Step-by-Step Guide to Extreme Couponing
Are you serious about stocking up and saving a ton of money? You know the old saying “You have to spend money to make money?” It’s true for saving money, too. Extreme couponers buy the coupons. The return on investment is definitely worth the outlay. If you’re lucky enough to have a sufficient number of friends/family who will give you all their intact coupon inserts from the weekly newspapers, then go for it! You’ll have to drive around and pick them up pronto – store sales won’t wait for you.
If your local newspaper is willing to deliver 4, 6, 10, or more of the Sunday edition (Saturday for some, but the date will always be Sunday’s when buying inserts) for a better price than buying just the inserts from an online vendor, then I’d do it. You can just go pick up several copies of the newspaper at a convenience store on the day the inserts come out – but every paper may not have all of them in it. The newspaper doesn’t guarantee each paper will have inserts in them. My local paper only allows the home delivery of 3 Sunday papers per person and/or per house (How stupid is that? *rhetorical question*).
Some weeks I buy 4 newspapers at my local Publix or Walgreens and some weeks I buy whole coupon inserts from an online vendor. I only know of two: Whole Coupon Inserts and Insert Insanity. I like both places. They’re super simple to use, always get my order to me unbelievably fast, and I’ve never had a problem with either You can earn points with Insert Insanity though. Both places take Paypal or credit cards. You can buy coupon inserts on ebay, but it’s hard to find exactly what you need + it takes too long for the seller to ship. I did have to search for and buy the 3/24 inserts on ebay because WCI was out. The problem there is, sellers bundle them in stacks of 5 or 10.
2. Decide how many inserts you want to work with each week. You’ll have to find a place to store your bounty! I used to do 10 inserts/10 of every product, but I’ve backed off to only 4. We moved and need to get better organized before I jump back up to 10 again.
If you don’t have a deep freezer or upright (my recommendation), you’ll probably want one. If you live in an apartment, you can get a small used chest freezer to tuck away in a corner. I found mine on Craigslist for $50. *Update: I sold the chest freezer and bought a nice used small upright for $75. Much easier to get to all the food in it.
If money is tight, just start with the next Sunday’s newspaprs. But never miss a week of getting your hands on the newest inserts! If you can afford to get the last 4 weeks of inserts, do it. This was my start-up OOP (out of pocket) invoice for when I was doing 6 inserts:
Your order balance is $49.04 which will be paid via PayPal Express Checkout.
Qty | Item # | Description | Price Each | Total Price
1 | (03-10) 6-pack combo | (03-10) 6-pack combo | $10.79 | $10.79
6 | (03-17) Red Plum Single | (03-17) Red Plum Single | $0.90 | $5.40
6 | (03-31) P&G Single | (03-31) P&G Single | $0.95 | $5.70
1 | (4-07) 6-pack combo=18 | (4-07) 6-pack combo=18 inserts total | $16.20 | $16.20
| inserts t
Shipping (Priority) $10.95
Balance Due $49.04
Each week, your order costs will fluctuate according to which inserts were in the Sunday newspaper. Some weeks there will be zero, one, two, or up to four. My bill for 5/5/13, which had two inserts – a Redplum and a Smart Source – looks like this:
Your order balance is $16.54 which will be paid via PayPal Express Checkout.
Qty | Item # | Description | Price Each | Total Price
1 | (05-05) 6 pack combo-12 | (05-05) 6 pack combo-12 inserts total | $10.79 | $10.79
Shipping (Priority) $5.75
Balance Due $16.54
3. Some people save their whole coupon inserts in 3-ring binders and pull each one out to clip the needed coupons every time they’re making a shopping list. I hate that method. As soon as my coupons arrive or I pick up the Sunday newspapers, I take the time up front to tear apart and stack each page then cut all the coupons at once. You’ll need A LOT of paper clips and a filing system for your clipped coupons. I don’t save every coupon, but I do keep the ones I think I have no need for. If an unbelievable bargain comes up for a product I don’t want or use, I buy it. More on that later.
UPDATE: I forgot about the option of purchasing pre-clipped coupons from The Coupon Clippers. I’ve done this on occasion. The handling price is the price you pay per coupon including the shipping. I prefer the whole inserts, but buy from them when my inserts don’t have the regional coupon I need.
4. Southern Savers is the best place I’ve found to prepare your weekly shopping list. They’ve done ALL the hard work for you.
5. Find your store in the menu. My store is Publix and they have several different coupon circulars that are on display racks in the front of their stores. Southern Savers lists every single coupon and all the other coupons it will work in conjunction with for every product. Not everything on sale will have a coupon. And sometimes Southern Savers misses a coupon opportunity you may have in your stash. Be aware that not every store will have exactly the same sales as those listed. You can use your store’s weekly sale ad to double check each product before you go. I’m usually too lazy to do this and find out when I’m in the store.
*IMPORTANT NOTE BELOW
6. Pay close attention to the quantity and size of each product on sale and what the coupon specifies. I’ve been tripped up several times in the store and crossed it off my list right then because it didn’t turn out to be the bargain I wanted. Many stores don’t have printable coupons or any paper coupons in the store. If they take e-coupons, use them, but they may only work for 1 product, not multiple. Many stores will take nearby competitor store coupons.
For instance, my Publix will take Food Lion, Sweet Bay, Albertson’s, and Winn Dixie store coupons, but will not take Target, Hitchcock’s, Whole Foods, or any others.
This is the most important part – you can STACK coupons! You can use 1 manufacturer’s coupon and 1 store coupon on every product – even BOGOs! BOGO = Buy 1 Get 1 Free. So, use 2 manufacturer’s and 2 store coupons for each BOGO. This is the key to huge savings and makes buying inserts absolutely worthwhile.
My Publix does not double manufacturer coupons at all, but many stores double up to .50¢ and some even up to $1.00. This is an incredible bonus for you lucky dogs! Never scoff at a .10¢ coupon – it all adds up when you’re stocking up.
7. Check each box next to the product you want to put on your list. PRINT COUPONS WHEREVER AND WHENEVER POSSIBLE! Please, please, please try to print some of your coupons from my Printable Coupons page if they’re from Coupons.com. I haven’t made enough money to pay for this website yet from offering them, but I’m trying! You can only print 2 (sometimes only 1) of each from a single computer. If you have access to more computers with printers, or laptops you can hook up to your printer, you can get more. Printables can be a double-edged sword, though. Don’t print if you’re not absolutely sure you’re going to use it; if you don’t print it now, you may not be able to later. There are limited quantities of printables set by the manufacturer. Bear in mind the cost of paper and ink. I buy the cheapest copy paper and refill my ink cartridges. I also print one coupon, put the paper backwards or upside down (depending on how your printer prints) back in the printer feed tray and print the second at the bottom of the front or back on the same paper. If you need help with this, let me know.
When you reach the bottom of your Southern Savers shopping list, select “Include Coupon Match-ups” then click “Create List.” Print your list. You’ll see on my used printed list how I added the quantity I wanted next to each item. Sometimes I decide not to buy something before I even reach the store and scribble it off. I take a marker with me to the store to scribble over each item I’ve picked up so I know I’m done with it.
8. I pull all the coupons out of each section in my file boxes and quickly thumb through them to find the ones needed. If I don’t have it, do I really want the product, am I willing to pay more for it? Most of the time, unless it’s something I need that week, I’ll say no. While I”m doing this, I’m also culling the expired coupons. Cashiers pay close attention to this!
9. If the store is out of an item GET A RAINCHECK!!! You’ll get the sale price and get to use your coupons even if they expire while you’re waiting for the item to be re-stocked.
10. If you can’t find one of the items, or it’s not marked on sale, ASK A STOCKER FOR HELP!!!
Example: Publix had a store coupon for BOGO Hawaiian Punch Aloha Morning + I had manufacturer coupons for the same product. But they didn’t have the product – not even a place for it on the shelf. The stocker said I could purchase any of the other Hawaiian Punch flavors in place of the non-existent Aloha Morning. When I checked out, the manager agreed. No one in my house drinks this, but I couldn’t pass up buying 6 gallons for .25 each. I donate everything beyond my family’s needs to our local foodbank and items that are perfect for our school backpack program go in a bin at any of our library locations. Another way to give is to make Blessing Bags to hand out to homeless people wherever you might see them.
** I’ve purchased $90.83 in whole coupon inserts to-date (not including 5/5) and used/saved $64.70 with manufacturer coupons in one single shopping trip. Total savings were about 67%. My next foray will at least double that without using the coupons I have yet to receive for 5/5 for a savings of at least 73%. I’m terrible with math so this is as good as it gets until I actually do the shopping.
11. Have all your coupons neat and ready for the cashier. Hand your rainchecks with their coupons to the cashier before he/she begins scanning your purchases. If something is free, try to put those coupons with the product as the cashier is ringing it up so he/she won’t have to scan back through the computer to find the price.
12. Don’t forget about the deals found everywhere else! CVS and Walgreen’s have unbelievable bargains. I can’t even begin to count how many things I’ve gotten completely FREE! And that’s with me ignoring the Register Rewards programs.
13. I love the reusable grocery bags! Invest in these because they make your life a whole lot easier and it’s good for the planet.
14. If you find great deals on products you don’t need or want, buy it anyway and give them to someone who does. This is an excellent way to donate to your local food banks and other charitable causes. Make blessing bags and keep them in your car to hand out to the homeless and less fortunate when you see them around town. Make care packages to send to our military men and women overseas. It’ll put a smile on your face and theirs. 🙂
15. Using a buddy system for shopping is ideal. I use my husband to help with the second cart, gathering, etc. Help your friend on their shopping trip then they can reciprocate the next day so each of you get through your own alive!
Have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labor. God’s blessings to you and yours! 🙂