I recently watched the latest Extreme Couponing show on tlc
and it got me inspired to post about it.
I have taught couponing classes locally for my church and at my library a few years ago and was what you could call an "extreme couponer", my friends and family have coined me the "Coupon Queen". I have saved great deals of money on all kinds of items, including meats and produce like they suggest, but at the extreme levels of 90+percent like they show is abnormal even for the pro-couponer.
Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it realistic? No.
Why? Why not?
I will give my official response later...
Ok, so I was just flipping through when I started watching, so I don't have specific totals/numbers, but here's my take on the show.
On the show I noticed that there were many, many bottles of mustard purchased in one of the checkouts... something like 150. They showed her saving 90+ percent on her purchase, when the majority of her purchase was the mustard. Mustard costs anywhere from $1.29-$2 in most stores... say it was on sale for $1 which often happens in the spring & summer. Give her a $.50 coupon which doubles to $1 off, which makes her mustard free and shows the $1.29-$2 savings on her receipt... more than 100% which helps with her overall savings percentage. How many coupons will her store double?? That's a lot!... Most stores have a limit of only a few per check out unless you talk to them about it and get it cleared with them, which is often hard to do. It is possible that the store did it for the advertising to make themselves look coupon friendly. But.... Who needs 150 bottles of mustard?
On the show I watched, the husband and wife sorted coupons and looked through the advertisements with their kids on the kitchen table before they went shopping. I would venture to say someone had done more research than just scanning the ad and picking out the appropriate coupons before they went shopping... putting together the best scenario takes time. The wife called the store to verify their coupon policy before she went shopping... stores don't change their policy often, so makes me wonder if they use that store much or if they chose that one because of the show. I only called the stores when I was first getting started to see what the policy was for each individual store, one of my local stores didn't take internet coupons for awhile. If you look at most advertisements, they will write out their coupon policy on them in fine print, usually on the back of the ad, that's where I check for changes. Anyway, the store had surprisingly just changed their policy on the number of like coupons that they would double, which made them have to go through the checkout separately to maximize their savings... so they took it as a challenge to see who could save more money buying the same items with the same coupons... I didn't see the challenge if everything was the same. Their totals should have been the same... they weren't, weird. The challenge wouldn't really be fair unless they both had access to the same coupons in the same store and they did the shopping on thier own plan.. no preparing for the deals together like they did as a family.
The program made mention that for each box of cereal they bought they would be able to send in for a rebate. I don't know what rebate that was because they weren't specific, but rebates are generally one per person/household.
I thought the show was interesting and wanted to see how they depicted others shopping with coupons. I feel like this show and news specials about coupons often wait for a specific sale or coupon to become extra valuable to show even greater savings. I realize the show is called "extreme", and that is what it depicts.
Most people will not "extreme" coupon to the point that they people on the show do. Doing so requires lots of time in acquiring and organizing coupons, organizing deals, working with the double/triple rules for your store, and finding a store who has enough in stock to be able to use all of the coupons.
Doing some of the deals that were done.. like the mustard, most likely meant they "traded" for coupons somewhere to get that many of a specific coupon for that one deal. It is possible to get that many coupons, but takes advanced planning and knowledge of the sale because it usually means you have to wait for them to come in the mail. To have that many of one product on the shelf, or in the back for that matter, you would likely have to be there the first day of the sale or call the store ahead of time to request your number of that product be available for you.
Stockpiling... What makes extreme couponing work
To be able to extreme coupon like they do and have the savings that they are showing you would have to already have established a stockpile at home. The items that were purchased could be used for the week, but who wants to eat lunch meat and cereal all week this week, and say, hot dogs and yogurt the next? A stockpile serves as a storage place for the items you've bought previously at rock bottom prices that is kind of like a grocery/health & beauty store at home. When you need another tube of toothpaste, you go the the shelf to get one that you bought for free, instead of the store to spend $2-$4 on one. When you shop every week you maintain your stockpile as the deals role around, most deals are cyclic, and buy a few necessary items that your family needs.
Ok... so you want my response??
Possible?Yes... Once you've acquired a nice stockpile and could get by for a few weeks with little more than purchasing milk, bread, or produce, and having the time to devote to sorting and organizing everything.
Practical?For most people no... Couponing to the level they depict requires many, many multiple coupons, is very time consuming and requires lots of space as well. Hopefully these families are donating what they aren't able to use to other families or organizations.
You can save lots of money shopping with coupons
at the grocery and drug stores...
Lots and lots of money!
Save, Save, Save...I can't tell you how many times I've walked out of CVS or Walgreens paying just pennies for $20+ of stuff, and the grocery store saving 70-85+% but that is with some decent effort put into it. When I'm not full force organized for a grocery run and make a trip to the store, even if I need a few specific things, I usually save at least 50% just by watching for the sales and using coupons wherever I can without too much effort. But, I do have a stockpile at home, so some don't often "need" an item enough to pay full price for it.
Using coupons takes some effort and time, but can be worth it. Just be sure it doesn't overwhelm your life and take too much of your time. If it overwhelms your life and you choose it over family/friend time, it can be an addiction.... Yes, it's possible to be a coupon addict! When you first start to see some savings and how much you can save, it can reel you in and take control of your life if you're not careful.
I have some links that can help you get started with couponing, and there are many other sites online that can get you going... just do some searching. I started shortly after my son was born because the cost of diapers was crazy and I wanted to do something to help manage that new expense in our life. My husband thought I was nutso, and you may meet some resistance too, but now he loves that I take the effort to do some of the deals and keep a managable stockpile running. He loves to go grab a new tube of toothpaste and choose the kind instead of asking me to buy some next time I'm at the store.