Extreme Couponing 101

by Sarah A Thrifty Mom

Related post to Extreme Couponing

There are a lot of views to what Extreme Couponing can do for you. Our motto has always been Mom First, A Thrifty Mom second. But for those who also like to save over 90% off your shopping trips this is the beginning to a thrifty life. You can accomplish this with out being “extreme” and still save over 90%. You don’t need an extra room for your groceries, or have to park your car outside. We try and help others become thrifty and stay out of debt! It is easy and can be fun, and at the same time help others who are in need. Common rules are politeness, thoughtfulness, not clearing the selves, ordering large numbers in a pre order from your store. Other things to check up on are:
Coupons 101 – Part 1

To be honest I use to think coupons were a waste of time. I would clip just a few and throw the rest in the trash. But my eyes have been opened. Now I look at a coupon as money in my pocket. Hope this info helps, let me know what other question you have.

Where do you get your coupons?
  • Newspaper- I have found the best place to get a wide variety of coupons all at once is the Sunday coupon inserts. I try to get at least 4 sets of inserts a week. Not all papers carry the same inserts, so you might ask which inserts your local paper has. Once a month, Procter & Gamble has a special coupon insert dedicated to their products but it is available only in select papers. Visit THISpage to find out which papers carry the P&G inserts. I am lucky both my local papers carry this insert. Most papers allow you to purchase just the Sunday paper, or Multiple papers, at a lower price.
  • Printable Internet coupons- There are alot of really good sites to print coupons from. You can print the same coupons from alot of different sites. Most of the sites will allow you to print the coupon twice. But if you have more than one computer at home, you can print it twice from each computer. I found it works best to print with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and MAC. If you do not have high speed internet it can be tricky to get them to print. I have a link on the side of my blog listing my favorite print sites. DO NOT try to photo copy your coupons the stores can tell, and it will make using printable coupons harder for us all. Check your local stores to see if they except printed coupons. Most my local stores do.
  • Blinkies- These are the little black boxes with the red blinking light that spits out coupons. You can find these little units on the selves in some stores, like Albertsons and WalGreens to name a few. Go ahead and take a few and save them for your coupon stash. But only take a few, remember to play nice and leave some for the next coupon hunter.
  • Ask around- you would be surprised how many people just throw them away. I have 2 very sweet little old ladies that share their papers with me every week. My husbands work gets Sunday papers. And they just toss them come Monday morning. So he grabs the inserts for me. Once your friends, family, co-works and neighbors know you like coupons they are normally happy to help save them for you.
  • Peelies- these are the coupons that come stuck to a product. They normally have a long shelf life, they tend to not expire for up to a year. They are great to save and combine with future sales.
  • Buying coupons- According to the law, no one can “sell” a coupon. But they CAN charge you for the time and effort put into clipping it. You’ll find lots of coupons for sale on Ebay other sites . You would be surprised how many crazy coupon lady’s are out there, they look for the good ones and buy them up quick.
  • The Manufacturer- Many companies like it when you contact them. You can call, email, or write to them and tell them how much you love the product. Some companies are happy to send you coupons for discounts, or for free products. But not all companies do, you just have to ask around.
Coupons 101- part 2
What coupons to save?
Now that I have talked about where to get your coupons we are on our way to the next step.
  • What coupons do you save? I clip and save almost every coupon. The only time I don’t save a coupon is if it’s something I would never use even if it was free. So I keep 99% of my coupons. On Sunday when the coupon inserts come out, I spent about an hour clipping them out of 5 different papers. I put them in stacks of similar products. Like all the shampoo goes in one pile, all the cracker coupons in another. By clipping them out of the paper you are able to get rid of a lot of the bulk. Who wants to keep 50 papers around their house. From here you need to organize them, I keep all my coupons in a coupon binder ( I plan to do a post on this next week)
  • Why do I clip and save every coupon? I save every coupon because I never know what is going to come on sale. Or when I might find an item on clearance, and if I have all my coupons in a binder, with me. Then I am able to take advantage of both the coupon and the sale. Before I started my binder I can’t tell you how many times I would buy something that I had a coupon for at home but I just forgot to bring it. Or I didn’t plan to buy it that week, but when I got to the store it was one sale. So I missed a great way to save even more money.
  • Don’t be to stuck on one brand- When you save all coupons, you are able to take advantage of some great sales. If you only save the coupons for the brands, you normally buy then you pay a lot more. For example: My family normally buys JIFF peanut butter, so if I see and coupon for JIF F I will hang on to it. But if I see a coupon for SKIPPY I might just toss it in the trash. Now if both peanut butters are $3.00 a jar I will always buy the one I like best. But if I find a sale later that month for SKIPPY for $1.75 and I have a .75 cents off coupon it would make the SKIPPY a $1 and the JIFF still is $3.00 and at that price I would be happy to buy SKIPPY. SO clip all brands and always bring your coupons along with you.
  • How many to save- I try to get at least 5 of each coupon but I am thrilled when I get more than that. Why do I save so many? Example: If Albertsons is having a sale on Chili, for 75 cents, and normal price is a $1, plus I have a coupon for .25 cents. That would make it half price .50 cents, a great deal….but I don’t really want to go out of my way for one can of chili. But if I have saved 8 coupons, and I can get 8 cans at half price it will then be worth my time to buy it. Plus I then have a nice “food storage” of chili. When you buy items at a low price, and stock up the goal is to have enough so you won’t have to buy it again till it comes on sale. This way you are ALWAYS able to buy your items half off or more.
Coupons 101- Part 3
When to use your coupons?
  • When to use your coupons- Just because you have a coupon does not mean you should buy an item. In fact if you buy items just because you have a coupon, you will end up spending more money on items you don’t really need, and are still over priced. The trick is to wait for the coupon to go on sale or clearance which is an even better deal.
  • Wait for a sale- Wait for items to come on sale then use the coupon along with the sale. Then buy several of that item, so you don’t need to buy it again till another sale comes along. Example- I have 10 tubes of name brand toothpaste. People I know tell me “But I don’t need 10 tubes of toothpaste!”. Well what I tell them is that if I can get paid over $10 to BUY 10 tubes of toothpaste (see my post here) then why not do it. And know that I wont need to spend that $30 dollars over the next year. Each time you can save like this adds up, and by year end you could save a ton of money. Or go on that vacation you wanted.
  • Buy one get one free sales- When a store has a buy one get one free sale, this is a great time to use your coupons. You can use 2 coupons. One for the item you are buying and one for the item you are getting for free. WHY, you need to remember that a coupon is like cash. The store IS getting paid for that product, by the Manufacturer. So the store gives you the second item for free, but they can turn in the coupon and get paid for that item they just gave you for free. Example- chips are on sale buy one get one free. You pay $4.00 for the first bag of chips, and get the 2nd free. But you have 2 coupons for $1 off a bag of chips. You can use both of those coupons. One coupon is applied to each bag of chips (although one bag is considered free) Both coupons are applied to the total sale price. Bringing the total to $2 for 2 bags of chips. You would have paid $8 for 2 bags of chips, but using the Buy one get one (BOGO) free sale you have saved $4 PLUS $2 in coupons.
  • Stacking your coupons- Stacking your coupons is when you are able to use 2 coupons for one item. You are able to do this when you use a in-store coupon ( a coupon that the store prints, normally in the weekly ad. It will have the store logo on it) along with a MFR (manufacturer coupon). When you use the in-store coupon and the MFR coupon together this is called “stacking” your coupons. So watch for those in-store coupons, and see if you have a MFR coupon to go along with it.
  • Rebates- A lot of company’s offer a mail in rebate for their items as part of a promotion to get you to try or buy their product. Many times this makes the item free after rebate. Example- The store is selling nuts for $5.00, and they have a mail in rebate for $5.00 which would make the item free. But if you use a $2.00 coupon on the nuts, after you turn in your rebate they will give you a check for $5.00. SO you will actually make $2.00 for buying the nuts.
  • Store match or double- Some stores do this every week, but my local stores only do it a few times a year. They will match you coupon amount, which gives you the chance to get twice the amount of your coupon. Example- the store is selling juice for $1.00 but I have a coupon for $.50 off, The store them matches the price of my coupon giving me another $.50 off, making my juice FREE. Normally if a store matches or doubles coupons they only let you do a limited of items per shopping trip. So I plan to make several trip through the checkout line.
Coupons 101 PART 4- How to organize your coupons
Once you starts to collect coupons you will notice very quickly they turn into a huge pile of clutter. The only way I will use coupons is if I can easily find them, and have them organized. Everyone has their own way, I have used several different methods but this is what works for me. This is a photo of my coupon binder, I found the binder at Walmart for $24 it seems to cover all my needs.

In the front on my binder I have clear sheet protecto rs , I have them labeled for my catalina coupons and one for rebates for the month. I also have one for each store I shop at example, Albertsons, Target, Walgreens…. In side of each pocket I can put that weeks ad, coupons I plan to use at that store etc. That way if I don’t want to haul my whole binder in with me, I can just take that stores packet. But most the time I take my whole binder in with me, because I never now what I might find on clearance, or sale….and I will need my coupons for that.

I have 20 sections in my binder, each of which have several categories. I use 3 ring photo sheets, some have a spot for 4 photos and others only hold 3. I know some people use card collection sheets to hold their coupons. But I found the sections were too small for my coupons. One thing I like about using the binder I can always add or take out a page as my needs change.

I love that I can zip it closed, when I used a box I was always spilling my coupons all over the place. The binder keeps every thing in place really well.

Before I up graded to getting 6 papers a week, I used these small photo albums you can find for $1 just about anywhere. I clipped holes in the side and put them in my day planner. This worked great when I only got one paper. But now that I get 6 Sunday papers, I quickly out grew my day planner.
These are the categories I have in my binder,
  1. Dairy – milk, Ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, cheese, other dairy
  2. Breakfast- Kellogg’s cereal, Post cereal. GM cereal, other cereal, granola bars, Quaker products, breakfast mix, frozen breakfast, other breakfast
  3. Beverages- soda, fruit juice, veggie juice, powdered, other
  4. Canned- fruit, veggies, soup Campbell’s, soup other, broth, chili, sauce, other
  5. Condiments- mayo, pickles, olives, salad toppings, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard, peanut butter, jelly, other
  6. Grains- Dry pasta, mac& cheese, Hamburger helper, rice, side dishes, potatoes, baking- Brownies, cake, muffin, frosting, sugar, oil, flour, other
  7. Snacks- fruit snacks, nuts, popcorn, gum, candy, chocolate, crackers, cookies, chips, other
  8. Frozen- bread, rolls, pizza, dessert, pasta, veggies, dinners, meat, Asian, other
  9. Food misc.- diet, health, Mexican, Asian, meat, other
  10. Baby- diapers, soap, food, other
  11. Medication- laxatives, aspirin, Tylenol, cough drops, muscle pain, cold meds, tums and pepto, first aide supplies, other
  12. Paper – tissue, t.p., napkins, paper plates, cups, Ziploc bags, glad bags, other
  13. Soap- hand soap, body wash, Dove product’s, Olay products, Shampoo with 2 full sheets,
  14. Personal care- deodorant, feminine, razors, shave gel,
  15. Toothpaste- Colgate, crest, kids, mouthwash, toothbrush,
  16. Make up- cover girl, olay, Revlon, maybelline, other, skin care, lotion, chap stick,
  17. Dish soap- liquid, powdered, laundry soap and products,
  18. Home- other cleaners, carpet, floor, window, Clorox, Lysol, bathroom, glade, air wick, oust, febreze,
  19. Pets- food, care, other
  20. Batteries

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33 comments
Roger1976
Roger1976

This is probably the most comprehensive extreme couponing guide I have read and
 I work for a coupon site (http://couponlawn.com) so that is saying a little lot. Now, our writers definitely need to step up their game.

EricaG90
EricaG90

I also feel overwhelmed! I have so many questions and no answers! Maybe someone can help!... Firstly, right now i have about 8 coupons saved up for: $4 off any 2 pantene shampoo or conditioner...does that mean i get 16 bottles of shampoo and conditioner then? Another, i have many glade coupons but they all say 1 coupon per purchase per customer, so does that mean if i get 10 wax melts i have to do 10 different transactions!?!?!?!?

MargaretMBaez
MargaretMBaez

have you heard of or tried the new dollar general digital coupons? or the grocery iq app? they are both powered by coupons.com which has an app as well. is it possible to print coupons from each app/site and use them all together? 

AshleyHolle
AshleyHolle

I' wanting to get into couponing but, it all seems so overwhelming! I've read tips on "how to do it" but, it still seems overwhelming........ If anyone could help with telling me  what the basics are, that would b great! Thank you. 

April
April

wow this is SUPER helpful! Thanks a ton!!

 

Jenn Tisdel
Jenn Tisdel

Thanks for the great couponing 101 tips! Couponing takes time, but sure does save money : )

Heather @ CreativeFamilyMoments
Heather @ CreativeFamilyMoments

I really like this one. I couldn't get into the card collection sheets either. But the zip up binder and photo sheets... ah, that makes sense to me!

virannaca
virannaca

i was wondering where i could get these coupons, i see this all the time we get our groceries at walmart i want to learn to coupon and save big money. please help thanks.

Cindra
Cindra

Just read your Couponing 101 and going to give it a try. Husband freaked out when we watched Extreme Couponing and is ready to dive in. Thank you for the advice.

Katie
Katie

I've been couponing for years and I must be missing something since I do not see so many of the free(after coupons) items and they are usually limited. My local grocery store does double coupons up to a $1 and once in awhile has 5 triple coupons in their flyer. I will be looking for more of your tips. One tip that has worked for me, is that I organize my coupons in a plastic (food container with lid). I made file tabs that fit the size of the container. I color coded the tabs by categories. Once a month, I go through the entire box and look for expired or near expiring coupons and file new coupons continually. This box fits in the child seat of the grocery cart and is easily available for use in the store. I also keep the coupon box in the trunk of my car along with the reuseable grocery bags so it is always available whenever I shop. I started couponing in graduate school many years ago and have now passed along this practice to my grown children.

stacey
stacey

The word hoarder comes to me. No way what so ever do you need 100 tooth brushes and the stock pile was way out of control.The last guy said he was going to donate but we never saw it and by the looks of his stock pile I dont think he did .They seem to have no self control some of them were out of shape bringing in 216 boxes of noodles he called it junk with sweat all over him from bringing it up the stairs it took control over the whole house. I like life family vacations movies and books not just grocery stores and coupons they need an intervention another hobby.They give us a bad name I almost wanted to turn the t.v off .If the camera crew was not recording I am sure alot of comments would have been made we have all seen the checkers look at us even customers with our binders this show gives us all a bad name.

Rhonda
Rhonda

I was appalled at the actions of the extreme couponers. Leave items for other people. One question--don't most store have a limit of how many coupons you can use total and how many of the same you can use? I just started couponing 3mos ago, and their mega purchases just didn't ring true to me? Also, are there that many things you can actually get for free? I mean, we only use charmin tp and the coupons for that are very stingy. Maybe if we tried a different brand, we could get tp cheaper? Anyway, thought the show portrayed couponers in a bad light, but llluuuuvvvv your website.

Laura
Laura

Hi Sarah! I already get 5 press tribune papers but I was actually thinking of getting 10. Should I get 5 more of the press tribune or should I get 5 of the statesmen? Do they have different inserts? Also, do you have to prepay for the statesmen, or can you do just a monthly thing? 10 papers scares me!!! That is a lot of cutting, especially this Sunday with 10 inserts!!

LINDA
LINDA

I ENJOYED THE SHOW AS THAT WAS MY NEW YEARS RESOLUTION, TO START USING COUPONS. I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THO, THE FIRST LADY THAT HAD THE THREE ROOMS STOCKPILED FULL.DOES SHE NOT DONATE ANY TO ANY HOMELESS SHELTERS? THINK OF HOW MUCH SHE COULD HELP THEM. IT WAS RIDICULOUS! HOARDER

Michele
Michele

Thanks for the info. Like others on here, we watched the episode last night. I'm going to challenge myself to how much we can start saving at the store. We're on the fence as to whether or not we can financially continue to send our kids to Catholic school. This may be our answer!

Jamie
Jamie

Hello, I loved your show and I can not believe how much people saved. My question for you is how do you get the bulk of items when most coupons say you can only use one. How do you get around that. Thanks for your tips

lisa
lisa

I love your site and all your tips and am very happy that you encourage others to consider other shoppers unlike the TLC show last evening I could not believe how much stuff they were buying and how they were clearing the shelfs for other shoppers. People who buy massive amounts of something and clear the shelfs are forcing people who really need that item to find another brand and pay full price. I totally agree with having a stock pile that can sustain you for about a year, but really who needs to buy over 100 toothbrushes a one time. Again thank you for all you do and your beliefs!

Marie
Marie

Hello, I appreciate you sharing all the info. I saw the show yesterday (extreme couponing) and I was floored. I could not believe that you could save that much money with coupons! I have a question though. So many coupons say that they can't be used in conjunction with other offers. How do you get around that?

Molly
Molly

Thanks for your info! I thought the show (especially the first girl Amanda) was pathetic. I was ashamed to see that. She is clearly obsessed and using her couponing for no good, but to fill three rooms in her house.

Jennifer Rawles
Jennifer Rawles

Love the Show And LOVE your site!!! I come by your site at least 4 times a day to see what is new...My husband thought I was crazy when I started to coupon but now he is like WOW!!! Thank you so much for all the info you have provided it has helped us save money in hard times and good times. Bless you Sarah.

Lori
Lori

I was soooo far in debt that I could not see any way out except through prayer. I would keep praying that God show me a way out of this mess as I could not cut anymore corners except with the food budget; and that was squeeky tight already. I just came to my computer one night and prayed again in complete faithfulness and I just googled coupons. I scrolled through a couple of the listings and found yours. You are a true Godsend. We are now fluorishing and seeing a little room in the budget now. Thank you and may God continue to bless your family.

Amy B.
Amy B.

we watched the show too. I got pretty upset with a few of them because only the last guy on there mentioned anything about helping others. I felt the first lady there had a real hoarding problem..... well, anyway we discussed your blog quite a bit while watching the show and how you really set the best standards for super couponing with all the stuff you share and now clearing the shelves, after a while I just wondered if the show kind of pushed these people to show off their stock pile..... well I hoped anyway i mean even deoderant has an expiration date!! WELL I AM SURE PEOPLE LEARNED SOME THINGS FROM THE SHOW, but I was hoping for a list of websites and they didn't share any.

Alissa D
Alissa D

This is absolutely great. Thanks so much for Mom's like you. I haven't tried it but this week I plan to give it a go! What a way to start the New Year huh? Saving, saving, saving! Thanks and God bless!

sewsara
sewsara

Sarah! How funny, I was just watching this show on TLC and it inspired me to come to your site (I apologize I haven't kept up lately!!) and what's the first thing I see but this TLC post ... are you watching? This is the first time I've seen the show ... is it new, I assume?? :)

Anel
Anel

just wanted to thank you for all the info you share, I learned how to coupon from you at the beginning of this year. your story really inspired us to start couponing our way out of debt ourselves. We are saving so much money that we've managed to get rid of one car loan and 1 credit car. My husband tells me he wishes I had learned to do this since we got married and we'd be living debt-free by now. seriously, thank you so much!!!

Valerie
Valerie

That is a ton of information for a beginner! But very detailed. Thank you very much!

Marilyn
Marilyn

thanks for the info!

A Thrifty Mom
A Thrifty Mom

Laura, The Statesman does require you to pre-pay...and you only get the athriftymom deal for the pieroid you pre pay for.....but they do get GM coupon inserts which the Tribune does not get. The Statesman also gets a few more coupons each week in the Smart source. Both are good deals, just what fits you best. I get 10 papers but I also have a family of 6....works great for me, but do what is best for your family. best of luck

A Thrifty Mom
A Thrifty Mom

Jamie most coupons say one coupon per purchase....not transactions. So if you buy 5 soap or in other words PURCHASE 5 then you can use 5 soap coupons.... one coupon per soap.

A Thrifty Mom
A Thrifty Mom

yeah first show today, but i think it is a one time thing...