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Extreme couponing can equal extreme savings: Here's how

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Reel Mama: Extreme couponing can equal extreme savings: Here's how

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Extreme couponing can equal extreme savings: Here's how

Before last week, I never understood extreme couponing nor the shrieking hysteria of the couponers on reality shows after scoring the deal of the century.  I was too busy for couponing, and quite frankly keeping up with all those little slips of paper with an expiration date really stressed me out.  I was tired of finding crumpled unused coupons on the floorboard of my car.  
Then I decided to give it a chance, and I ended up walking out of the grocery store last week having saved a grand total of $140 on my bill.  I felt euphoric the whole day, and I suddenly understood how one could become addicted to bargain hunting.  Our lives are hectic, even chaotic, but with a little time and planning you too can enjoy the amazing deals discovered by the frugal experts.  If I can become an extreme couponer, so can you, and you’ll start experiencing a good kind of sticker shock:  the kind that comes from getting a great bargain.

1. First you have to round up the coupons.  These are available from a variety of sources, but you have to know where to look. 
Coupons are available online for printing through Google searches, store websites, and even banner advertisements on parenting websites.
Junk mail isn't junk! The grocery store circulars containing all the deals arrive weekly.  Review them and circle the items you would like to buy.  You may have to go to more than one store to get the best deals.  Store coupons are also often available for clipping, usually toward the back of the circular, so don’t forget to check the last few pages.  Coupon circulars also arrive with the “junk mail,” so be sure to flip through the circulars before recycling them.
Take the Sunday paper.  The coupon packets are tucked in the middle of the newspaper with the store circulars.  These are often duplicates of the coupons that arrive in your mailbox.  This can be helpful if you want to purchase larger quantities of an item, especially essentials like detergent or diapers.  The savings more than covers the cost of the newspaper. Coupons are also printed along with your receipt at the end of your grocery trip, so keep an eye on these. Stores will often print a $10-off coupon for use on your next shopping trip if you spend a certain minimum.
2.  Next, you’ll need to organize all those coupons.  It can be overwhelming at first, but a mini file from an office supply store can help.  Some are labeled by month, and you can organize them according to the coupon’s expiration date.  Devise a system that works for you so that the coupons you need are easily accessible once you are in the store.
3.  Combine store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons to maximize your savings.
4.  Use the power of “BOGO”: buy one, get one free!  This is equivalent to getting an item at a 50% discount.  Combine this with coupons, and you’ll wind up with some deals that are almost too good to be true.
5.  Take advantage of a grocery store's three- and four-day sales, which usually include the weekend.  This is often when the higher ticket items, such as deli meats and cheeses, organic produce, steak, and seafood, are discounted.  Don’t miss it.  Timing is everything.
6.  Create a menu for the week, then shop for the items you need.  Try to stick to what’s on sale and plan around that.  Extreme couponing trips are great for stocking up on staples, such as meat, frozen veggies and bread (yes, it can be frozen to make it last longer, and there’s no noticeable difference to the taste), that you can stash in the freezer or canned goods and pasta for the pantry.
At the end of your couponing adventure, your fridge will be full of goodies galore, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, perhaps even euphoria, at all the money you saved that can be used elsewhere in your family’s budget.

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