Extreme Couponing - Part 3
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Extreme Couponing

The Hidden Dollar Costs of Extreme Couponing

Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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One of the things that they don’t tell you on the Extreme Couponing shows is that very rarely are the free groceries actually free. There are hidden costs that you can incur when you practice extreme couponing, and I am not talking just in time or effort or gas from running around to different stores.

If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of money getting your groceries for free.

Paying for Coupons

While many extreme couponers get a lot of coupons for free, the reality is that in order to get the awesome deals, you just have to pay something for coupons. Why? Because Sunday insert coupons can vary by region. Usually the coupons with the highest values are often available to regions where the sales aren’t as good, stores don’t double, or new products are being marketed heavily. This is in order to drum up sales for particular items.

What this means is that in order to match up a super coupon with a super sale and get items for free or money back on your purchases you may have to find coupons that aren’t available in your area.

Coupon clipping services charge anywhere from 2 cents to 50 cents per coupon, depending on how valuable and in demand that coupon happens to be. So, when you see someone giving a cashier a hundred coupons, they may have paid up to $50 for those coupons.

Spending only $50 in order to get $300 or $400 worth of groceries is still worth it of course, but it isn’t as free as the extreme couponing show makes it out to be.

Printing Coupons

Printing coupons can cost money in a number of ways. The cost of paper and ink can get expense, especially if you are printing multiple coupons. Most printable coupons print one at a time on a single page. You can sometimes reuse the paper, but often you will have some paper waste associated with printing coupons.

Most printable coupons also have limits on them. it is just impossible for the average person to print 50 manufacturers coupons from the Internet.

You can often only print one or two coupons of the same kind per computer. To get around this, many extreme couponers buy extra computer equipment in order to print extra coupons. This is an added expense that could be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Some people opt to once again buy printable coupons from others. Usually the cost of printable coupons is higher than insert coupons because of the expenses involved with printing them.

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How to Live on Extreme Couponing

Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
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When you watch the extreme couponing shows or here about extreme couponing trips where people get all of their groceries for free, it might make you wonder whether or not these super coupon clippers ever pay for groceries. With the goal being free, they rack up thousands of dollars worth of free coupons to feed their families.

Wouldn’t it be great to live on all the things you get with extreme couponing?

The reality is that normally, even if you are getting all of these items for free, you can’t necessarily get away with never having to pay anything for groceries. This is because of a little known fact that the extreme couponers don’t tell you on the show: most of the best bargains and coupon sales combinations happen on very processed food.

So yes, you can get hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for just a few bucks, but you may find that your freezer and pantry are filled with things such as 40 boxes of toaster pastry, 60 boxes of pop tarts, and 25 boxes of sugar-laden cereals.

But where is the milk, eggs, meat, fruit and vegetables?

While you can still get some good deals on healthier whole foods with extreme couponing (see my recent article about using catalina coupons to do this), you can’t count on doing this often or enough to supply your family with good food. So you need to apply other strategies to get the healthy food that you want.

First of all, realize that you need whole foods to maintain a healthy diet. There is just no way around this one. Let go of the goal of not paying for any groceries for a moment and make sure your budget has some money in it for unprocessed or minimally processed food.

Next, see if you can trade some of the products you get by extreme couponing for healthier items. If you know someone with a garden, for example, you might be able to trade a bunch of cleaning supplies or frozen pizza that you got for free in exchange for their abundance of garden produce. This way you both win, and it is as though you got all of that produce for free!

Another strategy is to use your extreme couponing savings to pay for a share in a CSA, community sponsored agriculture program. You basically buy a share in a farm and share all of the bounty of all that the farm produces. Sometimes this also includes dairy products and well as vegetables and fruits.

So can you live on extreme couponing? Not completely by itself, but you can get pretty close if you employ some of the strategies listed above.

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How to Get Discounted Newspaper Subscriptions

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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Extreme couponing requires a lot of coupons. Sunday newspaper inserts are one of the best sources of manufacturer coupons. The problem is that buying a newspaper at the store or even having a subscription to a newspaper can get expensive. Plus, when you want to have multiple subscriptions for multiple sets of coupons, the cost of the coupons can really add up.

While some people can get their coupons elsewhere, the reality is that for those coupon clippers who live in rural areas or cannot print coupons, getting the Sunday newspaper delivered to the door is the best option. Often, there are no coupon inserts to beg from friends and family or ability to dumpster dive for coupons. So, getting discounted newspaper subscriptions is important in order to get the grocery coupons that come in it.

There are a couple of ways to save money on newspaper subscriptions.

Go to the Source

Sometimes the best way to get a discount on a newspaper subscriptions is to go directly to the newspaper itself. Call up the subscription department and tell them that you want a discount. Signing up for multiple weeks delivery or multiple copies of the paper gives you more leverage for negotiating a deal. Remember that many newspaper subscription departments are willing to mail newspapers, so you can get your coupons through the if delivery is not an option.

New customers are often given good deals, so sign up under the name of another member of your family or cancel your current subscription and order a new one.

Find a Discounted Newspaper Distributor

The next thing to try is to check the subscription rates of a discounted newspaper distributors. These suppliers get deals on subscriptions and then pass them on to you. You may not get as good a deal as you would going to the source, but you just might find a gem of a promotion.

Discounted Newspapers is one such source of discounts, and they often have coupon codes available.

Check the Competition

Most local papers charge less for newspaper subscriptions, even Sunday only programs, so check newspapers with a smaller distribution. Usually the coupons are the same as they are in the larger papers. You can always check this wherever you normally purchase papers or simply call them up and ask if they offer coupons in their papers.

This can also be a great way of getting multiple copies of coupons. Subscribe to multiple papers each under a new customer contract, and you may just reduce your cost by 50 to 75 percent.

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Extreme Couponing and Technology

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011 at 8:12 am
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You might think that extreme couponing requires dumpster diving into recycling bins for coupons, begging coupons from your neighbors and some of the other activities that were seen last night on TLC’s Extreme Couponing show. While those are all ways to get coupons in bulk, there may be a smarter solution to clipping coupons.

Technology today has made it easier to find and use grocery coupons to save on food and other products. From pizza coupons to deals on school supplies, you can now take advantage of mobile coupons and other technology to practice extreme couponing.

Mobile Coupons

Mobile apps are now available for your smartphone. These apps allow you to download coupons. This means that you no longer have to cut coupons or use printable coupons in some cases. It will save you time and money.

Mobile or virtual coupons come in one of two forms currently. You can download and store coupons on your smart phone or mobile device. When you get to the checkout, simply show your coupons on your smartphone. The coupons can be scanned and used immediately.

Another way to get coupons that are easy to use is to download them to your store bonus or savings card. Kroger and other grocery stores make this easy. You simply use your computer or smartphone to identify the coupons you want and select them to be loaded to your card. The next time that you are grocery shopping, the coupons will automatically be activated when your card is scanned.

Internet Coupon Services

Just as you might order shoes online, you can also order coupons. There are a number of coupon clipping services that will do all of the coupon cutting for you, saving you time and the money of buying multiple coupon inserts. You can do your coupon match ups and then order only those coupons that you need. This works well for extreme couponing, when you often need multiples of the same coupon in order to get the deals.

You also have the option with these services of buying whole sheets of coupons that are not already clipped. These Sunday coupon inserts will cost less when you buy them in bulk, and you won’t have to spend six hours a day finding coupons as many of the people in the Extreme Couponing show do.

So use technology to your advantage and make it part of your money saving strategy. You’ll score some amazing deals but never be referred to by some of the negative stereotypes associated with using coupons, such as that crazy coupon lady or coupon hoarder.

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Extreme Couponing: The Secret is Using Catalina Coupons

Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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How is it that we clip and clip our coupons and never approach getting $600 worth of groceries for less than $3 like the ladies on the Extreme Couponing show do? It is simple. They have a secret weapon. If you notice closely, those extreme couponing discounts happen when the shopper stocks up on Catalinas and hands them over in one trip.

I tried this out myself this month. I concentrated on getting all of the awesome Catalina deals and “rolling” them over. In two weeks of shopping, we got more than $200 worth of groceries at one store for the total cost of $13.94. I know that is less of a savings than the lady on the show got, but hey, I was impressed, especially since I’m not on television.

The Catalina coupons were the big secret of my success. I got multiple Catalinas for $10 off and $25 my next order. I always wondered how the extreme couponers or super savers could pay so little for items that don’t even typically offer coupons. Catalinas are the answer.

For all of those items that don’t typically have coupons, such as fresh produce or organic brands, the Catalinas act like cash. You can apply that $10 off toward a bag or two of oranges or potatoes, let’s say, to get them for free.

What are these things and how can you get them for free? You know those little pieces of paper that print out at the cash register? Most people ignore them. I’ve even found a few high value ones sitting on the grocery floor or in the parking lot.

These coupons are usually triggered by the items that you buy. For example, if you spend a specific dollar amount on certain products or a specific number of select products, you’ll qualify for money off of your next order.

Sometimes these offers are advertised and sometimes they aren’t. Often, you have to do a little research to find them.

When they are advertised, you may see notices in your local store flyer, on a sign hanging in the grocery store itself or in a small tag on a shelf.

To find the unadvertised opportunities, you’ll have to do your research and get insider information from people who have found them. Going forward, I’ll be paying careful attention to these offers and passing on that information to you. This means that you can visit FreeCoupons.com to find the best grocery store catalina deals.

Here are some tips for using Catalinas for extreme couponing:

  • Do your research to find the products that trigger the offers
  • Use multiple coupons on the trigger products to get them for as little as possible
  • Make multiple trips through the checkout line to score as many of the offers as you can.

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The Dark Side of Extreme Couponing

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 6:12 am
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Can clipping coupons have a bad side. Oh yea. Here is how to avoid stepping over to the dark side.
Watching the Extreme Couponing shows scares me a little. Some of these people will stop at nothing to get a good deal, or actually, lots of good deals. They spend up to six hours a day working on their coupons to make sure that they can provide groceries for their families for free or nearly for free.

This can be an amazingly great thing. Clipping coupons and matching deals takes some work, and the rewards are all of these free or low cost products. Extreme couponers should reap the rewards. I’m not anti-coupon. Using coupons is a necessity in my household. It keeps our grocery bill within budget, gives us the opportunity to try new products and more. And I admire the folks who dedicate their time, energy and talents to getting the best deals.

The thing that scares me is the “stop at nothing” part. At some point the extreme couponing can become an obsession, an addiction. When someone has a hoard of more toilet paper than will ever get used in their lifetime or even their grandchildren’s lifetimes, does that make sense? Is it affecting their family life?

Getting these deals can be a thrill. Unfortunately, bad choices can be made in the quest for getting everything for free, even unethical choices. Many extreme couponing techniques can be seen as downright illegal.

A friend of mine who works as a cashier has seen it all. Shoppers who knowingly clip the expiration dates off of coupons in order to defraud the store. Shoppers who alter or create their own Internet coupons in order to get free products (fraud again). Shoppers who get free full size product samples and then “return” them to the store for cash (yup, fraud). This is shoplifting. It is stealing.

Then there are shoppers who may not be acting illegally, but practice other unsavory acts. scream or threaten cashiers when they can’t or won’t take 50 of the same coupon, in accordance to the store policy. And of course this is done at peak shopping times when the line snakes down to the aisles. There are also the shoppers who arrive as soon as the sale starts, ready to snatch away every product and leave the shelves bare, whether they need 75 cans of soup or not.

All of these things give us coupon clippers a bad name.

The sad thing is that you can get great deals without going over to the dark side. Practice honest, respectful and courteous use of your coupons. Take advantage of deals but don’t resort to illegal or unethical behavior.

I don’t want to blame extreme couponers. There are plenty of extreme couponers out there who do it the right way. They even use their extra items and savings to bless others.

So how can you tell when the line has been crossed? It is a matter of being self aware. When you start feeling compelled to get every deal out there, even if it doesn’t make sense for your family or it compromises your conscience, be wary. If you hope the cashier won’t catch something that is against the rules, beware. The dark side is approaching.

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Extreme Couponing Show

Posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 8:14 am
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Save on your grocery bill with Coupons

Save on your grocery bill with Coupons

If you haven’t seen the TLC special on Extreme Couponing, then you’ll be glad to know that they are turning it into a regular series. Here is the promotional blurb about it. Some of these people are amazing. They go to extreme lengths to save money with coupons.

All-new series to premiere this spring

EXTREME COUPONING follows along as savvy shoppers plan and plot their
way to unbelievable savings.
The series premieres Wednesday, April 6 with two episodes at 9 & 9:30 PM
ET/PT, and will move to the 9:30 PM time slot the following week

Has anyone seen the show? if so, what did you think of it?We’ve been having some discussions about extreme couponing on the FreeCoupons.com Facebook Fan page.

You might be interested in this post:

The Dark Side of Extreme Couponing–Click Here!

OOohhh scary!

Also, you can learn more about the Extreme Couponing show on TLC’s website here.

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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.