Almost everyone in America has heard of the show Extreme Couponers, but if you haven’t, the show follows multiple women who spend countless hours searching and collecting coupons. I know what you’re thinking: why would anyone spend hours searching for coupons just to save a dollar or two on their grocery order, but it’s WAY more than a dollar or two. These women end up saving over 90% off their entire grocery haul walking away with over $500 worth of groceries only spending $20 for the entire order. THIS is why they spend hours and hours searching for coupons. Intrigued?
Here’s a list of 10 tips to actually become an extreme couponer.
1. Find a coupon bank
Coupons are out there, you just have to find them. According to the extreme couponers, this is the part that takes the most time. It can be hard to find reliable coupons that aren’t already expired or that will apply to the items you actually need. A tip to keep in mind: go to the website for the grocery store you shop at the most to find great coupons. For example, if you shop at Publix the most, go to their website and print off all of the coupons they offer. This way you know that the coupons are reliable and will actually apply to your order because they come straight from their website.
2. Read the fine print
Like with most things, coupons always come with terms and rules that you must follow for the coupon to be applicable. The worst feeling is walking up to the register thinking you got a great deal only to find out that the specific coupon doesn’t apply to your order. Do your research and read the fine print to avoid any surprises at the register.
3. Look for manufacturer coupons
First, you need to learn the difference between a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. A manufacturer coupon is a coupon placed on the product by the manufacturer. For example, sometimes you’ll see coupons actually stuck onto the product on the shelf that will be say “Manufacturer Coupon” on them. A store coupon is a coupon placed on the item by the store. A lot of times this is based on how much of that specific item the store has in stock. If the store has too large of a quantity, they either put the item on sale or issue a coupon for the item to hopefully make it sell faster.
4. Learn your store policy
As they mention time and time again in the show, some stores will double your coupons which adds to even more savings overall. You should read up on the store policy to make sure. When you get up to the register, ask the cashier if your coupons can be doubled. If you’re a planner, like me, just call ahead of time to double check. It will only add to your savings in the end. Also, double check and make sure that the sale price of your items doesn’t need a store loyalty card to go with it. In stores that offer a loyalty or savings card, the shelves advertise an item as “on sale” but only if you’re signed up to their loyalty program. These are things you should keep in mind when braving the treacherous sea of grocery store aisles.
5. Pay attention to sale or clearance items
It may go without saying, but you’ll get a much better deal if you apply your coupons onto items that are already on sale or on clearance. Say an item is already buy one get one free and you apply a dollar coupon on top, you could end up getting over 50% off that one item. Even better–if an item is on clearance and you have a coupon on top of that. Bonus! This also goes back to reading the fine print to make sure the coupon is applicable to clearance items.
6. Plan, plan and plan again
There’s a reason why the moms on the show always carry a giant binder with them to the grocery store. Thanks to technology, most if not all coupons can be downloaded straight to your phone so no need to carry around a coupon bible with you. It takes a little bit of time to plan out your grocery list and see which items have coupons. Once you’ve found a reliable database for your coupons, sit down and plan out what you need, what you’re going to buy and how much it’s actually going to cost. Once you think you’ve calculated how much your entire haul will cost, calculate again and again after that. The goal is to not have any surprises and for the total to ring in exactly or around the amount you calculated.
7. Read the newspaper
In today’s age, most people (millennials) get their news updates straight from their phone. And by news updates, I mean the latest Kardashian drama on Twitter. However, if you’re serious about couponing and saving money, read the newspaper. Don’t panic, you don’t actually have to read it, just look for the coupon inserts in the middle. This is where you can find a ton of coupons and also ads telling you which items are on sale. Now wondering where the hell to get a newspaper? A little secret: the cheapest place to buy a newspaper is at the dollar store. Yes, places still sell physical newspapers. Most of the time you can buy one for a dollar, just make sure the coupon inserts are actually in the middle.
8. Make a list and check it twice
When you really begin to dive into the couponing world, it can be easy to print off coupons for items that you don’t need or things you don’t actually use. By making a list, it will be easier to keep track of the coupons you’re actually collecting and to stick to the necessities. Remember, the whole point is to save a little (or a lot) of money. You may end up spending or wasting money if you buy things that you don’t actually need. Let’s not get carried away here.
9. Find coupons you’ll actually use
Plot twist: you can find coupons on more than just food items. If you look, you can find a coupon for almost anything, and pretty easily at that. Cleaning products, drugstore makeup, vitamins, even toothpaste most of the time has a coupon floating around somewhere on the innerwebs, there for any and every one. Extreme couponing doesn’t have to be for just food items. Why not save money in every aspect of life?
10. Keep track of your savings
What better way to motivate yourself than by keeping track of exactly how much money couponing saves you. No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted. If you actually commit to it, couponing can save you a lot of money in the long run. It won’t be easy to start, but soon enough, the soccer moms on extreme couponing will be quaking because you’ll be coming for their spot.