Couponing to the extreme


Collegian staffer finds way to cut monthly expenses

If you’ve gone shopping recently, you may have noticed a certain trend gaining popularity.

More and more people, perhaps inspired by the TLC show “Extreme Couponing,” are dramatically lowering their shopping bills through smart coupon exploitation.

When I started watching ‘”Extreme Couponing” several months ago, I saw it as a pipe dream — something only Mid-West housewives with five children and a ton of time on their hands could do.

I’ve now come to the realization that anyone can make efficient use of coupons and save absurd amounts of money on their grocery bills.

I recently attended Extreme Couponing a workshop put on by The Record.

Shannon Jones from the “Extreme Couponing” television series presented her method of couponing.

While I have only been couponing for a month and a half, I have already seen savings of about 60 percent on some receipts.

If you would like to learn how to save some money through coupons, here are a few tips I picked up at the workshop.

Any attempt at couponing, of course begins with acquiring coupons.

The Sunday Record usually contains manufacturer coupon inserts from P&G, RedPlum, and SmartSource, in addition to several other stores. Buying a subscription to three or four copies of The Sunday Record will generally pay for itself over time in coupon savings.

The next key is timing. Most items typically go on sale every three to six months.

Waiting for a sale or clearance on an item can mean a savings of several dollars.

For example, Fiber One cereal typically retails for about $4.99.

If there is a sale for buy one, get one free, then the price of each box has suddenly dropped to $2.50 a box. Now, in combination with the sale, you have a few $1 off one box of Fiber One coupons.

Use one coupon per box, and the price of each box is now only $1.50 a box. That’s roughly 70 percent off the original price if you purchase two.

Another tip is to use a method called “stacking” coupons.

Most stores will allow you to use one store coupon in combination with one manufacturer coupon on one item to maximize savings.

The final piece of the couponing puzzle is stockpiling.

Similar to buying in bulk, stockpiling is buying multiples of a single item at its lowest price.

Because items only go on sale every three to six months, having enough on hand until the next big sale is essential to avoiding paying full price. This is usually a good idea for things that you can afford to last a really long time. Perishables would not be a good idea to do this with.

A tip for easier extreme couponing is to have a system to organize your coupons.

For about an hour or two on Sundays, I clip all of the coupons that I will use, or might use, and organize them into a binder.

Then I sort them into trading card sleeves. The sleeves are organized by tabbed dividers in five categories: grocery, condiments, personal, household and pet care.

All of the coupons are there right in front of me, and they go with me so I always have them on hand while I am shopping.

Couponing is not an instant magic formula, but rather a cumulative process.

It takes a little practice and dedication, but the rewards are maximum savings and exiting the store feeling as if you got your penny’s worth and more!