Have you seen TLC’s Extreme Couponing? On the show, shoppers talk about how they stock up on items that they purchase for free or for a few pennies each. Usually these couponers have huge piles of merchandise in closets, under their beds, and in their attics, cellars and garages. They might have 100 tubes of toothpaste, 80 bottles of laundry detergent, dozens of lipsticks, cases upon cases of pasta, and hundreds of canned goods, all stacked up, waiting to be used (or not). The cameras follow these shoppers to the grocery store, where they buy something like $800 worth of groceries for $31.67. Sometimes they even receive cash back! While most of us do not have the need, desire or ability to devote hours and hours to cutting coupons, and don’t have the space to store enough soup to feed an army for six years, most of us could save some money by using coupons wisely. Here are some ideas:*Ask around for coupons. You get a nice stack in your Sunday paper, and that means that your neighbors do, too. Casually mention that you’re couponing, and ask if your friends and neighbors use their Sunday coupons. Some do, of course, but many just throw them in the recycling bin and may be happy to hand them over.*Watch the sales and stock up. One of the strategies that extreme couponers use is to buy on sale, and to stack a coupon on top of that sale. For example, if your favorite salad dressing is normally $3.00, but goes on sale for $2.00, and you have a coupon for 75 cents off, then you can buy the bottle for $1.25. When these types of deals are available, stock up, within reason, even if you don’t have an immediate need for the item.
*Know your favorite stores’ policies. Some stores will double or even triple coupons on certain days of the week or up to a certain amount. Others might not accept coupons that you’ve printed off of the Internet. Still others will accept store coupons from their competitors. The next time you’re in the store, have a chat with the manager to find out exactly what their coupon policies are. Take notes or ask for a copy.
*Be open to trying new brands. If you have a coupon for a brand other than that which you normally use, give it a try. If you’re not sure you’ll like it, buy the smallest (read: cheapest) variety that you can so you are not investing a lot into a new-to-you product.
*Be open to not using your coupons. Many times, buying the store’s brand is a better deal than using a coupon on a name brand. Give the store brands a try; in some cases, they taste exactly the same as or even better than the name brand products.
*Finally, don’t buy things you don’t need, coupon or not. You don’t need 100 sticks of deodorant or 120 bottles of ketchup. If you can get them for free or nearly free, consider buying them and donating them to a homeless shelter or other good cause, but unless you have an unusually large family or are shopping for the whole neighborhood, you will never use it all.
Are you an avid couponer? Would some call you extreme? What is your typical savings with coupons?
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to receive more just like it.