Every time we needed to go to the store, I cringed. Our budget was already tight and the grocery and toiletries budget seemed to be bursting at the seams. Unless something changed, we were on track to increase our budget for everyday food items and things like toothpaste and deodorant.
It doesn’t seem like much, but those everyday items add up fast. Spending $4 on a toothbrush or $3.50 on a tube of toothpaste was just the normal thing to do. Add that to the list of monthly expenses and you can easily spend $20, $40, or $60+ on these necessities with each trip to the store.
But we were tired of being normal. If normal meant spending hundreds of dollars each month on things that you can buy for pennies on the dollar, we didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
After watching Extreme Couponing on TLC one day, we couldn’t believe how much money people were saving with coupons. We hit our breaking point and decided that we didn’t want to sacrifice the necessities because our budget wasn’t expanding with the store prices. That’s when we decided that couponing might save us a few dollars and make each month a little more bearable. Little did we know how much ‘extreme’ couponing would save us each month!
To Coupon or Not to Coupon…
Now, we’ve always tried to be frugal, so it felt like couponing would fit nicely in our everyday spending habits. For example, we would always buy the off brand items because they were cheaper. But using coupons didn’t make sense, especially when the store brands were still cheaper than using a coupon on a name brand item. This one of the biggest myths of couponing, but at that time, we had no idea.
Our frugal mindset was the perfect start to our attempt to learn how to coupon, but it wasn’t a prerequisite to starting. We learned that the key to extreme couponing is to be open-minded. You’ll never save 80% on everyday items each month if you write off the idea of couponing. We almost didn’t start because the idea of couponing seemed to be a waste. Why would anyone spend an hour clipping coupons to save $0.30 on ketchup?” If you’ve ever said this (and we have!) this extreme couponing guide is for you.
Couponing isn’t about saving $0.30 here and there. It’s about knowing when to apply coupons to store sales so that you can walk out with toothbrushes for $0.25 and toothpaste for absolutely free. Once we learned these things, it made shopping enjoyable again. Imagine coming home from the store with over $80 worth of products that you’ll actually use, but you only spent $13 on it all. That happens to us all the time.
Extreme Couponing 101
Saving money with coupons has just become a part of our everyday life. It didn’t come naturally at first, but if you stick with it, you’ll begin to see how you can maximize deals in no time. It took us a few days to learn how to save money on groceries and toiletries with coupons, but once we got the hang of it, the savings were huge!
I don’t want to sound like I’m oversimplifying the extreme couponing process – but there isn’t much to it once you get the basics down.
3 Easy Steps to Start Extreme Couponing
1. Finding Coupons and Staying Organized
First, you need to start building your reserve of coupons. It’s best to stay organized with a coupon binder that has product dividers (you can print the dividers from here). Keeping your coupons organized will really help you with the next steps.
The majority of your coupons will come from two sources: newspaper inserts and online. But there are plenty of other places that you can find coupons.
- Store tearpads near products
- Receipts and Catalina coupons
- On product ‘peelies’
- Trial size products
- Dentist and Doctors’ offices
- Manufacturer emails
- The Library
- Online (Coupons.com, smartsource.com and manufacturer sites)
2. Finding the Deals and Matching Coupons
The best extreme couponers find their deals through coupon blogs that highlight weekly deals from popular stores. In fact, most of the legwork is done for you – you just need to subscribe to your favorite blogs and watch for the deals that are featured each week.
The major coupon blogs that we follow are:
Now it’s important to note that sometimes the deals will be different depending on your region. Sometimes your newspaper coupon inserts will have coupons of varying values, so you need to make sure the ‘tips’ from these blogs match the coupons that you’ve been clipping.
3. Using Coupons with Store Deals
The reason why people can save thousands of dollars each year is because of a coupon strategy called stacking. You can actually use a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon and apply both to a store sale. This often results in discounts of 50-80% or more. We’ve walked out of Walgreens with bags of products for pennies on the dollar.
Two quick examples of coupon stacking
Buy One Get One Deals
Let’s say that your favorite deodorant is on sale at Walgreens – buy one, get one free. It’s a store deal, so you might need to have their sale paper to scan at the front register. So without much effort at all, you could walk out with a 50% savings, but you can do better!
If you’ve been diligent in clipping coupons, you will probably have a coupon for the brand of deodorant that is on sale. Since you are purchasing two items, you are allowed to use two coupons, even if one of the items is discounted or free.
So let’s say the deodorant is $3.00 a stick and your coupons are good for $1.00 off of one. Since you have two items, you can use two coupons and save a total of $2.00 with the manufacturer coupons. Thanks to the BOGO sale, you only have to pay for one of the deodorants, so your total cost drops to $1.00 plus tax. Paying $0.50 for a $3.00 stick of deodorant means that you saved over 80%. These deals are very common and simply take a little patience in waiting for the right sale to come along.
Stacking Store Coupons and Manufacturer Coupons
Most store coupons can be used alongside manufacturer coupons. This means that you could buy one product and apply both a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon.
Here’s an example: toothpaste is on sale 2 for $4 at your local CVS. You have a manufacturer coupons for $2 off of 2 and two store coupons worth $.50 each. You can use all 3 coupons towards the toothpaste deal. The manufacturer coupon will bring the cost to $2.00 and both store coupons lower it even more, totaling $1.00 for two tubes of toothpaste. Paying $1.00 for two tubes of toothpaste valued at $3.29 each means that you’ve saved 85%!
It’s important to mention that you should know your store’s coupon policies. Most stores will allow you to combine store and manufacturer coupons, but may have policies that limit the use and combination of these coupons with certain store deals. It’s always good to have a firm understanding of your favorite store’s coupon policy and doesn’t hurt to print it off to have on hand in case a cashier gives you trouble.
Other Extreme Couponing Strategies
You don’t need to know much more than the first three points listed above to start saving 50-80% on your grocery and toiletries budget!
As you become more advanced with couponing and learn the ins and outs of your favorite store, you’ll find ways to maximize your savings even more. We took extreme couponing to the next level and wrote about our strategies in even more detail within our eBook: How to Coupon: Learn How To Cut Your Grocery Bill By 50-80%.
In it we go into these more ‘advanced’ extreme couponing strategies:
- Stacking Manufacturer Rebates
- How to Get the Most Store Rewards
- Applying Store Rewards With Coupons
- Building and Maximizing Your Stockpile
- *Plus a full set of coupon divider organizers
If you want to take your extreme couponing skills to the next level, take a look at this video and download our free eBook today.
For a limited time, we’re giving away our eBook to the first 500 people who sign up below. After that, we’ll be charging $17.99 for the book, so make sure you get your free copy.