Extreme Coupons 101 in 2015
Extreme Couponing 101
Were you thinking "Yeah right...that's just TV I can't do that?" You couldn't be more wrong. This guide is 100% free and I hope you take the tips and tools from it to start couponing on your own. If you haven't seen the show, it is a must watch. There aren't too many tips in the show on HOW to be a couponer, but it will at least give you an idea of what to expect. Keep reading to become a coupon diva!
What you need to get started
* Time (Time is relative)
Why do I need 1,500 tubes of toothpaste??
It only took me 3 weeks to start seeing the savings that they were on the show. Of course I don't need 1,500 tubes of toothpaste, but I do need 30 which is a couple years supply. And I got all of them for free. Deodorant, razors, paper towels...all non perishables I have YEARS supply of. Have you ever noticed that when you run out of something you really need (deodorant!) you stop at the closest place on your way to work and pay $4? Yeah, no more of that. The thing about couponing and stockpiling is getting it for free and having it when you need it so you never have to impulse shop.
Couponing is awesome for people on a strict budget (me!). I can't afford to pay $1.50 for a roll of paper towels. If it weren't for couponing, I wouldn't even buy paper towels...it would be rags all the way (been there, done that!) It's nice to know that I planned ahead and bought all the paper towels I will need for the next year or so. It is just one less hassle to my already stressful life. AND I got them for free...what beats that? Ok, enough about WHY you need to coupon...if you are here, you probably already know the benefits.
How to get started
You absolutely need a binder, the baseball card insert sheets, envelopes and a sunday newspaper subscription...or friends/family that don't use their Sunday coupon inserts Seriously, don't overlook them! The more coupon inserts, the more you are going to save. And it shocks me how many people just throw away their coupons without even looking at them...that is money in the trash! I have neighbors on both sides of me that donate their coupons to me. You could get just one newspaper subscription and get a roll of paper towels for free each week...but that would take you a lifetime and it's really not worth it. That's why people don't see the benefit of couponing. They think "oh, a free roll of paper towels...not worth my time" They are right. Each source that you get a coupon from is a free paper towel roll. Friends and family are not the only sources. Your local recycling bin is a gold mine....more on that later.
Take your binder and put the baseball card inserts in it. This is where you will keep random coupons...maybe you find a coupon that you know you could use but don't have 10+ of them. Or maybe you see something you like/need but you want to wait until it goes on sale. This binder comes with you everytime you shop. There will also be pockets on the inside cover and backside cover. This is where you will store your envelopes.
Sources of coupons
The more coupons you get, the more you will save and stockpile. Going to the store each week for 1 free roll of paper towels is not worth it. I have better things to do with my time. But if I have 10 coupons for those free paper towels, it's definitely worth it. There are multiple places to get coupons. You COULD buy multiple newspapers...but I find that to be expensive. So I take the coupons that are donated to me and I also hit up the recycling center. The nice thing about recycling newspapers is that they generally have their own bin. There is no nasty food items, tin cans etc. It will be a giant section for strictly newspapers. I'm telling you, it's a gold mine!
My other source, which I know is unique to me, is my husband who is a recycle driver. Every day at work he will pick off inserts that are on the top of the bin. I would have to say this is now where I get a majority of my coupons. It's funny because I joke with my husband that my dream guy has always been a recycle driver!
Couponing requires you to be mildly organized. I do mean mildly. The absolute most important part of the organization is seperating and filing the Sunday newspaper inserts. There are generally 3 types of inserts. Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Proctor and Gamble (P&G). You want to organize the three of those inserts in stacks (or if you are a super organized person, in a filing cabinet) The three inserts are to be organized by date. If you are mildly organized, that means you stack the SS coupons in one pile BY DATE. So the oldest SS insert is on the bottom. And you stack the newest ones on top. so you have your three piles (SS, RP and P&G) stacked from oldest to newest.
Why organize them
You want your coupons to be organized because you are going to go to various websites that are going to tell you about an incredible deal. A favorite coupon site is going to say, "Hey, Walmart is selling Bounty paper towels for $1. SS 9/25/11 has a coupon for $.99 off Bounty paper towels". So you will go to your SS stack and find that date for the SS coupon and pull it. If you just have your coupons in one large stack, it's going to take you forever to find that coupon. And time is something that very few of us have. You want to go to that stack, pull those coupons and stick them in the Walmart envelope for shopping later that week. The envelopes go into the binder that you take with you every time you shop.
So now you have your Walmart trip planned out for the paper towels. Hopefully, you found multiple sources of coupons and have a bunch to use for that shopping trip. But because you have your binder with you, you can still peruse the aisles looking for good deals with the coupons you put into the baseball inserts. I use the binder constantly. Maybe I'm making dinner that night and realize I need some Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup. I have my binder with me and can quickly find that coupon I stuck in there.
Some stores double coupons everyday up to .98. Yes, you can get a good deal with this but it is unlikely. Generally, the only stores that participate in this are the ones who mark their prices sky high. So doubling the coupon only means that you are paying what you would at walmart. It's "Super double coupon day" where you will make the most of your couponing. The difference between double coupon day and super double coupon day is that the store will now double the coupon up to $1.99. This is significant. If you've couponed at all, you will see that there is seldom a coupon for $1 off. The vast majority of coupons are $.99 off. So if your store doubles coupons up to .98, all of your .99 coupons will not double. Which means that the majority of coupons you will use is for .75 cents off. On super double coupon day, all of your .99 coupons WILL double. The super double coupon days are the times I have had $300 purchases come down to pennies.
No stores around me double coupons
That's ok. You can still score good deals...just not as much or significant as super double coupon day. Generally speaking, you are going to save 50% or more even at stores that do not double. The Walmarts by me have NEVER doubled coupons, but I still find great (and free!) deals there because Walmarts prices are so low.
The best way to stretch a coupon and your dollar is by stacking. Stacking is very important. Many stores have "store coupons" which are different than manufacturer coupons. You can't use two manufacturer coupons on 1 item. But you could stack a store coupon with a manufacture coupon. If you stack a store coupon with a manufacture coupon on a day the product is on sale, BIG SCORE FOR YOU. One time I used a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon for a product that was on sale at Target and used my red card (5% off). That was a killer deal.
I talked before about organization. To get "started" with extreme couponing, you only need to be mildly organized by putting the 3 inserts in stacks by date. When you are first starting you don't have that many coupons so this is fine. But 6 months to a year down the line, that is a heck of a lot of coupons. With all the extra money you have been saving, you now need to splurge on a filing cabinet. I have a very large filing cabinet that fits my needs. However many coupons you have is going to determine how large a cabinet you need. Before I met my husband, I had a basic sized filing cabinet. But now that he gives me so many coupons each day, I've upgraded to a HUGE cabinet. I have 20-30 coupon inserts of each type by each week. So a rough math estimate for a one month period on the high end is about 360 inserts per month. I've organized my cabinet by week and type. There is a folder for each week labeled with the date. Within each week section is two folders one labeled smart source and one for red plum. Plus one folder per month for P&G. This makes it extremely quick and efficient to find what I need. Though I must warn you. Do NOT go too long without filing. I went nearly a month out of laziness and was just stacking the new coupons in one pile. This resulted in hours of filing for me when I did it all at once. Much easier to take the 30 seconds to file them as you get them.
Should you "steal" peelies?
What is a peelie? Peelies are coupons stuck onto products at stores. There is HUGE controversy on whether you should "steal" a peelie. I'd like to address the stealing part first. I do not feel steal is the correct word as that is something that is illegal. Peelies are free. Peelies are put on products by the manufacturer to entice you to by their BRAND. Not that specific item. As you will notice when you start to coupon, the grand majority of peelies state the coupon can be used on a different product. Maybe its stuck on a specific loaf of bread but states the coupon is good on ANY of their bread products. So in theory, you could take the peelie off the white bread and then buy the wheat bread instead. Very few of them state it must be used on that specific item. But now the plot thickens. Lets say you see a coupon on the load of bread but that bread is not currently on sale. Maybe you want to hold onto that peelie until the bread is on sale? Is it wrong to take a few peelies and put them in your binder for future use? In my opinion, HECK NO IT ISN'T! In the minds of others it is though. What I have a problem with is those that take ALL of the peelies. That's just bad taste if you ask me. Or really just taking more peelies than you are even going to use. If you don't need 10 loaves of bread, don't take 10 peelies.