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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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

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4 sldyrval October 16, 2015 at 7:41 am

Hello Sarah,
My class is trying to get a hold of people with experiences  with couponing and would like to know if you are in the Port Huron through Marine City area. We are doing a project in Algebra 2, 2nd hour on couponing and we think it would be a great opportunity to see if someone in the area could talk to us about couponing and how it works.Thank You.


5 cecreev January 16, 2015 at 5:08 am

I totally agree!  I have read thru many blogs to learn how to do this and this is the first one that made sense the first time I read it thru!  Thank you so much for the enlightenment. I, honesty, feel like I am somewhat prepared to do this now.


6 Roger1976 November 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

This is probably the most comprehensive extreme couponing guide I have read and


7 EricaG90 August 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm

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!?!?!?!?


8 MargaretMBaez August 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm

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?


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10 TheresaPalmer May 16, 2014 at 9:04 am
11 AshleyHolle October 28, 2013 at 9:27 am

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.


12 aliceannable October 4, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I have access to lots of coupons from the newspaper and very overwhelmed. hope this helps. thank you


13 imtheone September 22, 2013 at 6:35 am

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14 Marion July 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Thank you so much for explaining couponing! I just started using coupons and your site has been really helpful.


15 Bren July 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Wow! Super helpful! Thanks so much! 😀


16 BostonMom May 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I am trying so hard at this and I think I am spending MORE money than if I didn’t use flyers and match up coupons. My question for you is, Do you clip the “$1.00 off of 2” coupons? I think this is where I am getting tripped up.


17 Curtman40 March 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Wow this is a great listing thanks again for posting, I am constantly looking for ways to save a dollar.


18 April February 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

wow this is SUPER helpful! Thanks a ton!!