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Be a Realistic Couponer

August 13, 2012

Be a Realistic Couponer

The television show Extreme Couponing claims to show viewers how to score $1000s in groceries for next to nothing.  While it is definitely possible to get some items for free using coupons, it is not likely that you will be able to get all – or even most – of what you need for free.

Instead of trying to be an extreme couponer, try instead to be a realistic couponer. Here are a couple of reasons why the show Extreme Couponing is not realistic.

Store Policies/Coupon Limits

On the show you see shoppers buying hundreds of the same items and getting them free thanks to the fact that the store doubles coupons. The problem is that most stores that double coupons limit the number of like coupons that you can use during each visit. Most set the limit at fewer than 10, so when you see someone buying 100 of the same things – and using double coupons – it is just not realistic.

When the show first came out, many of the stores would allow their own policies to be broken, because they wanted the publicity of being on the show. They quickly learned, however, that by doing so they would have to explain to all of their customers that what they saw on the show isn’t really allowed.

Variety of Items

Another problem with the show is that the shoppers often get a good variety of items including milk, meat and produce, all free or nearly free. This CAN happen, but only with many, many hours of planning, collecting and buying coupons AND having access to a store with a very liberal coupon policy.

For most people, it just isn’t going to happen.

Realistic Couponing

So forget what you’ve seen on TV and instead think about how you can be a realistic couponer.

How Much Can You Save?

Instead of making it your goal to save 100%, aim for a savings of between 50% and 60%. This is a great savings, and is very realistic.

Remember that you’re trying to save this percentage off of your total grocery bill. When you set your savings goal at 50%-60%, you still have plenty of room to buy items for which you don’t have coupons. By using coupons whenever you can, you will be freeing up some of your grocery budget to buy the other items that you need.

Wait for Sales

A huge mistake beginning couponers make is that they buy whatever they have a coupon for even if the item is not on sale. This is not going to get you the savings that you want. Instead, you want to hold onto your coupons until you match them with a great sale. Here is an example.

Let’s say you have a coupon for $.75 off bacon. The normal price is $3.75. If you use the coupon, the bacon will cost $3.00. If, however, you wait for a buy-one-get-one-free sale, you will be able to get the bacon for only $1.13. If your store happens to double coupons then you would get the bacon for only 38 cents.

Matching your coupons to sales is crucial to get great savings.

Buy What You Use

This seems obvious, but many shoppers spend money on items that they don’t really use just because they have a coupon. If the item is free then you should certainly grab it. You can always give those items to the food bank or share them with a neighbor.

If the items are not free, however, then you are going to spend money on something you don’t use and then you’ll still have to buy the things that you DO need. This mistake can actually cause you to spend even more on your grocery bills than you did without coupons, so don’t do it!

Be Organized

Your coupons aren’t going to do you any good unless you know what you have. The best way to do this is to separate the coupons by category either in envelopes, a binder or whatever works for you. When the sales flyers come out each week, you will easily be able to match your coupons to get the best deals.

Being a realistic couponer can help you shave hundreds of dollars off of your grocery bills and still get everything that you need to feed your family healthy and delicious meals.

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  1. Mindy Lynn-Harper - January 12, 2013 at 2:25 am

    ok I hope it is ok for me to share this I have a couponing group for military families and all to often do I run into the question of how to be an extreme couponer.

  2. roland fitzgerald - November 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    giving it a try

  3. Kara - November 10, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I love this! I am really learning the ropes here!!