Saturday, June 21, 2014

a beginner's thoughts on EXTREME COUPONING

So, as of this summer, I can call myself an "extreme couponer".
I began clipping coupons and stacking savings about a month ago and the savings has been incredible!
I am obviously still learning, and use so many resources to do my shopping, but thought I'd share a little bit of my process!

Disclaimer: The savings are amazing, but it does take time. I would guess I've been spending approximately 20 hours per week on couponing, clipping, matching deals and shopping.
I'm a shopper. I love to shop. 
And "extreme couponing" has allowed me to continue my "hobby" AND benefit my family.

Disclaimer 2: So far, I've averaged a savings on groceries, household items, toiletries and pet care at 71% off retail. My trips have been anywhere between 60-100% off. You're not going to walk out of a store with free stuff each time. Despite what TLC may lead you to believe: )

So...this first part of Extreme Couponing is completely thinking of how you shop.
Prior to couponing, I would make a list of what we needed for the month (the weekend after pay day), then go to Costco and Aldi to stock up for the month.
Then I would go to Aldi weekly for milk and fruits/veggies.

I thought I was being savvy by always buying store brand and avoiding the regular grocery store.
I was wrong.

Now, I don't shop for specific items of desire, but I shop what's at rock bottom prices.
Then I stock up.
And by stock up, I mean approximately 3 months worth of the item, if coupons and store policies allow.
So when laundry soap is on sale for $1.49...I buy 4 or 5.
Or pasta sauce is $.23, I buy 6 jars.

I then store the items in an organized storage area of our basement. And when it's time to meal plan, I check my stockpile and know that I can prepare that dish for the most cheap price.

Now building that stockpile takes time.
And you only need it as big as you have space and feel comfortable with.
I know people who want a years worth of items.
So if anything were to happen with their jobs, economy, or a natural disaster they would be perfectly fine.
It's completely up to you.

Also...sales come in cycles. Usually about 12 weeks.
So if you can purchase something at it's lowest price, and buy enough to last 3 months, then you can purchase it again when it becomes that cheap again.
Disclaimer 3: If something is FREE I do stock up for longer than 3 months worth. I get as many as my coupons/store policy allows. If we have an abundance, then we give it away.
For example, 2 weeks ago, Target was having AMAZING deals on body wash. I think I got PAID approximately $1.50 to "buy" 18 bottles. We obviously don't need 18 bottles so we've given several away.

There are a lot of different systems when it comes to getting, organizing and carrying coupons.
Here's what's worked for me.
I buy 2-3 papers a week, depending on how good the coupons are
(you can preview them online a few days in advance)
Then on Sunday evening, I get clipping.

I then put them in my coupon binder.
I use the "baseball card sleeve method".
I bought approximately 100 sheets of baseball care sleeves and placed them in a 3" binder.
I then bought tabs and labeled the coupons into categories so I can easily find them.

I always keep my binder with me, even just to go grab something quick. You never know when you will see something on clearance and need that coupon!

Krazy Coupon Lady lists current deals and what coupons to use to get the best prices. She also has a coupon database, where if you are wanting to find a coupon to print online, you can see if there is one and how to get it.
Penny Pinchin Mom is also great and is from Raymore MO. She posts some local Kansas City deals which are fabulous to see!
Instagram has become my number once resource. If you simply search #extremecouponing, savvy shoppers post their deals and the "breakdown" of how to do the same. I simply see people's deals that interest me and copy them!
Favado app for iphone is also amazing! You select the stores you shop at and it will list the best deals of the week and how to get them!

So each day, I usually check instagram and krazy coupon lady and see if there are any deals I can't pass up. Then make my list of where and what I'd like to do.

The BEST stores for extreme couponing is Target, CVS and Walgreens.
Target offers AMAZING savings in multiple ways, and in the last several weeks have gotten TONS of stuff for FREE!!!
Target deals can be a bit complex. It usually involves a manufacturer's coupon, stacked with a coupon, stacked with a store deal (like a $5 gift card when you buy 3 or $10 off your purchase of $40 or more) and the Cartwheel app which can add on additional savings.

CVS and Walgreens required membership to their saving programs. You can sign up in store or online.
By using the membership, you get the lowest prices. And also, many items on sale will qualify for either "Extracare bucks" or "Register Rewards" which is "money" that can be used toward your next trip. This is what makes for some free deals!!

So Extreme Couponing isn't super easy. It takes time, effort, organization and a lot of math.
But, it has been a blessing for our family and others.
I've been able to get such amazing deals, we are comfortable in many areas of things we need for our family AND have had excess to share. We've never been able to do that before.
And that is one my favorite parts.

With stacking deals you often will wind up with gift cards and extra bucks and such.
There are a few different things people do with those to maximize savings.
Some people simply use those for the next "deal". This greatly reduces any out-of-pocket and keeps "rolling" the freebies.
Other's save them and use them for Christmas/birthday/wedding gifts.
(please note: some do have expiration dates, so you have to watch for that)
Here's what I do: I save some to roll into the next week's deals, to reduce out-of-pocket expense and I save some to use on necessities that don't necessarily have coupons regularly.
For example, I usually make sure I have $4 extra care bucks each week so I can get "free milk", or I will use Target Gift cards from deals to buy meat or fruits and veggies.
Again, no right or wrong, just what's worked for us.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or comment. This is a very quick little overview and is no way comprehensive at all. 

1 comment:

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