By now you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the TLC show Extreme Couponing. Thanks to my DVR I’ve been able to watch it and I’ll admit, I’m totally addicted! I’d heard the stories before of people that used coupons to pay pennies on the dollar for their groceries but I never really believed it was possible. But thanks to Extreme Couponing you get to see the actual process that these people go through to achieve these massive savings, and while I’m still skeptical, I’ll admit I’m also inspired.
What is Extreme Couponing?
Using coupons, extreme couponers stockpile massive amounts of products. They plan their shopping trips with military precision. They go to great lengths to accumulate coupons: dumpster diving, enlisting friends, family and neighbors to save coupons from newspapers, ordering multiple Sunday newspapers. But the result is paying pennies on the dollar or even getting items for free.
Why Haven’t I Started Couponing?
The idea of couponing has been in the back of my mind for years now but some common misconceptions have kept me from taking the plunge:
- Coupons only entice you to buy junk you don’t need.
- Even if you have a coupon for an item you use (eg. paper towels) the generic item is still cheaper.
- Extreme couponing only works when stores double coupons.
- There are few coupons available for someone that doesn’t eat a lot of processed food and buys primarily organic.
These were my beliefs when it came to couponing. But after watching Extreme Couponing and doing some research I’m starting to believe that if you know how to use coupons and take advantage of store promotions, even someone like me who doesn’t buy a lot of processed food and doesn’t live in an area where they double coupons, can save enough money to make couponing a worthwhile activity.
How to Use Coupons Effectively
It is true, a coupon by itself for a brand name product will not make it cheaper than generic. Savings come when you can “stack” a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for an item that is also on sale. Then you stock up on items that you use when they are on sale versus buying “as needed”.
This month my grocery bill was over $700 for two adults and a toddler. That is RIDICULOUS! So I’m very hopeful that couponing can save us some money. My plan is to start small and focus on diapers, paper products and toiletries. Also, a huge chunk of my grocery budget is dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese. So I will be looking hard for opportunities to save in that area.
I’ve committed myself to do this for at least three months. I think that is the minimum amount of time needed to see if couponing is a money saving activity for my family. In addition to couponing, I’m going to get back to meal planning to avoid last minute trips to the grocery store or the urge to eat out a lot…which we have been doing lately. I’ll publish regular updates so you can follow along on my little coupon experiment. I’m still skeptical but hopeful this will be an effort that will save my family money.
Do you coupon? I’d love to hear how you use coupons to save money.