Some people get their adrenaline rush from running a marathon, climbing a mountain or winning the big game. Me? I get a rush from saving money. I know that may sound crazy but there are few things more exciting to me than getting to the end of the grocery receipt and reading “You’ve saved $77 on this trip”. I love it!
I’ve always thought I was an excellent couponer and did a great job lowering our grocery bill each week…then I saw Extreme Couponing on TLC. Holy cow! These people are phenomenal. My husband and I watched an episode last night with our mouths hanging open in disbelief. One couple purchased over $3,000 worth of groceries for under $100!
There was another woman who purchased (if you can call it that) over $2,000 worth of groceries and, instead of paying for any of them, received a gift card for over $50 because the value of her coupons exceeded the cost of the groceries and her particular store paid overages.
Now, with that being said, these folks are the epitome of extreme couponers. They spend 30+ hours a week clipping coupons, scouring sale flyers and websites, etc. Some of their homes are consumed by large stock piles of groceries and home care products. So, I don’t know that I would ever go that extreme but, with that being said, I was definitely intrigued and got to thinking…if these people can do it, I can definitely save more on our grocery bill. I considered it a personal challenge to up the savings tally at the end of my next grocery receipt.
My next question is, how do I improve my results without crossing the line into “extreme” couponing? I just don’t have the time, energy or inclination to get that far into it but, as we all know, I love to save money! I don’t know that I have the answer to my question yet but I have some ideas that I plan to try out over the next few weeks. In the mean time, I can share a little about how I currently use coupons.
Some people complain that coupons are more work than they are worth but if you find a good method and stick with it, you can save some real money. There are many methods of couponing to choose from, some more fanatical than others. Some people clip them all and file them in a binder while others clip nothing and save the entire coupon flyer until they do their shopping.
The approach that works best for me is to search through the flyers when they come in, clip the coupons for the types of items my family uses and then pass the flyers on to other family members who then also share their left-overs with me. Be sure to search the store sale flyer before your shopping trip and combine coupons with sales. For example, on a recent trip to the store, I had 2 coupons for $.75 off of 2 boxes of Barilla pasta and the store was running a 10 for $10 sale on the same pasta. I purchased 4 boxes, used both coupons (which the store doubled) and paid only $1 for all four boxes of pasta (regularly $4.96). You can also combine manufacturer coupons and store coupons for even better deals, sometimes getting items for free!
There are a variety of ways to get coupons. Like your mother and grandmother, you can still find them in your weekend papers which is a great resource but don’t stop yourself there. You can find great coupons online at places like www.Coupons.com and www.SmartSource.com.
You can also pay a small fee to have others clip the coupons for you. One website I am thinking of trying is The Coupon Carryout. I’ve never used a service like this but if you want a large number of multiple coupons because you saw a great deal in your store’s sale flyer, this is an easy way to get them and if the savings is huge, the small fee for the extra coupons might be worth it.
If you don’t have time to search through the tons of online coupons available then subscribe to a few of the great blogs out there run by those that make this their hobby and are willing to share their information. One that I’ve talked about before is Money Saving Mom but another great one is Clipper Girl.
While we are on the topic of coupons, don’t stop at groceries. There are coupons out there for all sorts of things. Be sure to check The Zone Magazine each month for coupons from local advertisers, like this one from Over The Moon Cafe.