If you’ve ever seen the TLC show, “Extreme Couponing,” you may think that saving money is a hassle. Those couponers are serious about their work. They’ve got a system they’ve perfected.
But using coupons to save money doesn’t have to be as extreme as those “extreme couponers.” In fact, there are actually some easy ways to get started in using coupons to reduce your grocery or shopping bill.
Couponing is more than just cutting out coupons in the weekly newspaper or downloading and printing them off online. While those are great practices to start, we can also learn a thing or two from those extreme couponers.
But don’t be intimidated by the “extreme” in extreme couponers. Their secrets are actually very doable. By applying their strategies, you can begin to save just like they can.
Here, we share 10 secrets and strategies of extreme couponers and how you can implement them into your shopping life.
Know Your Store’s Coupon Policies
If you’re eager to start getting into couponing, it may be tempting to just dive right in. However, you may need to complete some prep work in order to truly be successful in saving money.
First of all, you need to understand your store’s coupon policies. Not every store has the same policies when it comes to doubling coupons, taking competitor coupons, stacking coupons or other practices that extreme couponers employ.
Usually, your store will have a page on their website detailing their coupon policy. Knowing this information before you begin piling on the coupons will help you save time, and a potential headache, come check out.
Before jumping in, be sure to familiarize yourself with your local store’s policies. Once you know the rules of the game, you can start playing.
Stores want you in their doors, and they may use enticing offers to get you in. For example, some stores allow you to double their coupons – up to a certain limit.
According to an article by Couponing 101, doubling coupons means that the store will accept your coupon and match the value of it, up to a certain amount. These limits are usually 50 cents or 99 cents.
When using manufacturing coupons, be sure to read the fine print. Often, there may be a “do not double” phrase. In this case, according to Couponing 101, the retailer, not the manufacturer, is responsible for the saved amount.
Before you start seeing double, be sure to check your store’s doubling policy.
Use Coupons With Sales
What’s better than using a simple coupon? Using a coupon when there’s already a sale.
Extreme couponers are planners and they know when sales are going on and which items are included in those sales. They want those two levels of savings.
While some stores don’t allow you to use coupons on already discounted items, it’s worth a try. Be on the lookout for sales and match your coupons for those items to receive even greater savings.
Using coupons on a sale price brings you at least two levels of savings. The store saves you by offering a sale price and you do the work of gathering matching coupons. And just like that, you’re on your way to greater savings.
Use Drug Store Coupons
Using coupons doesn’t just save you when buying food at your local grocery store. Coupons can also be used at your local drug store on those essential personal care items you need.
Sure, extreme couponers want to save money on boxes of cereal and gallons of milk. But they also want to save on shampoo, gummy vitamins and paper towels – which they sometimes run through quicker.
These coupon offers at drug stores work similarly to a grocery store. There may be opportunities to double coupons, use competitor coupons and stack coupons if allowed. Don’t limit your savings to just the grocery store.
Buy in Bulk
Another practice of extreme couponers is their habit of buying in bulk for the items they really need. Purchasing many of the same item together often reduces the price per unit as it saves on transportation and packaging costs.
Couponers also aren’t tied to a particular brand name when buying in bulk. While they may prefer a name brand kind of cereal, they’re willing to compromise for a generic brand in order to save some big money in the end. And, they doubt their family will ever be able to tell a difference.
A danger in always buying in bulk is purchasing items that your household doesn’t really use or need. Just because you can get dozens of cans of cheese soup for cheap doesn’t mean you should always buy it – especially if you’re lactose intolerant. Be wise about what you buy and go for the items your household goes through frequently.
Use the Internet to Find Coupons
When looking for coupons to use on their shopping trips, extreme couponers aren’t limited to the daily or weekly newspaper with a meager offering of deals. They go to internet sources and mobile apps to scout out the coupons that will help them save on their purchases.
They also know how to use them to receive their full benefit. They know the stores that accept mobile coupons and the ones that don’t. They know the mobile rewards apps that help them save money every trip to the store.
Use Cash-Back apps
If you look at an extreme couponer’s list of apps on their phone, you’ll probably see coupon apps. And, you will most likely find cash-back apps that bring another level of getting money back in their pocket.
Like coupon apps, they know how to use them to get the best rewards. Take a look through your phone’s app store and find those resources that will do the work for you in getting cash back.
Shop With a Plan
Most extreme couponers are strategic. They know the rules and set out a plan to get the best deals with their resources. They are not impulse buyers but rather enter the store with a plan.
Having a grocery list is a great first start. When you have a list, and stick to that list, you’re less likely to purchase items that you don’t really need.
Also part of the planning process is bringing your set of coupons, whether paper slips or on your mobile device. By knowing what you have deals on and what you need to do to meet those deals, you can save both time and money at the store.
There’s a lot of strategies and practices you can implement in your quest to couponing. In managing all the different policies, restrictions and requirements, it’s important to stay organized.
If you keep paper coupons, it may be a good idea to store all your coupons in a binder. You could organize them by product type, like frozen, produce, bakery, personal care and cleaning.
Having all your couponing materials in one place allows you to find the deals you need easily and quickly. You won’t need to search through stacks of assorted slips. When you need something, simply find the category and discover what deals you have waiting for you.
Coupon apps make it even easier to stay organized with grocery lists and categorized coupon collections.
Master one store at a time
Before you go crazy trying to find and utilize each and every possible deal out there, hold on. Extreme couponers start by focusing on one store at a time.
Extreme couponers didn’t start out as “extreme.” They took one first step toward saving money and continued to work at it. They continued to learn and try new things in order to help their wallets.
Start with one store. Learn their policies and find the best practices to get you the best savings. Then, when you’re comfortable, move to another store.
By following some of the strategies employed by extreme couponers, you too can see impressive savings.
Are you on a mission to be an extreme couponer? What’s one step you could take today to begin saving money when you shop?