Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Extreme Couponing?

Article first published as Extreme Couponing? on Technorati.

YAY!! Published again!  Love my new hobby!! So fun.

Everybody wants a deal. Everyone. Where I live, getting a good deal is a way of life...
So it was with great anticipation that I tuned in to watch "Extreme Couponing" on TLC. I was impressed. Like the show or not, you really have to admire the tenacity of these people.
The vast majority of us have used a coupon from time to time. They key part is remembering to use the coupon. I can't tell you how many times I went shopping or out for dinner only to get home and realise I had a coupon in my purse that I could have used. Some people think using coupons is tacky. Well, considering I have the bargain gene, I don't see that. Why pay full price when you can get a discount? Make no sense to me.
I think what separates us coupon amateurs from those experts featured on the show is the preparation involved. In the episode that I watched, one woman said it takes her 6 hours to prepare for a shopping trip. 6 hours!!! From the coupon cutting, to researching in store specials to confirming store coupon policies, it all takes time. Finding time to even go to the grocery store is a challenge for me, let alone researching the trip before hand.
All that prep work pays off does pay off. I watched as grocery bills decreased from over $1,200 to just over $100 with COUPONS! Unbelievable. Hats off to that shopper (and incindentally, the checkout individual as I think ringing through 2,500 coupons in a row would be ever so slightly cumbersome).
So I was 100 percent behind this extreme coupon extravaganza to this point. It's really hard to argue with 98 percent savings. But here is the one sticky point... where do you put it all?
At what point does a family of four justify purchasing 77 bottles of mustard? Apparently mustard is big favorite of extreme couponers as it can be stored indefinitely. I absolutely understand the economies of scale that come with buying in bulk. That being said, there is a thin but definitive line between being smart and being impractical. I think you cross that line when your shower is full of paper towels and there are hundreds of rolls of toilet paper under you son's bed. I don't have enough room in my pantry for 77 bottles of mustard. Does anyone?

I guess to the extreme couponer an expired coupon is like a little death, and no coupon shall be wasted. There will always be more coupons though right? So my argument is why not use up some of the stash you have accumulated before venturing out again? Once you do that, they go back to the coupon extravaganza and stock up again. No?
I actually tuned into the show to gets some tips. I did pick up a few:
1. Match up the coupons you have with the in-store specials - that way your coupon will go farther to paying for the item.
2. Find out the store coupon policies ahead of time - helps to avoid embarassing situations where you have a cart of full of grocies and and an empty wallet.
3. Get Rain Checks - if the item you have a coupon for is sold out, go to customer service and get a rain check so you can take advantage of the savings when they re-stock the item.
4. Check and see if your store offers "Double Coupons" - for those coupon newbies out there (don't feel bad, I had to look it up too), double coupons means the store offers twice the face value of the coupon.  Some stores offer this all the time, while some only do it periodically.
5. Price Matching - see if the store will match sale prices offered by other stores.  This one requires a bit of research, but it might be worth it if you don't want to drive all over town in an attempt to save a dollar.

I might actually give some of these tips a go.  I can unequivocally guarantee I will not have my $1,000 grocery bill reduced to $0.50, but who knows, I might save a buck or two.  That's a good thing, because I think there might be a sale on shoes....


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