Extreme Couponing in the Real World
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Extreme Couponing in the Real World

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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While it is amazing to watch extreme couponers get $2,000 worth of groceries for less than $100, the reality is that for most of us, all of the techniques of extreme couponing just can’t be sustained. Spending five or six hours a day working on coupons or turning your house into a small supermarket just isn’t practical for most of use in the long term.

Plus as recently come to light, some of the people who practice extreme couponing can only get the extreme savings that they do by practicing coupon fraud.

How then can you get the benefits of extreme couponing without all of the drawbacks? Taking things step by step is much better in the long run. You can decide how much you can do and are willing to do along the way when you break things down into steps.

Here are some practical tips for how to do extreme couponing in the real world.

Start with a Reasonable Goal

Using coupons and matching them to sales does save money. Don’t give up. Start with a small goal, such as saving 10-15 percent at first. Start with using coupons on the things that you buy anyway.

Increase Your Savings

As you gain experience with using coupons, start paying attention to the store sales flyers. See what items are listed on the front and the back pages. These are known as the loss leaders, heavily discounted groceries that are meant to get you into the store. Check your coupons and see if you have any coupons for these loss leader products, you’ll automatically increase your grocery savings to 20-30 percent. Doing rebates and rewards in addition to coupons and sales can gain you another 5 percent in savings.

Start Stockpiling

The next step to Extreme Couponing is to build up a reasonable stockpile of items when you match coupons, sales, rebates and rewards. As you start getting things for free or at a rock bottom price, buy enough to last you until the next sale. This doesn’t mean that you will need a storage facility for your groceries, but having a pantry and a freezer will give you an area to stock certain items.

Start with items that don’t expire, such as paper towels, until you learn how often you go through other grocery items that have expiration dates.

In order to stockpile, you’ll need multiple copies of the same coupon. Decide how far you are willing to go to get extras, from asking friends for coupons to buying them from clipping services.

By stockpiling, you’ll never have to pay full price for most of your groceries, with maybe the exception of fresh produce and dairy items. This step will increase your grocery savings to 50 percent or more.

Keep it Going

As you get used to using coupons and learn all of the tricks, it will soon become apparent how much time, effort and money to invest in extreme couponing. In the beginning, many people find themselves obsessed with getting deals, but it is much better to find a place where you can fit it into your life and save some money without going to the extreme.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.