Author Topic: Extreme Couponing?  (Read 10259 times)

cbr shadow

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Extreme Couponing?
« on: December 06, 2012, 02:47:25 PM »
You see a lot of TV shows and blogs about extreme couponing.  Is this worth your time to do, or is the time investment just way too high?  I'm surprised I dont hear more about this from this forum since we're always trying to cut food costs.

On the blog by "the coupon lady' that I read a while back she mentioned that she will not pay more than $0.25 for a box of cereal (usually free), and never pays for toiletries. 

Thoughts?  Have you tried it?  Is it worth it?

maryofdoom

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 03:19:28 PM »
Couponing is an area fraught with peril. A lot of media coverage of "extreme" couponing is not at all realistic about what an actual person achieves on a regular basis.

I like coupons. I use coupons as much as I can. But I would say that only about 10-15% of coupons that come in a weekly paper are useful to me. There simply aren't a lot of coupons for fresh foods - the kind of things I prefer to buy. I have found that most food coupons are for heavily processed foods.

I used to do the CVS coupon thing for toiletries - at one time, I had about a year's supply of toilet paper in my apartment, for which I paid around $5. But they've changed the rules of the program and it's not as lucrative as it once was.

The amount of time you need to devote to couponing at that level is somewhat prohibitive for anyone who has a job outside of the home. Additionally, some of the tactics that people use to find coupons is somewhat shady to me (printing multiple copies of coupons on multiple computers at work to take advantage of different IP addresses; using fraudulent coupons; using coupons for one size of item on another size of the same item; misrepresenting coupon policies to naive cashiers) and I don't like that.

If I have a coupon for the kind of toothpaste my husband uses, I'm going to use that coupon. If I have coupons for fresh fruit, non-processed meats, peanut butter, yogurt, and other staples of my household? GAME ON. But I am not going to go get twenty boxes of super-salty noodle side dishes for $0.10 apiece.

caligulala

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 03:53:55 PM »
I got really into couponing for about 6 months. It was fun and did save quite a bit of money, especially on household items, medicines and beauty supplies. I still use the Grocery Game to tell me which CVS deals to do each week, mostly for diapers. As far as food goes, it was cool having Fig Newtons and stuff like that in the house for a few months, but I'd rather spend about the same amount on real food and cook it myself than play coupons.

The stockpiling techniques are good for savings, even if you don't use actual coupons. Basically, buy as much as you need when something is on sale to last until the next sale. Learn how to make substitutions with stuff you already have on hand. Buy the loss leaders from each week's ad and build your meals around what's on sale that week. I continue to do all those things, but I don't bother getting the paper every week anymore.

smedleyb

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 03:55:06 PM »
If you want to put in 20-30 hours a week to end up with a pantry full of sugar drinks, processed frozen foods, and roughly 200 jars of French's yellow mustard,  then extreme couponing may be for you.

At least that's my impression of the whole endeavor. 

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 04:24:32 PM »
Agreed with the general tone here. Couponing *for real* as portrayed on those silly shows seems to be a full time job that can morph into an obsession, with the consequence that you save money but spend other valuable stuff - time, storage space, healthy eating values - on stuff maybe you didn't really need in the first place. That said some of my readers tell me they get great deals on whole foods and real ingredients, so it definitely has its supporters. I like glancing at the weekly circulars for normal grocery store loss leaders and if there is a loss leader on something we will eat - like local organic chicken or blueberries or something - I will stock up, and then I'm the lady with 10 chickens and nothing else in my cart.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 04:39:36 PM »
The thing about that show that freaks me out the most is people making it a full time job level hour commitment to fill their house with crap they are very unlikely to ever consume.

It's great that you can get paper towel rolls for free, but when you need to stock up enough to fill a closet with just that item it's a little silly. It certainly doesn't seem like they are saving time. Though they maybe saving money on what they buy, I don't think they are spending very wisely.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 04:45:19 PM »
Most coupon deals seem to be for either processed junk or items which are such a small portion of your budget that it doesn't make it worth your time to try and clip coupons and watch for sales and other specials to coincide. Manufacturers offer coupons to boost total sales and profit, so it would seem to suggest that people using coupons as a whole will end up buying junk they didn't need.

That said, a quick glance at a grocery store flyer to see which items are on sale can help you figure out what to stock up on.

maryofdoom

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 09:25:52 PM »
I will note that I have a coupon in my coupon binder right now for $0.50 off a pomegranate, which my local grocery store will double to $1.00 - so yay for cheaper pomegranates! However, coupons like that don't come around often.

A thing you can do, if you find a product that you really like and don't ever find coupons for it, is to write to the company who makes the product and tell them how much you like it. For example, I like Muir Glen canned organic tomatoes. I wrote to the company, telling them how much I like their tomatoes and how they made it easy to make tasty, healthy dinners, and they sent me coupons for their product. It probably won't work with every company, but if you have some time and you want to tell people they're doing a good job, go for it.

My grocery store also occasionally sends out coupons based on what you buy, as tracked on your store loyalty card. My most recent batch included coupons for bananas, raspberries, ground beef, and mushrooms, all of which I will be happy to use.

jpo

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 07:08:25 AM »
We buy the Sunday paper and will cut coupons in that. We also will get coupons in the store (scan your discount card, get a page of coupons).

No printing online and we spend maybe an hour a week on it. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.

What has paid off for us as well is having one of those coupon books for local restaurants and services.

june28

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2012, 09:55:27 AM »
This is kind of related, but does anyone else do rebates? As in, no beer purchase required rebates. I know these are only available on a state by state basis, but I've had much more luck with getting discounts on quality food that way. Basically, I just go to the beer aisle of my local grocery store and look around for tearpads.  They say something like buy 10 packs of Heineken and $10.01 of meat, recieve $10 back by mail, no beer purchase required in the following states.  I send in my regular grocery receipt and the form to the provided address and in about 6 weeks, I get a check. It takes about 5 minutes to do... if you typically have stamps on hand.

Plus, added bonus, I look like a budget conscious alcoholic when I go to the bank with 10 $4 checks from Budweiser... 

Anyway, it's something to look into if you're in a state that's often on that provided list. I know Kentucky (where I am), Virginia and Utah are usually on there, but I am sure if you just google NBPR states, there might be a more comprehensive list somewhere.

Sylly

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 10:14:27 AM »
I used to be my Mom's little helper when it comes to coupons. We'd cut out coupons for things we use, I would arrange them in her coupon booklet, and I'd also correlate them with the supermarket sales. For some time, we had quite a stock of "free" toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants, etc. That was back when the local grocery chains were still doing double coupons. Most don't anymore.

I also notice more recently, that most coupons are for household goods (cleaning, personal care stuff -- lots for hair coloring for some reason) and processed foods. These days, I mostly rely on the store sales, and electronic coupons from the loyalty program (which does give coupons for produce), partly due to convenience, and also partly due to the coupon booklets not having coupons for things I regularly purchase anymore. I haven't been able to get 'free' anything for awhile now. Maybe I haven't looked in the right places. But part of it is also because I'm generally not as willing to pick up something I don't want or eventually need anyway.

ECrew28

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 10:58:50 AM »
I agree almost 100% with the sentiment here regarding coupons.  I will say that while I was out of work, we did hit the coupons pretty hard, but the food we were eating wasnt the best.  We have ditched that effort entirely and instead are focused on things that make sense.  We went in with 3 other families on a whole cow, each taking a quarter.  We are also doing the same with a hog and are looking in to locally sources chickens.  What I would be interested in finding is the following:

Coupons for things that dont go bad, like toilet paper, paper towels, and toiletries.  THOSE I would buy in mass if I could

I would also like to get into bartering again.  When I was fishing a lot, I used to trade with friends that would hunt and garden.  Now we have a quite sizeable garden, so we have plenty of veggies to trade, and we grow multiple crops throughout the year.  THAT would be beneficial to us for sure. 

Any thoughts?

EngGirl

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 11:38:16 AM »
To me, extreme couponing feels a little bit too much like extreme consumerism. I don't believe that staring at advertisements is a healthy thing to do. I would think that it puts your mind in "buy" mode. To me, getting away from the feeling of wanting to buy stuff (even food) is worth the 50 cents I might save. But that's just me.

kudy

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 12:53:12 PM »
Happy that this thread has confirmed what I thought already about *extreme* couponing, and I can continue to ignore the whole endeavor ;)

I've wondered in the past if it's worth getting the Sunday paper to check it for good coupons, but the idea has always turned me off.

smedleyb

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 01:21:24 PM »
To me, extreme couponing feels a little bit too much like extreme consumerism. I don't believe that staring at advertisements is a healthy thing to do. I would think that it puts your mind in "buy" mode. To me, getting away from the feeling of wanting to buy stuff (even food) is worth the 50 cents I might save. But that's just me.

I love this observation.  I think it gets to the deep psychological truth of couponing -- it's a form of rabid consumerism indulging itself, but under the guise of "thrift."   The couponer to me is just a druggie who knows how to deal the product and gets high for free, when truth be told he really needs to just get clean.   

NumberCruncher

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 03:44:39 PM »
I recently saw this article: http://www.xojane.com/diy/secrets-of-a-coupon-queen-how-to-cut-your-grocery-bill-in-half

They interview a college student who saves 50-70% on average while spending a couple hours a week finding the coupons. It doesn't go into health/how much processed food they eat, though, so maybe they save 50-70% on unhealthy food. She did say the following, so I'm hopeful.

"Obviously, you can save more, but you don’t always need to. Sometimes you can get a whole bunch of toothbrushes for free, and that will bring your savings up. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you had a well-rounded trip, because you just bought a bunch of toothbrushes.

Don’t worry about how much you are “saving,” because in the end what you’re spending is what is coming out of your pocket. Just get what you need and get it at the lowest price possible."

"I find my coupons from the local newspaper (I get two delivered every weekend, plus a free local one), from friends and family (sometimes they’ll save them for me!), websites like Coupons.com, RedPlum.com and CouponNetwork.com, and brand Facebook pages (like Ocean Spray, for instance). I wouldn’t recommend straying from the major coupon sites and the companies’ websites and Facebook pages, because you can end up printing bogus coupons."

Jake P

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2012, 03:38:18 PM »
Do any of you guys have an Aldis near by? They don't accept coupons, but a gallon of milk is regularly priced at $2.50! (current price here). They have weekly meat specials that seem to be a pretty good buy.  I find that shopping at places like Aldis and staying out of Wall Mart saves our family lots of $ and I don't have to hassle with the coupons.  Now if I am going to step foot inside of Wallmart, I try to have a giant stack of coupons!

kelly1mm

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2012, 12:13:18 AM »
I agree almost 100% with the sentiment here regarding coupons.  I will say that while I was out of work, we did hit the coupons pretty hard, but the food we were eating wasnt the best.  We have ditched that effort entirely and instead are focused on things that make sense.  We went in with 3 other families on a whole cow, each taking a quarter.  We are also doing the same with a hog and are looking in to locally sources chickens.  What I would be interested in finding is the following:

Coupons for things that dont go bad, like toilet paper, paper towels, and toiletries.  THOSE I would buy in mass if I could

I would also like to get into bartering again.  When I was fishing a lot, I used to trade with friends that would hunt and garden.  Now we have a quite sizeable garden, so we have plenty of veggies to trade, and we grow multiple crops throughout the year.  THAT would be beneficial to us for sure. 

Any thoughts?

For the coupons you are looking for just check ebay.  They are usually about .10 each sold in sets of 20 (ebay max).  My store doubles coupons up to .99 so 20 .75 coupons have a net value of $30.  I wll pay $2 to save $30!

For all those who posted above how it leads to hoarding - you are correct for most people.  BUT WE ARE MUSTACHIANS!  So, what to do with 50 bottles of Katsup?  two words = YARD SALE!  Got something light/small (for example, 20 bars of Neutrogena face soap that you paid $6 total for)?  Sell it on ebay for $99.99!

Think outside the box people!

(PS - if interested, I can give LOTS more examples from personal experience)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 12:15:26 AM by kelly1mm »

grantmeaname

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2012, 04:46:17 PM »
I would be drowning in consumerism if I shopped enough that I had a side gig in Neutrogena arbitrage. I can see how it makes economic sense, and I get that not everyone shares my values, but it's definitely not something I would do if I could at all avoid it.

rvanmanen

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2012, 09:03:49 AM »
IMO, The Extreme Couponing they portray on TV is essentially another version of Hoarders. It is pointless to have 2 years worth of an item when that same item will be on sale again in an average of 6 weeks time.

That being said, we use coupons on just about everything we end up purchasing.  Thanks to the internet, couponing is easier than it ever has been and we routinely end up saving 50-75% on our grocery bill.  Dont get hung up on the percentages you save though, as we would never end up purchasing these items at what the stores consider to be regular pricing.

I dont know if we can recommend websites here, so I wont provide links, but you can google these to get to the websites:  southernsavers, time2saveworkshops, iheartpublix, iheartsavingmoney  are some of the sites that we use.  Some of them let you pick and choose the things you want off of a stores weekly flyer and will highlight what coupons are available for each item.

Personally we almost entirely use internet printable coupons. They are free (apart from paper and ink costs, but you will be getting these items for dirt cheap as well if you start reading these sites).  Our newspaper coupons are really quite pathetic compared to what we get from the reputable internet sites listed previously in this thread.

+1 on Aldi's,  produce is super cheap, if you have one in your area, do yourself a favor and check it out!

MafiaPrincess

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #20 on: December 25, 2012, 01:15:51 PM »
Sadly as a Canadian, most of the ways people go hogwild with coupons don't work that way here.  Great if I can find a decent coupon on something I use.. but even that is pretty hit and miss and I need to stick with looking at the fliers and price matching.

prosaic

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2012, 02:08:34 PM »
I used to do couponing. It is very easy to get caught up in the competition to get the most for less, and to bump up your bragging rights saving percentage with crap you don't need because you can get overage using coupons on items.

I now use a combination of the cheapest local grocery store's loss leaders, a wonderful local Russian market with incredibly cheap produce (brown bananas for $.29/lb, bruised apples for the same, scallions for $.50 a large bunch, kale for $1.50 for a large bunch -- sample prices), and a "scratch n dent" store in Northampton, MA for super cheap shelf-stable food. We get grass fed ground beef from a dairy for $4.50/lb and buy expensive, local milk at a different dairy.

Nary a jar of free Vlasic pickles in my home. CVS couponing for personal toiletries and tissues/toiletpaper are all I do now.

CatM13

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2012, 07:22:57 AM »
I was never an extreme couponer like the people on the shows on TV but I was heavily into couponing for several years.  And this is my experience on the matter (take that for what's it worth as other's experience may vary).

I spent a lot of free time "hunting" down deal, eg. reading sites about deals, finding coupons, clipping coupons, traveling from store to store, in depth reading the weekly store ads. When I say a lot of free time, I would go so far as to say it was my second job because it took nearly all the free time I had outside of my 9-5 job. Admittedly I got a lot of items for free/tax only when I started. As someone else commented though, a lot of stores changed their policies along with some of their pricing such that the item that used to be free now cost you out of pock $0.50. I also found that I would buy an item if it was a "money maker" (eg. the store gave me back enough coupons to  spend in their store on the next visit that I "spent" none of my own money or they were giving me cash back - negative total at register). It didn't matter if I needed the item or not. Then that item would go to my house take up space and never be used. I had a lot of products expire before I used them because I bought so many (eg the "free" items). I never accounted for those hidden costs like my time to buy the item, travel to the store, cutting the coupon, trading for coupons, or gas involved (and yes, there were several car trips to stores less than 1 mile away). On the positive side, I donated a lot of items to the woman's shelter and food bank in town (always had lots of hygiene items and cleaners). And they were very appreciative of that support.

I speak of this in the past tense because I have stopped participating in this behavior (punched self in the face). I realized how much time and money I was wasting and the damage I may be doing to the environment and mine and my family's bodies using such processed/chemical filled items. I also realized that by "buying" these items I was creating demand for these products thus increasing the wallet size of some companies I'd rather  not support anymore.  I'm not saying I don't use coupons anymore, but I only use them on items I use and within a reasonable quantity (eg. 2 coupons on 2 bags of flour). And I do want to mention that I have found I spend less money on Food/HBA items since I stopped heavy couponing too. Not sure if that is completely due to stopping the heavy couponing or more a combination of that and the kind of products I use now (eg. baking soda, acv for hair care  instead of commerical shampoo).

Jaherman99

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Re: Extreme Couponing?
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2012, 07:24:57 AM »
Relevent coupons can save you some nice dough, but extreme couponing is hoarding, where you buy crap you don't need for the thrill of the win.  It's a bad idea all around.