Some Not So Extreme Couponing Tips for 2016

I'm a 43 year old man in Texas, and I'd always heard about these "coupon queens" who would buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for pennies on the dollar. The idea of extreme couponing intrigued me, but I never acted on it until last December. I was browsing a website about the subject and they'd mentioned that the local Dollar Tree in my area was carrying a type of peanut butter, Planters Nut-rition.

Since it was a Dollar Tree, they were selling the 12 oz jars for $1, but there was a coupon available online for 75 cents off. This meant I could buy jars of peanut butter for 25 cents. That got me hooked. So now I'm launching a website to offer some of my own couponing tips.

An example of a cash register receipt showing coupon savings. The first thing you need to understand is that this isn't an undertaking that you can do unless you're organized and have a little bit of time on your hands. It takes time to investigate deals, become aware of prices, and clip and organize your coupons. If you're working full time, and you have an hour commute each way, then a lot of your time is already spoken for. Extreme couponing might be beyond you. That doesn't mean you can't occasionally enjoy getting some stuff for next to nothing, but don't expect to spend an hour at the grocery store and come home with $500 worth of groceries that you paid $10 for. That looks great on television, but it's almost always the result of extraordinary amounts of planning, and usually they've negotiated special arrangements with the grocery store to suspend their regular coupon policies for the sake of publicity.

On the other hand, if you're a full-time housewife and mom, you might make couponing a part of your regular routine. A few hours a week can save your family hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per year. My wife was skeptical about the entire process at first. In fact, she hated going to the grocery store during the best of times, but once I got her hooked on the activity, it turned shopping into a big game for her. Now she takes a lot of pride in the amount of stuff she can buy for next to nothing. She also loves getting free stuff.

The big secret to extreme couponing is to combine coupons with sales in order to create larger savings than you would normally get. In the opening paragraph of this page, I described how I was able to buy 12 ounce jars of peanut butter for a quarter each. These jars retailed for about $4 at the local grocery store, so the savings was tremendous. That was exciting. (I eat peanut butter on an English muffin for breakfast every day, and I enjoy trying new things. The Nut-rition peanut butter from planters had banana and nut flavors included, both of which I liked quite well.)

The other big secret is stockpiling. If you've ever watched one of the television shows, you've probably already seen the huge stockpiles of items that these extreme couponers have built up and stored in their homes. It's a critical part of the process. The idea is that as your stockpile grows, your future grocery bills will decrease. Over the course of a year or so, you'll start to maximize the amount of money you're saving via your new hobby, because you'll only need to buy paper towels or toilet paper when you can buy it for next to nothing. Without a stockpile, that kind of discretion is impossible. Everyone needs toilet paper, and you can't necessarily wait for a sale + coupon combination if you run out. When you do get an opportunity to stock up, you should stock up as much as you can afford to. This might mean finding a place in your home to keep your stockpile. Most people can find space for this without too much effort.

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