What is Extreme Couponing?
I have some tips that I thought up for our beginner couponers out there. Some questions were asked of me, some things that I think will put some things into perspective for you. First of all, when I was putting together this coupon article, I was curious to know what Google thought “extreme couponing” was. I will tell you the extreme couponing definition by Wikipedia. It says extreme couponing is “an activity that combines shopping skills with the couponing in an attempt to save as much money as possible, while accumulating the most groceries”.
That is it, that’s all there is to extreme couponing! I know that couponing can be very intimidating, because you have all these couponers getting all these deals. We have so many stores. We have CVS. There’s tons of different coupons you can use there. There is a lot of stores that accept coupons, but it doesn’t have to be that that intimidating. My suggestion is to start with one or two stores. Master those stores so that you’re 100% comfortable couponing there. Then, move on.
You Don’t Have to Do Every Deal
Something that I’ve always liked when I try to teach people how to coupon in my personal life, I always say, “it’s not about how much you save, it’s about how much you’re spending”. I know that might sound weird because we start couponing to save money. The majority of us do, but if you are overspending, you’re not saving money. You don’t have to do every deal. Many people will tell you the same thing. You don’t have to do everyday. Successful couponers don’t do every deal
You’ll see that couponers are slightly different. There’s something others do that I don’t do, or I get that they don’t get. It’s because we are trying to get what is valuable to us. If an item has no value to you, it is not worth buying (even if you have a coupon). Don’t feel like you have to do every deal. Pick the deals that are best for you. You’re building your stockpile for you and your family, or whoever is going be using it. Do your deals that you want to do.
Getting Coupon Inserts
The next thing I wanted to explain is where the different coupon inserts come from. There are typically three inserts that we get in our Sunday paper every week. We may get one and not the other, but these are the different inserts that will come.
The first one is the “Smart Source” insert. I’m going abbreviate it “SS” (Smart Source).
RetailMeNot (Red Plum)
RetailMeNot used to be called Red Plum. RetailMeNot was formerly Red Plum, so you will see some of the coupon breakdowns using older coupons names. If I happen to reference Red Plum, keep in mind you won’t be seeing those anymore. As I break things down, RP is for red plum and RMN is for RetailMeNot. Just as a warning, I know that some coupon sites are still using the RP even though it’s RetailMeNot, because it’s familiar to us. If you ever see RP, just be aware it is now RetailMeNot.
Procter & Gamble
Next is P and G, or Procter & Gamble. This insert comes out once a month. It usually has most of our coupons such as Pampers and Pantene and things like that.
Usually once a month, we’ll get some surprise coupons in RetailMeNot or Smart Source, just so you know those coupons are regional. Not everybody is going to get them, but this is a once a month packet. Usually these coupons have about a two weeks lifespan. There are coupons in here they’re usually good until pretty much the end of the month. Most of them expire like halfway through the month, around the 14th or 15th or 16th (depending on the coupon).
Investing Before You Save Money
The next thing you should know, and this goes back to the “You don’t have to do every deal”, you will expect to not get everything for free at first. For example, CVS costs money. You have to invest money to get started. Whether its ten dollars or thirty dollars, you have to put money in and buy something to get extra care bucks. That’s something that you will have to invest in. I will invest thirty dollars on a really hot week that has tons of deals, so that way you’re getting the most back. Otherwise, you can do ten dollars as well, it just takes a little bit longer to build your extra care bucks.
For that CVS, you definitely have to do that. You have to buy newspapers, which might be something that you didn’t do before. Nowadays, you can just go online and read the news, without having to buy a newspaper. Buying a newspaper will be an expense you will need to invest. If you have any family members who buy newspaper, you could get it from them instead — assuming they aren’t couponers.
Don’t Buy If You Don’t Need
Anybody you know that has been couponing for a while will tell you they did this same thing. Don’t coupon for things you’re not going to use. Don’t do a deal unless it’s a money maker. If it’s gonna make the thing you need free, by all means do it, but don’t coupon for things because you know what? You’re going to put all that work and effort, you’re going figure out all your deals, you’re gonna go to the store, and then you’re going to go home and have a bag full of stuff that are gonna do nothing for you. When you look at your stockpile, you don’t want to say to yourself, “Look at all these things I’ll never use.”
Don’t Get “Coupon Happy”
I got coupon happy. Everybody gets coupon happy when you first start couponing, because you’re saying to yourself, “I’m walking out of the store and I’m not paying anything for these items. I’m doing it legally. How am I doing this?” It is very exciting. For me, it is still exciting to this day. I still get a “coupon high” when my transaction goes beautifully and flawlessly. I walk out of that store thinking I got a bag full of stuff. If something happened tomorrow where we couldn’t work, I know that I can wash my body I can wash my clothes I can wipe my butt. I could do all that with the stuff I have accumulated.
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That is not going to happen overnight. I have quite a few items in my stockpile that will last me for years. A huge stockpile. I moved and I did give stuff away, because moving a stockpile is not fun at all. You can’t pile everything up in a box, it’s heavy. So, I gave some stuff away. I moved I started building my stockpile again, and then we decided to buy a house. I have over a hundred bottles of shampoo because it will last forever. I have 30 bottles of laundry detergent. I’m not saying that is a good thing, I went overboard a little. That’s what I mean when I say don’t get “coupon happy”. Once you’ve stockpiled an item for two years, you don’t need more of it.
It Takes Time and Effort to Coupon
Couponing can be a little bit can be like a part-time job. You do have to figure out your deals, you have to go through your coupons, you have to make sure you buy the paper on Sunday, because if you don’t then you’d have to order inserts from a website or something. It is a little bit of a job, and then you have to go to the store. Depending on the store, some stores take longer to process coupons. It ends up being a big deal.
When I go to CVS, I do two or three transactions. I keep my transaction small and they always work out really well. I’ll do my first transaction, then I’ll drop them off in my car. Then, I’ll go back in and they’re totally okay with that. They actually like it because I’m not holding up the line. It does take a long time, so you don’t want to spend all that time on things that you don’t need.
Another thing is coupon organization. Coupons have expiration dates. There are tons and tons of coupons. I suggest finding a method of organization. I organize mine into file folders by dates. This is something you will need to work out a method that works for you.
I would suggest starting off with a couple of rebate apps, just because they’re just like a little added bonus and they can end up helping your out of pocket in the end. There are Check out the App Store and search for coupon apps. My favorite is Ibotta.
I love couponing because it is like a hobby. If you’re not careful, it can become like a part time job. I go back and forth, where I love it and then hate it. I have a love/hate with certain aspects of couponing. Even people who know how to coupon get overwhelmed. The way that I make sure that I’m not overwhelmed is I just cut down my apps I can still go to my stores. I can still get my deals, but I don’t use all my apps.
The majority of us start couponing to save money. Keep that in mind. When you start, your stockpile will happen, I promise you. It will happen, don’t even worry about it. Just worry about getting your deals. Bring them home. You don’t have to go overboard. You don’t have to have ten CVS cards. You can do that later on if you want. I would say, start with one card master whatever — store it is — and then move on from there. I hope you all have fun as you begin your journey couponing.
My name is Christina and I make videos about couponing on YouTube! I coupon and love to share the BEST deals found at stores like CVS, Walmart & Rite Aid. I upload ibotta hauls as well!