Saturday, April 30, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Our family absolutely LOVES this show.  Although there are a lot of perspectives on what the shoppers on Extreme Couponing do, there is no arguing the point that feeding a family (especially one with 6 boys like ours) can get expensive, and coupons are a way to reduce that cost.  While we do not have stockpiles of food or other items that we do not need, we will buy a few month's supply of an item if we can get a great deal on it. You also can use coupons to your advantage without going to the "extremes" of the families profiled on the show. 

I used to use coupons religously, in fact, we were able to come up with half of the down payment on our home 10 years ago with just my coupon savings.  But... when baby #3 was joined by baby #4, baby #5, and finally baby #6, I felt that I just didn't have the time.  But now baby #6 is 5 years old, and with the economy being as scary as it is, I feel that we just don't have any other choice!  If you are in the same boat, here are some tips to get you started:  If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Where Do I Get Coupons?

I have not resported to dumpster diving yet, but here are some ways that I DO get coupons:

Newspapers-The Sunday coupon inserts are a tried and true method. Not all papers carry the same inserts, so you might ask which inserts your local paper has. You might even subscribe to a paper that is a little further away or buy them at the store.  Our local paper is only available on Wednesdays, so I buy the Reno Gazette Journal.  I try to get at least 4 sets of inserts a week especially if I know there are going to be coupons I will use in them.  You can get a weekly email of the upcoming coupons, and I will be posting them on this site each week.

Printable Internet coupons- This is another way to find multiple coupons.  You can even find many of the coupons available in the Sunday inserts.There are alot of really good sites to print coupons from. You can print the same coupons from alot of different sites. Most of the sites will allow you to print the coupon twice. But if you have more than one computer at home, you can print it twice from each computer. I found it works best to print with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and MAC. If you do not have high speed internet it can be tricky to get them to print. I have a link on the side of my blog listing my favorite print sites. DO NOT try to photocopy your coupons -  the stores can tell, and it will make using printable coupons harder for us all. Check your local stores to see if they except printed coupons.
Blinkies- These are the little black boxes with the red blinking light that spit out coupons. You can find these little units on the selves in some stores, like Albertsons, Safeway, Smiths, and WalGreens to name a few. Go ahead and take a few and save them for your coupon stash. But only take a few, remember to play nice and leave some for the next coupon hunter.

Ask and you shall receive- you would be surprised how many people just throw them away. Ask everyone you know to save coupons for you.  Once your friends, family, co-works and neighbors know you like coupons they are normally happy to help save them for you.

Peelies- these are the coupons that come stuck to a product. They normally have a long shelf life, they tend to not expire for up to a year. They are great to save and combine with future sales.

Buying coupons- According to the law, no one can “sell” a coupon. But they CAN charge you for the time and effort put into clipping it. You’ll find lots of coupons for sale on Ebay other sites .
The Manufacturer- Many companies like it when you contact them. You can call, email, or write to them and tell them how much you love the product. Some companies are happy to send you coupons for discounts, or for free products. But not all companies do, you just have to ask around.

Facebook - Your old high school buddies are not the only ones you will want to find on Facebook.   Manufacturers and stores often offer coupons to people who "like" their page.

Twitter - Many manufacturers also have Twitter accounts.  I also follow people who post about deals and coupons and that helps me to find some.

What coupons should I save?

What coupons do you save? I used to go through my Sunday ads clipping only a few coupons, for the products I regularly use, but now I clip and save almost every coupon. (Remember I said you could pay for people's time cutting out coupons?  You can sell extra coupons on ebay or trade with fellow couponers for the ones you need!)  On Sunday when the coupon inserts come out, I spend some time clipping them out (older kiddos and spouses can be great helpers!). I sort my coupons in stacks of similar products.For example, cleaning supplies would be in one pile, and frozen food would be in another.  I try to sort them by grocery aisles.   Once I have piles separated out - I put them into a coupon binder ( I plan to do a post on this next week).  When I go to the store, I never know for sure what might go on sale or clearance, if I keep my binder with all of the coupons with me, I can take advantage of both the sale and the coupon.

How many coupons should I save?

 I try to get  as many of each coupon I know I will use. Why do I save so many? Example: If Scolari's  is having a sale on Dish Detergent, for $1, plus I have a coupon for .50 cents (which Scolari's will double to $1) that would make it FREE a great deal….but I don’t really want to go out of my way just to grab one bottle, But if I have saved 5 coupons, and I can get 5 bottles for free it will then be worth my time to buy it. Plus I then have a nice  stockpile of Dish Detergent. When you buy items at a low price, and stock up - the goal is to have enough so you won’t have to buy it again till it comes on sale. This way you are ALWAYS able to buy your items half off or more.

When Should I Use My Coupons?

This is something I definitely had to learn!  Just because you have a coupon does not mean you should buy an item. In fact if you buy items just because you have a coupon, you will end up spending more money on items that may still be over priced. The trick is to wait for the item you have coupons for to go on sale or clearance which is an even better deal!

Wait for a sale- Wait for items to come on sale then use the coupon along with the sale. Use your multiple copies of coupons to buy several of that item, so you don’t need to buy it again till another sale comes along. Example- If Crest toothpaste is on sale for $1.00 and I have 7 coupons for $1.00 off, I will buy 7 tubes of tootpaste and will get them all free.  I won't have to buy toothpaste for several months, and instead I can use that extra $10-$20 for something else - like paying down debt, a down payment on a house, or a vacation to Disneyland!

For a list of stock-pile prices check out this post.

For a seasonal list of sales, check out this post.

Buy one get one free sales- When a store has a buy one get one free sale, this is a great time to use your coupons. You can use 2 coupons. One for the item you are buying and one for the item you are getting for free. Remember coupons are like cash. The store IS getting paid for that product, by the Manufacturer. So the store gives you the second item for free, but they can turn in the coupon and get paid for that item they just gave you for free. Example- Oreo Cookies are on sale buy one get one free. You pay $4.00 for the first bag of cookies, and get the 2nd free. But, if you have 2 coupons for $1 off Oreos, you can use both of those coupons. One coupon is applied to each bag of chips (although one bag is considered free) Both coupons are applied to the total sale price. Bringing the total to $2 for 2 bags of Oreo Cookies. You would have paid $8 for 2 bags of Oreos, but using the Buy one get one (BOGO) free sale you have saved $4 PLUS $2 in coupons.

Stacking your coupons- Stacking your coupons is when you are able to use 2 coupons for one item. You are able to do this when you use a in-store coupon ( a coupon that the store prints, normally in the weekly ad. It will have the store logo on it) along with a MFR (manufacturer coupon). When you use the in-store coupon and the MFR coupon together this is called “stacking” your coupons. So watch for those in-store coupons, and see if you have a MFR coupon to go along with it. (Be sure to check the store's coupon policy to see if you can do this!)

Rebates- A lot of company’s offer a mail in rebate for their items as part of a promotion to get you to try or buy their product. Many times this makes the item free after rebate. Example- The store is selling nuts for $5.00, and they have a mail in rebate for $5.00 which would make the item free. But if you use a $2.00 coupon on the nuts, after you turn in your rebate they will give you a check for $5.00. SO you will actually make $2.00 just for buying the nuts.

Register Rewards - Some stores, like Walgreens, offer register rewards when you purchase an item.  These rewards can be spent like cash during a later transaction making the item you purchased (or the next item you purchase) essentially FREE.  For example: Walgreens has razors on sale for $3.99 and they are offering a $2 register reward if you purchase this razor.  If you have a $2 coupon for the razor - you are essentially not only getting the razor for free, but you are making a penny!

Store match or double- Some stores do this every week (like Scolari's), while some only do it a few times a year. They will match your coupon amount, which gives you the chance to get twice the amount of your coupon. Example- the store is selling juice for $1.00 but I have a coupon for $.50 off, The store them matches the price of my coupon giving me another $.50 off, making my juice FREE. Normally if a store matches or doubles coupons they only let you do a limited of items per shopping trip. So I plan to make several trip through the checkout line. Sometimes I split the order and send my hubby to a different register.

Learn More with the articles below:

Earn money and rewards for using coupons

Grocery Store Stock Up Prices

Go Green to Save Some Green

1 comment:

Coupon Crocodile said...

Great post! I love the show too actually. I mean, it's made for TV so I take it with a grain of salt. But I think it's fantastic to pay less for items we all use. Like a few weeks ago I was down to 1/4 bottle of body wash and now I have ten bottles in my pantry. So for the next year, I don't have to think about it. That will never factor into my tiny weekly budget. Which means I can stress less when I am not able to save as much at the grocery store. LOVE it!