Extreme Couponing Tips

Extreme Couponing is an American television show on TLC. It documents how people are saving incredible amounts of money on their grocery bills. We've got the best tips and tricks from the show so read on and see if you can become an extreme couponer!

Set a grocery budget

Determine a weekly or monthly amount that you want to spend on groceries. Make sure you always spend less than that amount by using as many coupons as you can. After a few successful trips, challenge yourself and lower your budget.

Plan your meal schedule

Knowing what you are eating and when can help you avoid buying unnecessary food and make it easier to buy sale items ahead of time. In one episode of the TV show, a woman planned out an entire month of meals.

Study coupon trends

This one will take some time to master but try to research when various types of products will go on sale. In one episode, a woman highlighted the fact that January often saw the release of more coupons for healthy foods like oatmeal. Also, around certain holidays like Valentine's Day and Easter, look for more candy coupons. Consider keeping a coupon journal so next year you can anticipate what is coming.

Buy multiple Sunday papers

Probably the number one couponing tip is to buy extra copies of the Sunday paper when the coupon inserts are valuable to you. Most Sunday papers cost between one and two dollars but contain coupon savings over $50. One episode featured a family who would buy up to twelve copies. Be sure to browse through it first to know how many inserts are inside or look online to find an insert schedule.

Cut copies of coupons at the same time

Cutting out coupons in all those Sunday inserts can be time consuming and repetitious. An alternative method is to sort all the inserts into stacks of identical pages. Then cut each stack and you'll get all your additional copies at the same time.

Print internet coupons from multiple computers

Most online coupon sites like Coupons.com limit a user to printing two copies of a coupon. Extreme couponers have a workaround for this by printing coupons from multiple computers in their house. So if you have four computers, you could print up to eight copies of a coupon. We were surprised this was shown on the TV show as you would think this loophole would be against the terms of service.

Know the store's coupon policy

Before shopping, always review a store's coupon policy to know your limits. How many coupons of the same item do they allow? Do they double coupons? These answers are usually available on the store's website. Be sure to compare the store's policy with others in the area as you might need to switch stores to maximize savings.

Shop separately to avoid limits

If a store has coupon limits, simply get your spouse or friend to check out in a separate order. Problem solved!

Match store sales with manufacturer coupons

Extreme couponers often will get items for free by using a coupon on a sale item. Review your store's weekly circular and see if you have coupons for any of the sale items. Additionally, some stores allow you to stack their store coupons with manufacturer coupons. If you have coupons for non-sale items, consider waiting a week or two to see if it goes on sale. Patience is a necessity to maximize your savings.

Shop at multiple grocery stores

It's common for people to stick with a single grocery store but they often are missing out on coupon savings. Review flyers from all the stores in your area and learn to match up coupons with sale items. It's almost always worth it to drive farther to get to a better deal.

Arrange your coupons to match the store layout

As the coupons pile up, it's easy for you to get overwhelmed and start missing products you have coupons for. Try mapping out the grocery store and planning your route. Stack the coupons in the same order as the planned route so you can easily flip through during the trip.

Use store loyalty cards

This is a no-brainer but make sure you have a loyalty card for any store you shop at. Otherwise, you may not be getting the lowest price.

Buy in Bulk

Having a stockpile of duplicate coupons allows you to capitalize on a great deal. The TV episodes featured people buying dozens of the same item and basically getting them for pennies or free. As long as they are non-perishable, there isn't much of a downside to having 20 mustards or 100 rolls of paper towels. It also allows the more charitable couponers to donate items to a local food bank. Unfortunately, many stores will limit the number of duplicate coupons you can use so you may be limited to buying only a couple of the same items.

Buy trial size

Some types of products, including soap, toothpaste and shampoo, will come in trial or travel sizes. These cheaper products can still be bought with a coupon if the fine print doesn't exclude trial size items. It's an easy way to get things for free.

Bigger isn't always better

When a product comes in two sizes, shoppers assume that the larger one is a better deal. Often that isn't the case. Compare the quantities of each and determine which has a better per-unit price. A perfect example of this is toothpaste.

Watch the register closely

Make sure your products are ringing up at the correct price and you are getting the full coupon savings (including doubling). If something looks wrong, don't be afraid to point it out.

Get rainchecks for out of stock items

You can still get the discounted price even if an item is out of stock. Get a raincheck from the service counter if you have a great coupon deal and don't want to lose it!

Schedule a weekly coupon clipping activity

Coupon clipping can be a great family activity so try to schedule it every Sunday or Monday. Not only does it speed up the clipping process, you also teach your kids how to save money at an early age.

Happy birthday rewards

Many stores and restaurants will give you something free on your birthday. Research local stores that offer deals and make sure you take advantage of it on you and your family member's birthdays.

Stay tuned as we will be adding more tips from future episodes!

• Published: April 21, 2011
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