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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Extreme Couponing. . .Not for the Faint of Heart

So I watched a whole season of Extreme Couponing in the last week or two and being the highly suggestible person that I was, I began to wonder why I was spending money in the grocery store, and why I wasn't leaving instead with cart-loads of free products with cash back to boot. I decided to try a little experiment and see if I could coupon as well. I wanted to see how much time it would take and how much I could save. Here are just a few ideas of what I learned.

To coupon successfully, you need to be realistic. It takes time, effort, commitment, attention to detail, and a love for what you are doing. It is not something you can take up easily, like learning to jump rope, but more like learning Italian.

To save the greatest amount of money, you need to be on the lookout for several things.
  • Sunday paper inserts
  • Manufacturer coupons
  • Store coupons
  • Sale prices
  • Loyalty cards
Once you have all these things sorted out, you need to match them. The ideal product is on sale, has a store coupon, and has a manufacturer coupon applicable to that item. It seems easy enough, but I spent a whole day searching online to match the coupons to the products to the stores.

Realistically speaking, you can't expect to spend 5 hours a week on something and get a great dividend. Those who participate in extreme couponing devote anywhere from 20-60 hours a week to their task, they dumpster dive for coupons, they ask friends for coupons, they buy coupons online. They may go to town up to 4 times a week to scout out the sales and buy the items they are looking for. They devote entire basements to their stockpile or store personal belongings with family members so they can fill their drawers & closets with products. They carry around 30 pound binders filled with coupons and some have rooms filled with inserts. Products must be rotated, coupons must be clipped, cashiers must be watched so they don't miss a coupon, multiple coupons must be printed on multiple computers, and the list goes on.

So I went out to town this afternoon, armed with two or three dozen coupons, and attempted my own extreme couponing trip. Upon my return I had some pretty good deals, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. Extreme couponers average a 90% savings on their products; I only managed a 65% savings. Here's a look at what I brought home:
  • 8 boxes of cereal
  • 4 reams of paper
  • 6 cleaning products
  • 9 personal care products
  • 2 boxes of cashew nuts
  • 1 10-pack of juice 
I paid out of pocket $46.43 for products retailing at $132.40 which is a decent haul. My best deals were the 4 reams of paper, which came out to 18 cents each after a super easy mail-in rebate, dishwashing soap for 38 cents, a box of cereal for $1, and floss for 2 cents.

My conclusion is that I shan't devote my spare time to couponing; I have other things I'd rather be doing! I may still watch a website or two (Target has both web & manufacturer coupons right on their website) and snag a deal here or there if there is a good one, but that will be the extent of it.

1 comment:

  1. It is like another job. I did it back in 2008 and we even dumpster dived for coupons, but it got to be so time consuming. It was fun while it lasted though. We still have toothpaste I think from 2008! Ha! It is hard to try to eat healthy and coupon too. I love how you used the word 'haul' like a pro.


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