Have you seen TLC’s latest hit, "Extreme Couponing"? In it, extreme savers (OK, some of them a little crazy) go to the supermarket and walk out with hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for only a few dollars! Not only is it even more addicting than "Jon and Kate + 8" (back before it got weird), it definitely makes you think--and makes many of you write to us and ask us how it's done! While “extreme couponing” may take a lot of practice and more than a little free time, saving $100-$200 per year with coupons is simple, and it’s easy to get started. Interested in extreme couponing? Here’s what you need to know.
Where to Get the Best Coupons
Believe it or not, one of the best places to get coupons in still in your Sunday paper. If you don’t get the Sunday paper, ask a friend or relative who does (and who doesn’t clip coupons) if they’ll save the coupon insert for you. Coworkers are another good source of coupons. Let everyone you know you're starting a coupon collection and see what rolls in! You can even start a coupon trading club and share with others what you don't need. Online, check out Coupons.com, Smart Source, and Coupon Cabin. for coupons you can print out and even just add to your grocery savings card online. And don’t forget that you can even add coupons with your smartphone!
What to Clip and What Not To
Remember, you aren’t saving money if you’re using a coupon to buy a product you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. However, if something is non-perishable and you know you'll use it, don’t be afraid to buy more than you need for the time being. Good examples of items to stock up on when you can get them for a very low price are canned goods, pasta, rice, toothpaste (and other bathroom items like lotion and shampoo), and frozen vegetables. Does your grocery store “double” coupons (offer you twice their value), or accept expired coupons? Finding a supermarket nearby that does can save you even more each year--in fact, you’ll notice that most of the stars of "Extreme Couponing" go to a grocery store that doubles.
Sync Up with Sales--and Other Coupons
Remember that (unless the coupon states otherwise) you can use more than one coupon for the same item. If a company has released coupons it means they want to promote the item, so don’t be surprised if you find more coupons for the same thing. Hang on to your coupons until close to their expiration date, and they may even sync up with in-store sales of the same item! Visit the website of your supermarket and drugstore to download their most recent circular.
Organization is Key
If you’ve ever seen the giant coupon binders--and rooms!--full of coupons on "Extreme Couponing," you know that keeping your collection of coupons in order is key for being able to find them when you need them. Use a three-ring binder with clear business card holders, or simply a few shoeboxes. Create categories such as dairy, snack foods, paper goods, etc., to make finding your coupons even easier. You’ll also need to clear out a cabinet or part of a room to store all those canned goods and toothpaste that you’re buying at low, low prices for later.
To get the biggest savings, you’ll have to not only have to have several coupons for a product, you’ll have to know which store is offering it for the cheapest price. Luckily, there are lot of dedicated bloggers who will keep you informed of which coupons sync with what grocery sales. Do an online search for "coupon match-ups" and your location (or local supermarket) to find some of them! Some sites also track coupons that sync up with Walgreens Register Rewards, Rite Aid Rebates, and CVS ExtraCare Bucks. They’ve done all the work for you, so just click the link to the drugstore you normally shop at and see where you can find savings! (You can sometimes even end up "shopping for free.")
Any other hints and tips for coupons? Please share them with us, or link up to your own coupon-clipping site below!