Couponing is one way to get goods for a fraction of the actual price, and many people have discovered that by using coupons, they can save themselves a lot of money.
With rising prices and inflation, it makes sense that the couponing trend has taken off, with some people going beyond just using a coupon now and again into the world of extreme couponing.
Learning how extreme couponing can minimize your daily and monthly expenses, especially for groceries and personal care items. In this blog, we will give you some tips and tricks on how to take your couponing to the next level.
What is Couponing and How Do You Do It?
Couponing is when you use coupons to reduce the price of an item on the shelf.
Various types of coupons are available, including physical, printable, online, store, and manufacturer coupons. These coupon codes can be found in newspapers, store flyers, manufacturer websites, or a range of other places.
Most couponers say that they can save about 40% on their daily spending by using what is freely available.
Couponing vs. Extreme Couponing
While people who engage in couponing or extreme couponing typically follow the same steps, extreme couponers will usually buy as much as they can of low-priced items, whether or not they need these items. In contrast, regular coupon users tend only to buy what they need.
People who do extreme couponing then might on-sell these items or donate them to local community organizations. Extreme couponers also tend to stockpile items based on their coupons, while regular coupon users will only buy what they need at that time.
As you can imagine, extreme couponing takes up an enormous amount of time, and in fact, some people do extreme couponing in place of a regular job.
How did Extreme Couponing start?
Extreme couponing began when several savvy shoppers realized how much they could save and even earn just by using their coupons cleverly. TLC then premiered a show called Extreme Couponing, in which shoppers used their skills to save on big shopping sprees.
These shoppers shared their tips and tricks on how people could use coupons to get the best deals, spearheading a curiosity in extreme couponing around the world and the birth of a new trend.
What are the reasons why people do Extreme Coupon?
The main reason people extreme coupon is to save money on their grocery and household shopping. Some people also do it to get goods to give back to people in need or local charities.
As mentioned, some people also turn to extreme couponing as a way of life and sell the products they buy for more, ultimately making money and a living from extreme couponing.
Unfortunately, some people also do extreme coupon as they tend to hoard or stockpile, which is one way to feed the habit. These people end up spending more than they save in the long run.
How to Start Extreme Couponing?
If you have the time to dedicate to extreme couponing, want to save a lot of money, and even do some good for your community, then it’s time to take your couponing to the next level. Here are some steps for you to follow to start extreme couponing.
1. Search for the best deals
When looking for the best deals, be sure you check all varieties of coupons. You’ll want to be collecting cash-off coupons, as well as percent discounts and manufacturer’s coupons. That way, if the store allows, you can mix and match coupons to increase your savings.
If you find a great deal, be sure to get multiple copies of that coupon to maximize your savings.
There are several places that you can search for coupons, including local newspapers, magazines, weekly advertisements, in-store flyers, coupon booklets, coupon printers in-store, email newsletters, in the store isles, at the register, on your till slips, on product packaging, on store apps, on manufacturer websites, and couponing websites or apps.
2. Utilize technology to get more savings
There are a variety of helpful websites and apps out there that will help you increase the number of coupons you can find.
Alongside online clipping websites, you can also download apps, like the Flipp app, that allow you to browse weekly flyers from your local stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Dollar General.
These apps provide you with a convenient tool for searching for and saving coupons, but they are also a great way to compare products and price matches without physically going into different stores.
Some great apps and websites will help you stay organized and provide valuable functions for arranging and searching through your various coupons.
3. Compare warehouse prices with grocery store prices
Instead of buying products individually at a grocery store, you can get them cheaper when buying in bulk at a warehouse store like Sam’s club or Costco.
It’s worth taking a few of your regular grocery till slips along when you go to a warehouse store so that you can work out if buying an item in bulk works out cheaper than just purchasing the individual product as and when you need it.
4. Know the Manufacturer’s Coupon Policies
Most grocery stores do allow you to use a store and a manufacturer coupon on a single item, but it’s worth checking the policies on each coupon before you try to use them.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers limit extreme couponing by restricting the number of products you can buy with one coupon and how many coupons you can use in one trip.
Be sure to check out product websites for manufacturer’s coupons, or don’t be shy to write to your favorite products hoping they will gift you with a coupon. They might even give you free samples of other products you haven’t tried.
5. Decide what stores you’ll focus on
You won’t be able to be everywhere and do everything, so try and focus on a few specific stores to get the most return for the time you spend couponing.
Once you have selected the shops you want to save at, it will be easier to stay updated on their weekly flyers, online offerings, and app discounts.
This way, you can also use any store rewards on future purchases, and your weekly or monthly shopping trips will be easier to organize.
That said, don’t limit yourself to only one store on one specific day. Most extreme couponers shop at multiple stores multiple times to ensure they get the best deal on a particular product.
6. Understand your store’s sales cycle
As you get to know your local stores better, you will start to see a cycle to store sales. Most stores typically put certain items on sale at a specific time each month, and there might also be seasonal sales at Christmas time or just before schools reopen.
You can save even more by coinciding your coupon use with store sales cycles.
7. Know the store’s coupon policy ahead of time
You can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by getting familiar with the coupon policy of the stores you shop at. Knowing if your store allows multiple coupon use or coupon stacking will help you understand your savings better.
If your local store only allows one coupon per item or transaction, you may want to consider shopping at another store with more flexible coupon policies.
8. Have multiple store accounts
You may be able to increase your savings by opening up multiple accounts with the same store. This way, you will get access to good coupons more than once and can use different accounts at different branches to access the coupon again and again.
9. Sign up for stores’ loyalty program
Stores often send out exclusive coupons and deals to anyone that has signed up for their loyalty program. Loyalty programs sometimes offer a reward card or credit card, which offers further savings when used in-store. These rewards can include an additional discount on your card, real cash back, or savings on other essentials like fuel.
10. Start a stockpile
Extreme couponers are known for stockpiling products. Stockpiling is one of the best ways to save as you can buy multiples of a product when it is already on sale and further reduce the price through coupons. This allows you to essentially dictate the price you will pay for a product rather than just buying it when you need it at the price on the day.
When it comes to stockpiling, you want to stick to non-perishable items like toilet paper, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, and washing powder.
11. Look for unadvertised deals
Not all deals are advertised; that is why you can’t solely rely on checking the weekly newspapers and store flyers. You’ll also want to head into the store regularly as sometimes you might find deals on products you regularly buy or special buy one get one free deal that are only advertised on the shelf.
12. Check the clearance aisles and marked-down carts
Whenever you go into a store, be sure to check the marked-down carts and the clearance aisles. You might get lucky and have a coupon for a product that’s already been marked down, allowing you to double up on the money saved.
You might even get lucky and end up getting that product for free or end up with an overage where you can get cash or store credit back, essentially meaning you earn money for shopping.
13. Make multiple transactions
Some coupons and stores only allow one coupon to be used per transaction. Fortunately, nothing is stopping you from making multiple transactions.
If you plan to stockpile items, you’ll likely have to do multiple transactions to maximize your savings.
14. Use a Coupon Clipping Service
While you can manually clip your coupons, this is a very time-consuming process. Instead, try using an online clipping website, like coupons.com, where you can find and easily store all your coupons in one place.
Coupon clipping services also allow you to access coupons from other parts of the country, and you’ll also save money on multiple newspaper subscriptions.
How Do Extreme Couponers Use Coupons to Save Big?
Extreme couponers have many techniques up their sleeve to save big. These savvy shoppers employ several strategies to save money and find the best deals. Below are a few of the tricks commonly used in extreme couponing.
- Take Advantage of Overage Opportunities: Overages happen when the coupons have exceeded the price of the product. This can occur when you use both a manufacturer and a store coupon, use coupons on sale or price match items, or use coupons with other “buy one get one free” offers. Overages can be paid out in cash, given as store credit, or deducted from the rest of your cart.
- Stack Coupons with Store Sales: Finding products that are already on sale and using a coupon to pay for these products is a great way to maximize your savings. To capitalize on this, it’s best not to be too brand loyal.
- Stacking Manufacturer Coupons With Store Coupons for Heavier Discounts: Coupon stacking is one of the top ways extreme couponers save big. Coupon stacking aims to use as many coupons as possible on one product to reduce the retail price. One of the best and easiest ways is to combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons.
- Doubling Coupons: Some stores have double or triple days where they will double your coupon value, which means you get double the discount on these days. Be sure to keep up to date with your local store’s policies so that you can plan your shopping in advance.
- Doubling and Stacking Coupons: Stacking manufacturer and store coupons on sale items on a double value day is a great way to get an overage. Once again, make sure you are clued up on the store policies to see what is possible. Sometimes the cashiers aren’t that knowledgeable of store policies, so it’s a good idea to keep a copy on hand if you encounter any problems.
- Stacking for Overages: As mentioned, overages occur when your coupons exceed the value of a product. The holy grail of store policies allows coupon stackages and payouts for overages. This means you get real money back so that you begin to make a profit from couponing.
- Combine Buy One Get One Free Deals with Coupons: Some stores allow you to stack buy one, get one free deals with coupons. This means along with getting one item for free; you also get a percentage off the other item. This is an excellent tool for additional savings.
- Advanced BOGO Stacking for Free or Almost-Free Buys: When extreme couponers use the term BOGO, they refer to buy one, get one free offers. These sometimes come in the form of coupons or are occasionally in-store offers that can be combined with coupons to get a virtually-free purchase.
- Use Rebate Apps: Rebate apps allow you to earn cashback rewards when you buy certain products. These apps generally link to store loyalty cards. The nice thing is that these are automatically linked to your purchases, so once you’ve signed up and linked the app, you don’t need to present a coupon manually.
- Use Cashback Sites and Coupons: A variety of cashback websites and apps can also be linked to stores so that you get cash back when you spend over a certain amount. While these are primarily used for online shopping, some sites allow you to upload receipts from physical stores. There are also cashback credit cards that you can use so that no linking or uploading is necessary but be careful of the interest charges, which can be higher than the rewards you receive.
- Stacking Cash-Back Sources & Discount Gift Cards: Some cashback sources also give you discount gift cards when you spend over a certain amount. For these to add up, it’s best to repeatedly shop at the same store and use the same cashback source.
Frequently Asked Questions on Extreme Couponing
What are the limitations of Coupon Stacking?
There are various limitations of coupon stacking. For example, you need to stack coupons in the correct order. Some coupons can only be used if a product is over a certain amount, so stacking another coupon first could place that product below the required price.
Know the order you want to use the coupons in before you go shopping and have them organized so you don’t get flustered at the till. Some stores also have policies against coupon stacking, so you need to know your store’s terms and conditions in this regard.
You’ll also need to ensure you consistently collect and search for coupons so that you have enough coupons from different brands for coupon stacking to be a viable option.
How do you recognize real coupons from fake ones?
Unfortunately, there are fake coupons online as well as fake coupon sites.
Legitimate coupons will all have a product image, a watermark, nonstandard fonts, a pattern behind the expiration date, a unique serial number and barcode, and a print timestamp which is typically used as the border of the coupon.
These things make it harder for a coupon to be duplicated or forged. Remember that copying coupons, altering details, or creating fake coupons are felonies. Scanned coupons are also generally not accepted by stores as it’s too easy for duplicates of these to be made.
What should you take to the store with you when redeeming coupons?
When you go to the store to redeem your coupons, we recommend taking the following things with you.
- A detailed shopping list
- Your printed coupons or coupon binder in the order you want to use them
- A copy of the store policy
- Proof of identification
- Any cashback credit cards you want to use
- Any loyalty cards you need to present
- A fully charged phone with your coupon apps
What are additional tips when Extreme Couponing?
Now you are almost ready to start extreme couponing. But before you get going, here are some final tips for maximizing your savings.
- Set Price Limits and Maintain a Budget: Know how much you will or won’t spend for a specific item and only spend what you can afford.
- Only Purchase What You Need: There is no point in stockpiling an item you are never likely to use.
- Shop During Slow Periods: You don’t want to get yourself or the cashier into a tizzy by slowing down the line with your coupons; therefore, try and shop when the store is not busy.
- Shop Online: If you want to give extreme couponing a go but don’t want the hassle of in-store shopping, try and look for multiple coupons that you can redeem online.
- Subscribe to Several Sunday Papers: Sunday papers are some of the best places to find coupons, with each paper having different offerings. Subscribe to as many as possible to stack up a good supply of coupons.
- Scan Your Weekly Ads: Don’t forget that extreme couponing takes time. You need to check weekly flyers for new coupons constantly.
- Plan Out Your Shopping Trips: Knowing what you need to get and the coupons you want to use before you go will help to make your trips easier.
- Check Out Stores In Less Busy Areas: Stores that don’t have a lot of customers are more likely to be relaxed on their coupon policies which can mean that you can get more bang for your buck.
Is Extreme Couponing for You?
Extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. Getting good at extreme couponing takes time, practice, and plenty of patience.
You need to look at the time you are putting in and the money saved to see if the return is worth the investment for yourself, your family, and your lifestyle.
You also need to consider if you have the space to store stockpiles of goods that you get using your coupons. Alternatively, you could use your extreme couponing skills to do good by donating your almost free items to needy charities and communities in your area.
Are you an extreme couponer? Do you have any advice for anyone looking to up their couponing game? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.