What I’ve Learned from Extreme Couponing

9 Apr

Though he would be loathe to admit it, I have, on occasion, caught my handsome man watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing on TV.  And I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I have plopped down next to him on the couch and watched, too.

I am in awe of these shoppers.  Though I shake my head at the lady buying 20 Norelco electric razors, (does she sell them on ebay?) I still respect the idea of saving coupons, keeping tabs on sales and making an honest effort to stretch the almighty dollar as far as it will go.

This show has inspired me to start couponing.  I am FAR from being an extreme couponer, and never aspire to be (I don’t have that kind of time, energy or SPACE!).  However, I learned some tricks that have been extremely useful in the couple of months I have been trying this.  (After reading this post, check out Extreme Couponing Tricks for Normal People.)

First, I made a deal with myself to ONLY purchase items I would ordinarily purchase.  I am allowed to switch brands, or try something new, but I am NOT allowed to buy items just because I have a coupon.  I also cannot overstock my house with bulk purchases, there simply isn’t enough room.

Then I specifically went searching online for printable coupons for brands I am fiercely loyal to; Oil of Olay, Almay, Maybelline, Arm & Hammer, Head and Shoulders, etc.  Since I was already adept at searching for coupons and coupon codes on sites like Retailmenot, this came fairly easily.  I don’t take the Sunday paper, so that option isn’t available to me unless I go out and purchase a paper (which, I admit, I have now done, as well.)

There are few different ways to search online for coupons.

1. Go directly to a manufacturer’s website and see what coupons and promotions they offer.  Many will make you sign up, sign in, or provide some sort of information.  This is where an email address created specifically to handle “junk” mail comes in handy.  For example, we like to use a specific brand of kitty litter.  I went to the manufacturer’s website, signed up, and received a MANUFACTURER’S coupon for my next litter purchase.

2.  Search for printable coupons using Google or other search engine, and visit  sites such as Retailmenot, Coupons.com, Coupon Network, an, SmartSource,  Save.com are the ones I’ve been frequenting.  Many blogs will post links to coupons, as well.

3. Visit store websites for stores you patronize.  Many offer STORE coupons (more on these later.)  For example, Target and Walgreens both offer store coupons.  They are specific to a certain item, but unlike manufacturer’s coupons, they are also specific to that store.  In fact, I just stumbled on one for ULTA which I may try.

Now that you have searched for and hopefully clipped some coupons, you have barely touched the tip of the iceberg!  Here are some of the tips I’ve learned from Extreme Couponers (EC-ers.)

If the website will allow, print multiple copies of each coupon.  Most stores will let you redeem up to four of the exact same coupon in one transaction.  This comes in handy when there is a “Buy 2 for $” offer.  For example, I recently bought Head and Shoulders on a 2 for $10 sale.  One $1.00 coupon is great, but 2 are better!  So my Head and Shoulders were 2 for $8, or only $4 each.

Combine your STORE coupons with your MANUFACTURER’S coupons for maximum savings.

For example,

Target has a sale on Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, for $4.24.  Target has issued a coupon for $1 off any Maybelline product, and there was a $1 off a Maybelline eye product online.  Use both coupons on one product and you get name brand mascara for $2.21.  That’s almost half off!

Utilize store loyalty programs.  For example, Walgreens and CVS BOTH have rewards cards which offer special sales, coupons and discounts to card holders.  Additionally, they will often advertise something called “register rewards” (each store has a different name for these) where you get store credit for future purchases.

Using a combination of store coupons, manufacturer coupons and register rewards, I have been able to purchase make up, health & beauty products, even food for close to nothing….sometimes I just have to pay tax!

So what exactly is an “Extreme Coupon” deal?  My definition is where you either get the item for FREE or you receive cash back/store credit to “take” the item from the store!  For example:

Thermacare Heat Wraps on sale for $3.49 at CVS.  CVS gives you $3.49 in register rewards (RR) after purchasing the product.  The product would essentially be FREE.  Even better:  apply the $3.00 off coupon you receive after signing up for the Thermacare mailing list on their website.  So you pay $.49 for the product, but receive $3.49 back in RR, netting you a $3.00 profit!  You can turn around and use that $3.00 in register rewards on a purchase of most anything in the store (I know alcohol is excluded.)

I’ll be posting periodically about my ECing escapades, so keep an eye out for more ideas on saving $$$$!

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