This is a guest post from Nicole, the owner of StruggleTodayStrengthTomorrow.com
My name is Nicole, and I’ve been a couponer for several years now. I have always had a fascination with saving money and love teaching others to do the same.
Today, I wanted to share with you, some extreme couponing tips that you can use- even if you don’t want to use a coupon.
How I became an Extreme Couponer
In 2014, my husband was stationed for 1 year in South Korea, leaving me home with our 1-year-old daughter. The 14 hour time difference made communication difficult.
What made it worse was the weeks of “blackout” training where he wouldn’t be allowed to use his phone, or computer to message me at all.
With a shared checking and savings account, and no communication between us for extended periods of time, we often over drafted. It wasn’t uncommon to go a month between cell phone bill payments just to keep us afloat.
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After a few months of this lifestyle, I finally had enough.
I started withdrawing cash on paydays so I could be sure that I had grocery and gas money. Leaving the checking account to bill payments, and my husband.
We had no real debts at this time, just monthly reoccurring bills, which made the process smoother. But I was still having trouble trying to stretch the money I had in my hands.
I searched Facebook for my local coupon group and the rest was history. Within a few days, I had devoured every source of information I could get my hands on. A few weeks later, and I became an admin for the group. Giving others extreme couponing tips and teaching classes.
What is a coupon?
A coupon is a voucher for money
What is extreme couponing?
Extreme couponing is the act of taking a coupon and maximizing the potential savings. What may have started as a $0.45 off coupon, ends up saving you double or more. Repeat for every item in your cart and you have some awesome savings ahead of you.
How do you extreme coupon?
Extreme couponing is more than just taking a coupon and applying it to your cart. It’s a lot of organized planning, knowledge, and reading. You have to make sure to follow rules set in place by each store and the coupons, to avoid doing anything illegal.
Extreme couponers are able to maximize their savings by combining store coupons with manufacturer coupons and a store sale. After purchasing, they get rebates thanks to apps or money back receipts printed at the register, called Catalinas.
The hard work often pays off at the end, when the savings get calculated and the stockpiles grow. It’s a beautiful and addicting site to behold.
A really easy way to get started with couponing is following big bloggers like The Krazy Coupon Lady. She helps to break things down to a beginner
How do you justify the time spent planning a shopping trip?
A phrase I hear a lot, is “I don’t have time to coupon.”
I get asked why I spend so much time planning shopping trips, and if it’s even worth it when all is said and done. According to these people, extreme couponing is a waste of time or requires too much time to be worth the end savings.
I understand the thought and logic that goes into these questions, and I always give the same responses.
How much is your time worth?
As a stay at home mom, my time is precious to me. It’s time I spend with my kids, the
While I have a lot of experience and knowledge built up inside my brain, I don’t have the most impressive job resume. If I tried entering the workforce, I’d be entry level anything. A minimum wage grunt worker, at best.
So, while I know I am worth more, I hold my hourly wage to the same minimum wage price that my state would pay me for gainful employment.
When I calculate my time, savings and money spent- I make sure that it breaks down to savings per hour. I consider the savings to be my “payment” and I know I did well when my savings per hour is more than the minimum wage.
This is how I can justify my time spent on this addicting hobby.
4 Extreme Couponing tips you can use (without a coupon)
1.) Know your prices
Being able to see a sale price and knowing instantly if it’s a good deal or bad, is a skill that anyone can master if they tried. Keeping a record of prices you normally pay, the maximum price you’d pay, and what the low price you’d buy multiples for, is vital.
Knowing sale prices and being able to spot low prices and good deals can save you money on fresh produce as well as save you money on meat! These are two items often hard to use a coupon for.
It’s also not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Simply print off a chart with 4 columns and fill it in.
Keep track of:
- Item (what is it?)
- Average price per unit (What is the normal sale price range. Is it priced per each, pound or ounce?)
- Lowest price per unit (If you saw it at this price, you’d buy multiples without hesitation. Make it a realistic number, and not just say “free.”)
- Maximum price per unit (You’d do everything in your power to never pay this price. “Too rich for your blood.”
The longer you pay attention to prices and their units, the easier it becomes. Eventually, becoming second nature to you.
2.) Stock up when deals are at the lowest price point
Extreme couponers know that sales run in a cycle and they know exactly what items will go on sale during these time periods. This helps them to know when they should stock up, and how much to get when they do.
The goal is to buy enough of an item at its lowest price so that it can hold you over until the next sale. Then simply, rinse and repeat.
This is how stockpiles are built, and how a couponer can go months between shopping trips for toilet paper. It’s also a great way to prepare for unexpected job loss, illness, or natural disaster.
Reducing expenses during the hardship, so time and efforts can be focused elsewhere.
3.) Don’t use every discount available
Not every discount is worth your time. Using a coupon just because you have it, isn’t a good enough reason to use it. If the item is something you were already planning to buy, that’s different. But don’t buy a sale item, or apply a discount towards something that’s not going to get used.
4.) Make multiple small trips instead of one big one
The TV has led many people to believe that extreme couponing is as simple as making a list, and going to a single store for one big shopping trip. This can’t be further from the truth.
The best way to maximize savings is often by doing several small trips to multiple stores. By making weekly or bi-weekly trips to stores, you can get the best-priced items at each.
Avoid impulse buying, and stay on track with your shopping list, and everything should work out.
Save money on gas by being efficient with your shopping trips
You can make your shopping trips more gas efficient by planning them in a loop pattern. Starting from your location, going out and hitting all the stores on the way back.
When you think of your gas spent in the same thought process as the savings per hour, the gas spent is usually an insignificant and justifiable expense.
So there you have it, 4 extreme couponing tips you can use WITHOUT a coupon!
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