I’m still considered a “rookie” in the world of extreme couponing. I only purchase 4 Sunday papers, I don’t buy hundreds of a single coupon from clipping services, I don’t clear shelves, and my garage doesn’t look like a mini mart. I work on building my stockpile slowly, 4 bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, bodywash, ect. at a time. I do not dedicate 30 hours a week to my couponing, maybe just 5 or so. In spite of my “extreme couponing” shortfalls, my family has benefited greatly! In 3 months I have built my year supply stock pile rather quickly. In the first month I was having to reorganize my cabinets in the bathroom to make room for all the bath and beauty products. I have had to reorganize my cleaning supplies cupboard, my makeup drawer, and my pantry. There are many items that I used to pay $3 or more for (toothpaste, deodorant, dishsoap), now I pay no more than .30 for these items! I do not pay more than .75 for shampoo and bodywash, and never pay a cent for toothbrushes. This accumulates to massive savings for a family of 6.
It all started with that silly show, Extreme Couponing… I was watching these mothers pay $5 for $600 worth of groceries. WHOA!!! How do I start? Sign me up! I started doing a little online research and found that the way those ladies coupon is nearly impossible. They have the stores breaking coupon limits and breaking store codes all for the sake of filming. Not to mention they buy 300 packs of Ramen Noodles then celebrate the fact that they will feed their family for months!!. Really? Who needs 300 packs of crap food? I did find a source of realistic inspiration, despite my disappointment. The site was Krazycouponlady.com. She taught me how to get started and how to find the best deals in my area.
I bought my coupon binder, 3 packs of baseball card holder pages, and my first 4 newspapers. I used my prettiest scrapbook paper to make dividers for organizing my coupons. I separated my binder into 6 categories, Food, Homekeeping, Beauty, Pets, First Aid, and Misc. I clipped my coupons then went out to start saving!! Turns out it takes a few weeks to really get going. You must sit on your coupons and wait. Wait for those items to go on sale. Most stores plan out their sales opposite that weeks coupon book. Be patient, let those coupons “ripen”, that sale WILL pop up, and when it does be ready to pounce on it. I was surprised at how many couponers we had in this area. They will clear the shelves of a good deal by the second day of the sale. Seriously, these ladies can be CRAZY!!! Try to get to the store within the first few hours of the sale starting.
I personally prefer to play the Drug Store Game. I find I get the best saving from CVS. If you learn their ECB (Extra Care Bucks) system, and how to use it to your advantage by making multiple transactions you will just be shocked at the savings. They always have bonus deals going on. As of now they will give you $5 in ECB’s (a little coupon that prints at the bottom of your receipt, you use it like cash in their stores) for every $50 you spend on ANY beauty supplies. They keep track of your spending using your CVS card, and the $50 is BEFORE you use coupons or deals. Using my coupons I may only spend $5 on beauty supplies, but my total BEFORE coupons was $50 or more. Hello $5 ECB!! Now, my purchase is free! They gave me my $5 back! I’ll save my $5 ECB and use it for next weeks shopping trip to keep my out of pocket cost low. Every week they have hundreds of items that will get you ECB’s after you purchase those items. Another big bonus, they ALWAYS have great diaper deals! I have twin boys in diapers and this helps immensely! I recently purchased 3 Jumbo packs of diapers, and 4 bags of Halloween Candy (the good stuff. 3 Musketeers, Mars, M&Ms, Twix) for$14. The machine then printed off a coupon for a free Jumbo pack of Huggies. SCORE!!!
If you are interested in couponing but find it overwhelming, do some research. Start slowly, don’t expect too much. Learn the rules, and find your local coupon friendly stores. Try not to get discouraged during those first few slow weeks. It will get better and your savings will be indredible! Combine this with my strategy for reducing your grocery bill and you will have more extra money than you ever thought possible! Time to open that savings account!