#ExtremeCouponing Tips for Real People – Part 2

With the return of the Extreme Couponing series on TV, more and more people are checking into how coupons can make a difference in their family’s budgets. This show demonstrates how powerful coupons can be, and how much you can save with time and effort when shopping. However this show does taking couponing to a whole different level that might not be possible for most of us in daily life. I ran this awhile back, but with all of our new readers I wanted to share again, with a few more tips to help you get some “extreme” savings on a realistic level.

 

1. Don’t buy things you won’t use or need. I have to admit, when my husband and I started couponing — we went REALLY overboard and bought WAY too much of many items just because they were free or a really great deal. While the coupon rush is great, and the savings are amazing, it’s also important to be realistic about your family’s needs. If you’ve watched a few episodes of Extreme Couponing, you’ve probably seen the lady that has years and years and years of toilet paper. Don’t waste your time and resources (not to mention storage space!) buying up items your family will never possibly use. Instead, plan ahead for a realistic supply. If you are going to buy more, then consider donating to a worthwhile cause.

2. Make sure your ROI is worth it. When considering business opportunities, many companies usually consider ROI — or return on investment and as a couponer, this is something you should consider too. Yes, something may be a good deal, or even free with coupon but you also need to consider in additional factors. Is it still a great deal if you have to pay to purchase coupons, or once you factor in your time and travel costs to the store?  For example, my family lives 30 minutes from the nearest Walgreens and Target. While there might be some great freebies, we also have to evaluate if it’s worth the cost of gas and an hour in the car to go work the deals.
3. Free items aren’t always totally free. Depending on your state of residence, and the items you purchase — sales tax might be applicable depending on what you purchase. While most food items aren’t taxable, other items like health and beauty are. So even a “free” bottle of shampoo or body wash will cost you something after sales tax. You’ll also want to calculate in cost of your coupons (whether you purchase or print them), travel costs, etc.)

4. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon: Got a great high value coupon that’s burning a hold in your pocket (or coupon binder)? Just because a coupon is a nice value, doesn’t mean you should use it immediately. Even with a high value coupon, that item still might not be that great of deal. Try to wait for a great sale or promo to partner it with for even more savings where you can get the item very, very cheap — and possibly free! If it doesn’t get used — it’s OK. You’ll most likely see that coupon return again very soon!

5. You won’t be able to get every deal. Have you been dreaming about a hot deal, only to have the store sold out or the deal fall through? Reality is that every coupon deal and transaction does not go smoothly and if you aren’t able to get it this time, there will be other opportunities. Don’t let it ruin your day — or your excitement over saving money! Ask your store manager for a rain check, or try again later, or at a different location.

6. Remember real life is different that on TV. When you watch the transactions on Extreme Couponing and see every coupon is accepted, every price rings up perfect and everything goes through without problems, it’s important to remember that it’s also scripted TV. While they might appear live, the transactions have been plotted to excruciating detail and approved ahead of time with the store for the sake of filming. In real life couponing (much like real life as general!) nothing always goes according to plan. Don’t take it personally, don’t pick fights with the cashier, or make a scene at the register with 20 people stuck behind you. Often it is best to chalk it up to experience, collect your coupons and leave your purchases with the cashier to put away — and then try again a different store or a later time.

7. Use the Social Network for big savings. If you’re not on Facebook — now is the time. There are amazing freebies and high value coupons daily, and this is where I score some of my best freebies and deals. Create an account, even if you just use it for coupons and samples. Many deals do require you to “allow” a company’s application to get the sample or coupon, but you can immediately remove these and still get the deal without pimping out your friend’s list and personal info.

8. Don’t be ashamed of saving money. Every once in awhile when I’m spotted out shopping with my coupon box by a neighbor or co-worker, I can feel my cheeks growing a bit red as they discover my “secret”, however the truth is that saving money is nothing to be ashamed of. A majority of coupons are actually redeemed by those in higher income brackets, and there is nothing wrong with stretching your family’s budget to make it go further. Our couponing pays for a much better lifestyle than we could normally afford including entertainment, trips and more — something to be proud of!

9. Big savings usually happen on a smaller level. I admit there’s a few times I’ve gone down the checkout with more than one cart like they do on TV, but most successful coupon users usually do their savings in smaller transactions. It can be difficult and time consuming to do the $1000+ transactions like on TV, and in reality it usually goes smoother if you do it in smaller multiple purchases. My husband and I like to fly under the radar without irritating cashiers, managers and everyone else in the store by holding up the like. It’s also easier to keep track of your costs and coupons when you go smaller. If you do go big, be sure to be courteous. Ask the cashier or manager if there is a certain check out you should use (they will often open a new lane, or have you check out in a certain dept), warn customers getting in line behind you that you’re going to be awhile, and to smile and be nice to the cashier and bagger who are assisting you. For really big transactions, I’ve even given the cashier a small tip, or a free item from my purchase for being so patient and helping me with my purchase. That kindness goes a long way — especially when you go back to do it again the next time.

10. Share the wealth. Ok. I’ve shared this tip before, but it’s so important, I wanted to make sure I mentioned it again. Once you’ve figured out how to use your couponing powers for massive savings, it’s important to use those abilities for the greater good. With unemployment high, the tough economy, the soaring price of gas and just the expensiveness of life in general many families and individuals are having a really hard time making ends meet right now. Whenever you can, be sure to share some of your shopping with those in need. Even a small amount can make a difference!

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Comments

  1. I use coupons, but definitely can’t say I do extreme couponing! I like to wait for the items to be on sale before using the coupon, unless I need it right then. I have noticed that the stores by me often have certain things on sale that are in the coupons from the local paper. But then there are times you have to wait a week or 2 for it to go on sale. I am one who rarely buys something that is not on sale :)

    When I first started to use coupons, I was guilty of buying things just because it was a great deal with the coupon. I would get home and think to myself “why in heck did I buy that?” I donated the items, but yeah I never would have used it myself!

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