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Coupons - anyone here an expert?Follow

#1 Feb 02 2012 at 1:33 PM Rating: Excellent
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"Extreme" couponing is something I've always heard of people doing, occasionally read about, but never actually knew that anyone close to me did. My mom does it somewhat, but all she really passed on to me was "check the price per item; bigger boxes usually give you more" and "BOGOs (Buy One, Get One) are amazing." So that's what I've done up until now. I've had a couple shopping trips where my savings almost equaled my money spent, and I always felt pretty good about it.

Today I found out a coworker of mine is an extreme couponer. Apparently she refuses to ever pay for several items (deodorant, razors, toothbrushes/toothpaste, soap) and has had crazy deals on food (like apparently buying 30 cereal boxes for $.75 recently). As soon as I learned, I asked her for some tips, and she told me some basic things that I should have known, like manufacturers' coupons combining with store deals which also combine with local deals, etc. I'm not one to promote sites, but she directed me to Southern Savers, which covers a bunch of stores here in the south and showed the store deals and coupons (including links to printable ones). For example, Planters Peanuts are available in Publix for $4.39 normally. They're BOGO this week, so that price is half. Then there are two coupons; one from the manufacturer ($1.50 off if you buy 2) and one from the store ($1 off if you buy two of certain varieties). Thus, you can get them for $.59 each if you buy two.

Anyway, it made me kind of interested; seems like a fun spare time project. It's recommendable to set up a new e-mail and/or facebook to deal with the spam as you sign up to a bunch of companies' offers, but I guess the savings pay off. Does anyone else practice couponing to the degree that this woman does? Have any advice on your own habits?
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#2 Feb 02 2012 at 1:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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It is the opposite of a good idea, for two reasons:

1. Typically you have to buy far, far more of the item in question than you'll ever use in order to "save" money.

2. You could probably have MADE more money in the time it takes extreme couponers to do all their prep work by just doing a job or making something by hand or whatever.

Plus, I'd never want to devote that much of my time to rampant consumerism anyway. I spend as little time as possible in stores.
#3 Feb 02 2012 at 1:41 PM Rating: Good
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Extreme Couponing sounds like what happens in Filene's Basement.
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#4 Feb 02 2012 at 1:43 PM Rating: Good
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I use coupons but since we shop at the military commissary, the prices are already lower than retail at the local stores. So we only use the manufacturer coupons.

It's only if the local stores has a special and there are coupons that I'll go to the local store to get a better deal.

We don't do stocking up that the extreme couponers do because 1) we don't have the room; and 2) I refuse to have 300 jars of peanut butter/cream of chicken soup/cereal/etc. I only keep about a month's worth of non-perishable food on hand at a time.

ETA: The time sink in being that organized is way too much. Ray and I get irritated if we're in the commissary for more than an hour and a half. Some of these extreme couponers said they spend 6-8 hours a day (but they don't say how many days out of the week) to just prep for the trip and then spend an additional 6 hours in the store for the actual buying spree.

Edited, Feb 2nd 2012 11:47am by Thumbelyna
#5 Feb 02 2012 at 1:49 PM Rating: Excellent
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AshOnMyTomatoes wrote:
It is the opposite of a good idea, for two reasons:

1. Typically you have to buy far, far more of the item in question than you'll ever use in order to "save" money.

2. You could probably have MADE more money in the time it takes extreme couponers to do all their prep work by just doing a job or making something by hand or whatever.

Plus, I'd never want to devote that much of my time to rampant consumerism anyway. I spend as little time as possible in stores.

As a response, I'll posit two things:

1. Per item, or total? 30 boxes of cereal is way too much to eat solo, of course, but she didn't pay $.75 each... she paid that total. It seems fair to me that you could take 27 of those boxes and donate them to the local foodbank

2. That brings up the question of if your hobbies save you money. Outside of reviewing games for ZAM, none of mine do! I guess if people like saving, and otherwise would be doing nothing "productive," couponing would actually be a more viable option, no?
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#6 Feb 02 2012 at 1:51 PM Rating: Excellent
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*raises hand*

We do it a bit, not to a crazy degree though. I think you got the basic idea though. Clip coupons and combine with store discounts etc. to save money. Do note that some places refuse to take printed coupons from the internet; many of the stores here only accept coupons from newspaper/mailings after several scams.

The savings build up over time. Once you have a few things in a stockpile you can start being more choosy about when you buy, waiting for extremely good sales and such. How well you can do really depends on the stores in the area, what kind of deals they offer, and how cut-throat the competition is.

Our goal is a modest 50% savings on each shopping trip. Which actually isn't bad when you consider we're paying basically full price (like $26/week) for baby formula. Things like toiletries, aluminum foil, trash bags, etc. are nice places to start as they tend to have good discounts. Meats tend to be harder to find deals on. One of the supermarkets here have manager's specials and we keep our eye out for half-price meat deals. Other nice ways include buying your bread from the bakery store if they have one in town.

It really is surprising how much money you can save with a little extra planning.
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#7 Feb 02 2012 at 1:52 PM Rating: Excellent
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History is an interest of mine. Not a hobby. Hobbies cost money, interests are free.

For the record, I'm not a planning type shopper. I usually just go to the store and get what I believe I need with little to no planning. Doesn't really help that most of my foodstuffs come from green grocers and butchers and such, which don't generally offer coupons to begin with.

Edited, Feb 2nd 2012 2:54pm by lolgaxe
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#8 Feb 02 2012 at 1:55 PM Rating: Excellent
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LockeColeMA wrote:


2. That brings up the question of if your hobbies save you money. Outside of reviewing games for ZAM, none of mine do! I guess if people like saving, and otherwise would be doing nothing "productive," couponing would actually be a more viable option, no?


My wife saves way more money per hour of couponing then she would make if she got a job and had to pay for child care. Right now it's more or less paying for my daughter's preschool.


Edited, Feb 2nd 2012 11:58am by someproteinguy
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#9 Feb 02 2012 at 2:36 PM Rating: Good
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I never coupon, but I generally only try to buy things when they are on sale (with some exceptions), and buy in bulk when they are. I buy chicken breasts when there's a good sale and freeze them. Not as good when I use them, but it's worth the savings.

Cans of tomatoes, too. I buy in bulk and just hold onto them.

My produce, with the exception of onions, is always what is on sale. I plan my meals around that. If I have time, I'll actually figure out what I'm making for the week based off of sales, so that I can get everything I need and not waste anything, nor end up in that awkward spot where you have half a green onion, rice, and chick peas. :P
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#10 Feb 02 2012 at 5:35 PM Rating: Good
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Cans of tomatoes are always 35p or so here.

I nearly exclusively buy things that are on offer, things from the Value range of various stores (I have 5 different supermarket chains on my way to uni, so I can switch around a lot thanks to that) and from small shops. And then there's Irn Bru, but that's actually on offer at uni now. Yay.

I will also buy all my biryani ingredients in bulk because I eat a lot of biryani, so they always get used up. I go through something like 15kg of rice a year on my own, and something like half of that is just for biryani and khichri.
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#11 Feb 02 2012 at 6:24 PM Rating: Decent
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The extreme couponing thing doesn't really work where I live. Most stores around here will only accept one coupon per item/deal. You can still save money, but not nearly as much you could if they'd like you combine offers.
#12 Feb 02 2012 at 6:25 PM Rating: Decent
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I don't really use coupons very often. I've known people who did do extreme couponing and I always thought it was a huge amount of time and effort. While they save a lot of money, it always seem like they buy a lot of stuff they wouldn't have otherwise. I kinda see it like the gamblers who go to the casinos and always talk about how they won this much money, or that much, but never mention how much they lose. I get the same impression when coupon folks talk about how much they saved.

If I wasn't going to buy that can of condensed milk for a buck, buying it for 49 cents didn't actually save me 51 cents. It cost me 49 cents. I'll use coupons on items that I would normally have purchased anyway, but that happens pretty rarely. I do occasionally flip through the coupon books that show up in the mail, and pretty much nothing in them is stuff I buy. Stores and manufacturers don't tend to print up coupons on things that people buy a lot of. They do it for items that are underselling. Off brand items, or just things that people don't buy a lot of regularly.

Having said that, within the range of things that I do buy regularly, I will adjust my specific purchasing based on current deals and coupons. So if I see cans of soup on sale for half price I'll pick up a few cans that go with various recipes I make. I know I'll use them eventually, so why not save some money? But I can't imagine starting with lists of sales and coupons and selecting my purchases based on the best savings and then trying to figure out what to do with the stuff I've bought. That would drive me nuts.

EDIT: Oh. And I also always check the meat section for the managers specials as well. I'll gladly interrupt my normal purchasing schedule to buy $32 worth of steak for like $14. Some of those specials are crazy good deals. And if that means I have to eat steak tonight instead of something else, well... I'll just have to suffer! Smiley: sly

Edited, Feb 2nd 2012 4:28pm by gbaji
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#13 Feb 02 2012 at 7:28 PM Rating: Good
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If your diet allows purchasing what is currently on sale and you have the room to store it go for it! I have lots of girlfriends who do it and it works wonders! I have a household of picky eaters so I can't, unless I want spend money on stuff that will be wasted.
#14 Feb 02 2012 at 8:35 PM Rating: Good
I wouldn't call it extreme couponing, but my wife used to do this grocery game thing and she would save a ton on groceries. As I recall it was pretty cheap, something like $10 every few months or so. It more than paid for itself.

The lady that runs it gets the scoop on what's going to be on sale, as well as what coupons are coming out, and couples them together for some sweet deals. We had stockpiles of all kinds of (useful) stuff for a while.

Not sure why my wife stopped doing it. It took her an hour or so on the weekends to go through the list to find the stuff she would get. I think that she also had to do the shopping on the weekend for some reason, which is when all the amateurs shop. Maybe that had something to do with it.

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#15 Feb 02 2012 at 8:52 PM Rating: Good
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Late last year I stopped at Wal-mart early one morning before going to work, it was a Wednesday or something. I was just going to grab a box of cookies to bring to work for my birthday. There was only one checkout open, and the woman in front of me had a cart loaded with food stuffs. It totaled about 140 dollars. She then broke out her pocketbook and handed over a pile of coupons. About 4 minutes later, the total was 75 dollars.

I kind of thought, "Wow." But I didn't really know what she bought compared to what she would actually have purchased for use if she didn't have the coupons.

The only time I use coupons is when they come on this that I am already purchasing. Like Hormel will slip coupons on their packages of pepperoni and their "Natural Choice" deli meats. There was a few weeks there where their pepperoni packages had a coupon book on them. I don't know if it really works this way, but the cashier said it didn't matter what the product was, as long as it was the same brand. She just rang up the coupon booklet at the end and ended up taking about 4 dollars off the total even though most of the coupons weren't for that particular product from Hormel. I'd imagine that a large place like Wal-mart would just turn the coupon in and use other sales as the proof that it was used?

Long story short, coupons only get used if they come with the product I purchase and are rung up there at the cash register.
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#16 Feb 02 2012 at 11:27 PM Rating: Good
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I've worked in a grocery store for the past year and a half, on and off as school requires.

During that time, I've seen the entire spectrum of coupon bringers. The people who only use the ones manufacturers put on the product - and only if they meet the requirements (buy 14 for .50 off or whatever). The person who dumps a crap ton on the register and ends up walking away with a multi-hundred dollar purchase for a fraction of that. And the person who brings in a lot of coupons, but the vast majority are expired.

I always hated that last one. But most of the time I wouldn't say anything and just manually enter them. My store pretty much had an appeasement policy - don't make a scene, just keep the customer happy. If they say it was on sale for a certain price, it's on sale for a certain price.
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#17 Feb 03 2012 at 5:41 AM Rating: Good
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#18 Feb 03 2012 at 6:43 AM Rating: Good
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Turin wrote:
The extreme couponing thing doesn't really work where I live. Most stores around here will only accept one coupon per item/deal. You can still save money, but not nearly as much you could if they'd like you combine offers.

Same here. Every single coupon or discount action has a disclaimer that says "not usable in combination with other offers".
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#19 Feb 03 2012 at 9:19 AM Rating: Decent
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His Excellency Aethien wrote:
Turin wrote:
The extreme couponing thing doesn't really work where I live. Most stores around here will only accept one coupon per item/deal. You can still save money, but not nearly as much you could if they'd like you combine offers.

Same here. Every single coupon or discount action has a disclaimer that says "not usable in combination with other offers".


As someone who has worked in grocery for several years here in Kansas, this is very true. Not only are the checkers told time and time again to deny more than 1 coupon for a single item, but the registers themselves will lock it out.

When I worked for Dillon's (subsidiary of Kroger) we had a guy would try and buy like 30 toothbrush. I wish I was kidding. He would then try and had over something like 50 coupons, store and manufacture. It was always a pain trying to tell the guy that he couldn't do that.
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#20 Feb 04 2012 at 3:28 PM Rating: Decent
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From what I understand, the reality TV shows get clearance from the stores to ignore those rules.

Just more proof that reality TV is totally fake.
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#21 Feb 04 2012 at 6:24 PM Rating: Good
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catwho wrote:
From what I understand, the reality TV shows get clearance from the stores to ignore those rules.

Just more proof that reality TV is totally fake.


May be true, but there's still people out there who do coupons like this. It's kinda insane.
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