Welcome to the Extreme Couponing beginners guide where I will show you how you can become a strategic shopper/couponer. The term extreme couponing doesn't mean that you go out there and buy all the stuff that's on sale. Extreme Couponing simply means buying whatever it is you need, while saving an EXTREME amount of money by using real coupon methods that have been proven to save some good money. You'll just have to put in some extra time doing the research and developing the methods, but after that you're on your way to become a coupon master.
I always do coupon research before I buy anything. Especially online. There are dozens of online websites listing real valuable coupons, which you can't find anywhere else.
You can easily save up to a few hundred and sometimes even thousands of dollars per year by simply paying attention and doing your homework finding the deals. You just have to know how to approach, so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Let's have a look at our "How To" Extreme Couponing Guide.
The Extreme Couponing Step-By-Step Guide
1. You Have To Know Where To Find Coupons.
This is your very first step. You have to know where to find your store's coupons. There are a few ways which could provide you with coupons, so let's have a look.
- Printable Coupons: These are coupons you can find all over the web, which you can print out and use in the store.
- E-coupons: These are coupons that will be loaded into your store loyalty card if you have one.
- Magazines: Good old fashioned magazines will always carry coupons.
There are a few more methods you can find coupons through, but I'd say these are the 3 most common ones.
2. You Have To Know When To Use Your Coupons
Knowing when to use your coupons will get you the furthest. Stores can be sneaky by having certain items be on sale for the day, so let's have a look at how you can approach this.
- Buy when the price is lowest: If you wait for a sale, you'll be able to get the item at its lowest price with a coupon.
- Wait for a sale: If you for some reason don't have access to coupons, but know something will be on sale tomorrow, go back to the store to get it then.
- Follow the sale cycles: Stores will have sale cycles usually between 8 and 12 weeks. Also pay attention to holiday and special occasion cycles such as Christmas, SuperBowl, etc.
What you'll also want to do is find out what items are on sale on what day in your local store you visit the most. Stores usually have a weekly sale schedule. Make sure to double check this with your store.
3. You Have To Know How To Use Your Coupons.
Did you know some stores will allow you to bring in competitor coupons? Not all of them, but it's worth asking!
- Double Coupons: You have to know if you are able to use the same type of coupon multiple times on one item.
- Competitor Coupons: Find out if you can use a competitor's coupon in your favorite store.
4. When You Buy, Stock Up!
Now, stocking up doesn't mean turning your house into a legitimate store, but you can stock up for a month or even two months. Some people go even up to six months. I'd say a typical stockpile will exist of products that you can store on 3-4 shelves.
Stocking up on sale items is a pretty important when it comes to extreme couponing. It's part of getting the most savings at the grocery store. Lets say you or you loves eating chocolate cookies, and you were able to purchase a box for just $1. After 1 week, those cookies would be gone. When you go back to the store the next week, you’ll need to buy another set of chocolate cookies. Except now, it’s no longer on sale. When you buy the cookies now, you end up paying $4.99 or maybe even $3.99 if you happen to have another coupon. That is still quite a big difference from the $1 you bought the week before at. Now, lets say you bought 5 sets of chocolate cookies at the sale price of $1 (after coupons). Now, you aren't forced to pay a higher price for that product let's say next week, since you have enough to get you through a a few weeks and maybe even a few months.
5. You Have To Know The Coupon Language.
There are quite some coupon terms out there that can be very confusing. I've made a list for you so you can be fully prepared and know what everyone's talking about when you go on your extreme couponing frenzy.
The list you'll find below contains some of the most common terms and definitions that you'll run into while searching for coupons on the internet or in stores.
B1G1/BOGO: Buy 1, Get 1 Free
BOGO 50%: Buy 1 Get 1 50% off
CDB – Coupon Database
CS: Customer Service
DND: Do Not Double
ECB: Extra Care Bucks from CVS
ETS: Excludes trial/travel size
HBA: Health and Beauty Aids
HTH: Hope that helps
IP: Internet printed coupon
ISO: In Search Of…
MB2: Must buy 2
MFG/MFR: Manufacturer coupon
MIR: Mail in rebate
MM: Money Maker
MQ: Manufacturer’s Coupon
NLA: No longer available
OOP: Out of pocket
OOS: Out of stock
OYNO: On your next order
PG: Procter & Gamble insert
PP: Price plus from ShopRite
PSA: Prices Start At
RC: Rain Check
RP: RedPlum Insert
RR: Register Rewards (Walgreens)
SCO: Self Check Out
SCR: Single check rebate (Rite Aid)
SS: SmartSource Insert
SYWR: Rewards program at Sears/Kmart
UPC: Universal Product Code
WYB: When you buy
YMMV: Your mileage may vary (when talking about your particular store as compared to another store)
$1/2: $1 off 2 items
Catalina: They are coupons that print out at the register after your sale is complete. It is a separate machine that is just for printing out coupons or dollars off.
Blinkie: Red Smart Source machines found in most stores
Peelie: Coupons that peel off packages
Rolling: Using rewards earned in one transaction to pay for another transaction
Stacking: Use of manufacturer AND store coupons on the same item
Tearpad: Coupon pads located in stores to promote products
6. Important Things To Know About Coupons!
1. Don't Copy Coupons: This is against the law and is considered to be fraud.
2. Fraudulent Coupons: Check at Cents-off if you've received a coupon in the mail, but aren't sure if it's legit or not. They have a list of coupons that have been reported as fraudulent. If you have received a fraudulent coupon, don't use it and throw it out.
3. Use The Coupon How It Is Intended: If for example the coupon is for $1/1 off for PRODUCT A, don’t try to use it on PRODUCT B. If it states “ANY STORE HOUSE PRODUCT” then you are free to use it on any of their STORE HOUSE PRODUCTS.
4: Pay Attention To Product Size Vs. Coupon: If there are no size restrictions or it states “on any”, you can use it for any size in that product including trial or travel size.
4. One Per Purchase: A lot of consumers and cashiers think that this means you may only use 1 coupon per trip. What it actually means, is that you can use one coupon per item purchased. So, if you were buying 5 packs of cookies, you can use 5 $1/1 coupons which work on that product.
5. Coupon Value: Pay attention to the value of the coupon. If it states $1/1, you can use it to take $1.00 off 1 product. If it states $1/2, you can use it to take $1 off 2 products. So, for the $1/2 coupon you can only use one for 2 products.
When you follow these steps you'll have a good shot at saving a good amount of money each time you go out shopping. I'm not a super extreme shopper, but you can definitely save a ton of money if you do your research first.
I always look for coupons when I buy online. I'll keep an eye out for coupons and deals when I'm actually in the store itself. I personally don't look into magazines or other paper column which could have coupons. Nowadays, you can almost find anything on the internet.
I don't buy the some product from a different brand, just because one is a dollar cheaper. If you've read my other post, you'll know I'm pretty set on living on organic foods and products. So if I see something I like, while another brand has the same product at a discount, I'll check what's actually in the product before I make the purchase. My health is still more important then saving a dollar.
Some people go absolutely crazy with extreme couponing. I think there can be a healthy balance here and you actually can save a ton of money by simply doing your research and paying attention to where and when the deals are. The more you practice extreme couponing, the more you'll get familiar with the products, the daily deals, etc.
I'd love to hear about your extreme couponing experience? Is this completely new to you or have you been extreme couponing for a while?