With the launch of TLC’s Extreme Couponing I’m sure posts like this one are commonplace. I do however feel I need to share my experience for whatever its worth. As I mentioned before, I’ve been struggling for some time with a shoulder injury that has had an enormous impact on many areas of our lives. I wont bore you with the details. In short, I’ve had to cut my pay-the-bills job down to about 1/3 of the hours I was working pre-injury which has cut a considerable portion of our “extra” funds each month.
After watching Extreme Couponing once, my interest was piqued. How can you watch shoppers save up to 95% of their bill and not want to give it a go? Of course as the title of the show suggests, you will see EXTREME cases on the show at stores which allow coupon doubling (not available in my area). I have not set my sights on a 95% savings but anything is better than nothing in my eyes. So, I set out on a new project.
There are many great websites that offer helpful hints like knowing the store’s coupon policy, coupon cycles, organizational tips, and sites where legitimate coupons can be downloaded and printed. I’ll admit I spent a few hours absorbing information and getting organized but it was just a FEW hours.
Now, only 2 weeks into couponing I feel the couponing routine is efficient and effective.
I bookmarked sites that offer full lists of available printable coupons and sites that sell coupons for pennies. I’ve decided purchasing some coupons is the best option for us to avoid spending money on newspapers to get 1 copy of each coupon with no guarantee that a single coupon for items we purchase will be in that paper. Instead, the money we would’ve been spending on newspapers is spent to buy only the coupons we need in quantities that allow us the most bang for our buck. We live in an area that doesn’t have the large newspaper recycle dumpsters you’ll see extreme couponers diving in for free coupon inserts. Remember that coupons can be found on displays at stores, on individual items, and inside product packaging. Don’t forget to ask friends and family for their inserts once they’re through with them. That takes care of the task of accumulating coupons.
I have a tendency to be a bit OCD with a few select tasks…and this is one of those tasks. I can be obsessive compulsive about my coupon organization. I have a simple accordion style coupon organizer that I got for $1 at Target. I haven’t yet seen the need to fill a 3 ring binder with coupons. I also have a small notebook I use for 3 things: price list, coupon list, and shopping list.
The price list includes a list of our staple items we always need to buy with price comparisons for the different local stores (remember to include sizes in your comparison). This price list is essential to make sure you truly are getting the best deal. Even if an item is on sale at one store it may be cheaper every day at another. I’ve included comparisons with Costco (which membership for me is a necessity for work). Big wholesale stores like Costco is the reason I suggest comparing prices per ounce or serving in your price list. You’ll have a hard time comparing regular store prices to wholesale store prices on many items if you dont know the price breakdown. This is also true for toilet paper and paper towels, especially with the brands who sell regular, double, and mega size rolls. How do you compare a 6 pack of mega size toilet paper rolls to a 4 back of double size toilet paper rolls? Calculate the cost per sheet or the cost per square foot! Crazy? Maybe, but I want to save money!
The coupon list is an ever changing list (by category) of coupons I currently have in my possession including the quantity of each coupon and expiration date. This makes it incredibly fast and easy to scan for a specific item that I’ve seen in a store’s weekly ad. I’ve also gone through and marked the coupons that expire at the end of the current month. After the coupons are used, just cross it out and move on.
The shopping list portion is updated quickly when seeking deals in the ads. I have a separate list for each store which includes each item with the sale price and coupon savings. This makes it easy to stop by the store on my way home from work and grab those 3 great deals before they expire without having to try to get organized before I leave the house in the morning. Both my coupon organizer and my notebook go with me everywhere just in case.
Get the deal!
Each week I check the weekly ads for each store in the area and match up sale items with coupons I already have clipped and organized. Take advantage of the internet for this task especially if you’re like us and don’t receive all of the ads by mail. Every store I shop at has their weekly ad available on their website. If I see a good sale price in a store’s ad but don’t already have a coupon for that item, I can quickly scan the lists available on the coupon websites I have bookmarked to see if any coupons exist for that item. Simple.