Couponing is more then just buying a newspaper Sunday, heading to the store later in the week and buying items that look good and then wondering if you have a coupon to use to save.
There are a few key steps to take that will describe couponing as extreme. It’s not about getting a room full of things, it’s the extreme savings you get when you coupon the right way.
Extreme couponing was the beginning of us making a dent in our consumer debt. Applying the following tips helped my family reach financial goals I didn’t think were possible. We ended up paying off all our debt, and now working on paying off our mortgage.
If you think that coupons are only for boxed foods, that is partially true. There are plenty of free coupons to print for boxed food, BUT there are more coupons for natural and organic products than ever. Organic coupons and e-coupons for fruit and veggies have come a long way. Don’t close the door to couponing because of what you have heard or just skimmed through a few coupons.
If you keep looking you will find exactly what you need.
Only Buy Things on Sale or Clearance
If you want to start extreme couponing you need to be extreme in what you purchase. Only buy things that are on sale or clearance. This will make it easier when you start couponing because your mindset has changed to only find a sale price.
Learn to Maximize a Coupons Value
To maximize a coupon’s value you MUST pair it with a sale. That right there is extreme couponing defined. Pairing a coupon with a sale price. Now that you are only looking for sale items it’s easier to start stacking coupons with lower prices.
Stores That Double Coupons
When I first started extreme couponing Tops Markets was my go-to spot. It’s still my favorite store to coupon at. There are plenty of other grocery stores that double coupons up to a 99¢ every day.
Wegmans is another popular one here in New York. When you see an item on sale for $2.50 and you have a $0.50/1 coupon to use, you may think it’s not worth saving 50¢ but when you get that coupon doubled to $1 your mindset shifts.
When you pay $1.50 for a box of cereal and stock up and grab let’s say four boxes your out of pocket cost is $6. If you decide to buy four boxes of cereal one every week for the full price of $4 you will pay $16. That’s a 62% savings when you stack a coupon with a sale price. Imagine if you had that amount of savings on EVERY item you bought?
Your grocery bill would shrink drastically. That’s exactly what happened to us when I started couponing this way. We shrunk our grocery bill so much that we had extra money to pay off student loans, credit card bills and more. You can read our debt free story here.
Only buy a 3-6 month supply
The key to being a successful extreme couponer is to buy what you need. Don’t get caught up in showcasing a stockroom full of goods that you got for free. Of course, you can buy a few extra to donate but many times in our culture when we accumulate stuff, it leads to more stress.
Stick to what your family will use in a 3-6 month term. You can extreme coupon, without having a room full of extras.
Only Buy What You Need
If your family hates that free cereal, it doesn’t matter that it was free. It will still be wasted. Now you are left with using more of your precious time to get rid of it.
You may find yourself searching Pinterest for a recipe to use it up which leads to your mind racing about the other 20 things you want to try thanks to Pinterest and you’re left with five boxes of food no one wants.
Of course, you can donate it and that is a wonderful thing if you have the time to get extra items. When I first started couponing I had a two-year-old and an almost-one-year-old. My brain was a mess. Sometimes just figuring out the extra coupons to use to get a free item that we wouldn’t use added a stress I didn’t need.
That’s not to say down the road as those beautiful children grow and your time loosens a bit you will be able to coupon for free items and easily donate.
It’s okay to know that during certain seasons of life you can’t do something. Especially when raising small children. Many times we get caught up in thinking we have to do it all, but the most important thing we can do is take care of yourself and our children. Some days that’s hard enough as it is.
Prepare Your Own Meals & Meal Plan With Sale Items
Something I love about extreme couponing is that you can get personal care items for cheap, and many pantry staples. Allowing you a little more room to splurge on expensive budget breakers like meat and fruit.
Couponing is all about planning and staying on top of deals. Thankfully with sites like ours and many others watching deals and knowing what new coupons come out is easier than ever.
Coupon matchup lists are your lifeline to extreme couponing. To maximize your savings with coupons you need to plan your meals. It’s easier to do this when you are stocking up on pantry staples. That way you are going through your inventory and saving money by eating dinner at home.
Master the Free Samples To Build Up Your Coupons
I went crazy for all things free when I first started couponing. All those free samples you see online I grabbed them all. I loved that anytime I received a sample in the mail it had a high-value coupon.
Those rare coupons make for amazing deals when paired with a sale. You want to build up your coupons so you don’t have the frantic stress of chasing every deal.
Once you have a coupon stash it’s easier to not feel so rushed to get all the latest deals. The same feeling comes once you have a pantry stocked with goods to make your own meals.
That ease of mind is worth gold at times right? In the beginning, you can grab a couple extra coupon inserts when you know there are coupons for items you need.
It really doesn’t take long to scan the upcoming coupon inserts to get an idea if the paper that weekend is worth your time and money.
Only Buy What You Can Afford
Be careful when you start couponing that you don’t end up buying things you can’t afford. Even if it is a rock bottom price if you can’t pay for it, you can’t buy it. This is one of the number reasons people fail at their budgets.
Remember that may not always be the case if you continue to be smart with your money. Maybe in two months, or a year you will be able to buy that item without a sale price because of the hard work you put in.
The worst thing I think to do when you start extreme couponing and saving money is to use it to buy things you don’t need. Instead, make a goal with where that extra income is going to go.
A budget is for sure needed and the smart way to manage your money. Once you give every dollar a name, you’re on your way to financial freedom. Avoid temptations to indulge in things you can’t afford even if you are having some wiggle room in the budget.
Paying off all debt is the best thing to do with that money.
Learning different store’s coupon policies can be overwhelming. So try to stay organized for the coupons you need at each store. Our matchup lists give you the ability to add items from any of the stores we provide and print it out or save to your phone.
That way each list tells you what coupon to use and how many. You will have a neatly compiled list of all the stores you want to coupon at.
Keeping your coupons organized is helpful as well. When you start bringing home inserts you could file away whole. I always write the date the coupon inserts came out on the front of the booklet and place in a file cabinet. I cut each coupon out as I need it.
I take advantage of all the digital coupons I can. BJ’s now offers digital coupons, Tops Markets, and I love Target Cartwheel. It is a great idea to head directly to every store’s website to see if they have the exclusive load to card coupons. Many these days do.
I love using the coupon database when I see an item go on sale or clearance.
Don’t start big. Instead, start with one store at a time. Master that store’s coupon policy, how often they release store coupons and if they have any special promotions running.
For example, BJ’s members have gas promotions when you buy certain items you get x amount of money off a gallon of gas. Tops Markets does gas promotions as well.
After mastering one store you can slowly add other stores to your list. Every store’s coupon policy will vary. You can easily get overwhelmed when you get a new cashier who isn’t quite sure of the coupon policy and challenges you.
It helps to be confident in what the store’s coupon policy states and to stand up for your couponing ways. Today many consumers take advantage of couponing and policies, which leads to many retailers cracking down on the use of coupons.
Don’t let that discourage you. Honest couponing is the only way to go.