You Need

While it is exciting to get things for free, if you don’t use something or have a cause to donate it to, don’t take the time and energy to cut coupons for it! Since we don’t own a dog, I never bother with trying to get cheap dog food, even if I could get it for free.

Take a lesson from the mustard lady on the Extreme Couponing show and don’t decorate your home with a wall of condiments that will never get eaten.

Know Your Limits

Along with not buying things you don’t need is knowing when to stop buying. For example, when I reach a stockpile of six containers of body wash, I stop buying it, even if it is a great deal. I take it off of my list and cut down the time it takes to do my couponing and grocery shopping. I concentrate on the items that I don’t have stockpiled instead.

Find a Buddy

If you have a friend who loves coupons as much as you do, use that to both of your advantage. Split up the effort. You can trade from your stockpiles or divvy up the different stores. For example, one of you can shop at CVS and the other at Walgreens, with each of you picking up twice the deals at each shop. Then you can divide the spoils.

Alternatively, one person can do all of the couponing while the other does all of the actual shopping.

Find the Balance

Fortunately, extreme couponing isn’t a matter of all or nothing. You can make it as hard or as easy as it needs to be, however it fits in your lifestyle and your family. It is important to find the balance between the time it takes and the money you can save.

Instead of saving 99 percent on your groceries, you can save 75 percent plus save your sanity while still taking advantage of coupons. Coupons can still give you super savings while being easy to use.

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Extreme Couponing and Patience

Posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 at 6:12 am
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There are many things to learn about extreme couponing, and one of them has to do with patience. Getting the extreme savings from clipping coupons and doing deals requires a lot of organization and the ability to know exactly when you can get that best deal. Otherwise, you may just waste your hottest coupons.

Patience in Clipping

It is hard to be patient when you find out about a deal you can get with coupons, especially if you get some free coupons. You just want to run our right away and grab up the savings. But wait! In the long run this can hurt you.

Sometimes if you rush ahead, you may miss some coupons. Keep all of your coupons organized. You can file them by insert or type of coupon (such as a printable coupon) or clip them all and sort them by item in a coupon binder. Taking the time to know what you have and where it is located will help you a lot when you are ready to go extreme couponing.

Patience in Planning

Extreme couponing relies on making lists of items and matching those items with coupons. Be patient when you put your list together. Include enough information about the deal, such as the sale price, the coupons you will be using and the final price. This will help you in the event that there is a problem in your grocery shopping, such as items that ring up at the wrong price or coupons that didn’t scan.

What happens if you have a set of grocery coupons that require you to make multiple purchases of different items in the same transaction, but some of the items are out of stock? If you were patient enough to make your list detailed, you can recalculate the deals as needed.

Patience in Using Coupons

When couponers first start clipping coupons and matching them with sales to get deals, they have a tendency to jump on a purchase the first time that they can make a match. I used to do this all of the time. Sometimes, however, it is better not to use a coupon. Why? Well, because you can often hold on to that coupon and get an even better deal. If you use the coupon too early, you might not get the best price.

Remember that there is no requirement to use a coupon right away. You, of course, have to be aware of coupon expiration dates, but don’t use a coupon unless you know it is the best deal that you are going to get. Having a price book will help you figure that out.

Extreme couponing can be very exciting, especially when you see people getting hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for just a few pennies. But if can hold back a bit and practice patience, you will wind up with the best deals possible.

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