Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Recruit?!?!

I absolutely LOVE to talk about couponing to prospective couponers and casual couponers!  I have been approached many, many times, by friends and strangers.  My policy now is that I will share that I coupon, but I don't recruit (because that never ends well).  If anyone has questions, I'm more than happy to chat their ears off - but they have to come to me.  Even then, most are not ready to commit to doing it in an extreme fashion - and this becomes apparent within just a few days.  It is a big commitment at the start but some people want to put in minimal effort (ex: buy coupons occasionally and immediately score free stuff) yet still reap all the benefits.  Few things in life ever happen that way.

I have 3 simple rules for anyone who wants to start down the road be an extreme couponer:

1.  You must get MULTIPLE copies of the coupon inserts. 
Imagine you find a deal to get an item for free that you use all the time.  Awesome, right?  Well if you have only one copy of the coupon, you can only get one item of that product.  While that is OK, you probably won't have enough to last you until the next great free/cheap deal comes along.  Often you'll run out and end up buying it not on sale, or worse yet, with no coupon! 

My recommendation is to get 4 copies of the inserts, whether by buying them or getting them from friends/family.

2.  You must be consistent and gather coupons EVERY WEEK (no exceptions!).
Usually the best sales/coupons/rewards matchups do not happen in the same week a coupon comes out.  My best deals use coupons that I clipped several weeks, or even a month or two, ago.  Many new couponers get frustrated, and give up, when they don't save 75% the very first week.  Others "run out of coupons" because they are not consistent, and then wonder why they can't get the same deals I do.

My suggestion is to steadily collect coupons for at least 4 weeks before even trying any significant couponing.  By then you should have quite a coupon base to draw from.  If you are feeling adventurous, try printing some online coupons, too.

3.  You must get your coupons ORGANIZED
Many people let their coupon inserts pile up and don't clip them right away.  That becomes a huge job instead of several small, manageable ones.  Clip your coupons each week.  Also, keeping loose coupons thrown in the bottom of your purse does not cut it when it comes to extreme couponing.  The coupons are useless if you cannot find them when you need them. 

I have found that the stereotypical "extreme couponing" binder with baseball card pages works very, very well.  I definitely recommend it.

***

These are the 3 recommendations I give to all new prospective extreme couponers.  Most never complete these steps.  The few who do have been very successful.  Of course there are more steps to follow, but these steps build the critical foundation for everything else to come. 

I am excited because a friend approached me about couponing just this past weekend.  I gave her the 3 basic steps and she's already got 4 copies of this week's inserts and organized them into a binder.  I have high hopes for her!  I hope she sticks with it because having friends to coupon with makes it easier and more fun!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Great Grocery Savings

We have slashed our grocery budget to less than half of what it was a year ago before we started couponing.  I credit the vast majority of this success to our couponing.  Most months go by without us having to buy any personal care items, paper products, or basic food staples.  Of course we do buy them when they are free or cheap, to replenish the stockpile, but we are able to wait for the great deals to come along.

Couponing really works....  give it a try!

Monday, February 6, 2012

OUCH!

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of me falling off the proverbial wagon.  A family emergency, an unexpected trip and a busy time at work contributed to this travesty.  Yesterday I found myself with 3 weeks worth of unclipped and uncollated coupons.  I was quite far behind.  It took me several hours, with some help from my kids, to clean out my coupon binder of expireds, and to collate, clip and file so many from the last few weeks.

This is the first time this has happened since I started couponing last year.  Believe me, it's easy to get behind.  It got so bad, and my coupons were in such disarray, that I actually went to the grocery store WITHOUT my coupons!  (gasp, I know)  I did manage to finish organizing everything and redeemed myself by going to the food store the next day and saving 60%. 

As much as it may seem like a pain in the neck some weeks, please learn from my mistake and keep up with your coupons!  I love coupons but I do not want to spend another whole day organizing them!

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's A Beautiful Thing!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am addicted to Coca-Cola.  The original kind.  Not diet.  Not cherry, lime or vanilla.  Classic Coke.  And I drink way too much of it.  There are worse things to be addicted to of course, but still, it's not healthy for me.  But I digress...

Anyway, CVS had Coke on sale last week and this week.  It came out to $1.66 for a 12 pack of cans, which normally cost $4.99 not on sale.  Despite the fact that I am super cheap, my Coke addiction has driven me to pay as much as $1.50 for one 20 oz bottle!  So I jumped at the chance to buy cheap 12 packs.  I got 12 last week and 8 this week.  Yes, I have 20 packs of Coke...  They expire in September which means that if I drink one a day, then I'll use them up before they expire.  Given that I drink a bit more than that, it shouldn't be a problem.

Am I crazy for buying so many?  I spent $33 on soda!  In this case I don't mind stockpiling a lot because I have a long history of using this product and know 100% that it will not go to waste.  Plus, it saves me from plunking down a dollar in the Coke machine at work every day.  I'll break even after not buying Coke at work for the next 33 times, and then I'll still have over 200 cans left.  So it's worth it!  On the other hand, I bought 4 bottles of Triaminic Kids Cold Medicine a few weeks ago.  I made 50 cents on each bottle!  They also expire around September.  Will I use all 4 by then?  Probably not.  I will probably give some away, like I did some other products this morning.

When I first I started couponing I bought anything and everything that was a good deal.  Now I'm trying to be a bit more savvy and really try to caculate how much we use, and can use by the expiration date.  I'm also capping myself off at a certain number.  Right now I have about a year's worth of kid's vitamins.  Given expiration dates, I probably shouldn't buy any more until I'm down to a 3 month supply.  However, if they are completely free or I make money on the deal, then I cannot guarantee anything!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cheap Hair Color, Aleve & Vitamins

I had been quite busy this last week and hadn't done much couponing, but I made up for it this weekend.  CVS had a great deal on L'Oreal Preference Hair Color and I got 4 for .50 cents each.  Now, I already have 7 down in my stockpile that I got for between .50 cents and free, but given that I go through 12-15 of these a year, I jumped at the chance to pick up a few more so I won't ever have to pay full retail ($8 and up).

This past week I realized we were almost out of Aleve so I started checking around and got a great deal on it at Walgreens today.  By combining sales, coupons and store rewards, I got Aleve for just .24 cents.  I had enough coupons to buy 8 of them, which I did.  They don't expire until August 2014 so hopefully we'll be set for a while. 

Lastly, I got an awesome price on Flintstone vitamins at Target.  Again, I used sales, coupons and store rewards to get an awesome price - only .32 cents per container!

I don't go out and buy $1,000 of stuff at a time.  I buy a little here and a little there.  As we are out running our regular errands I'll pop in CVS, Walgreens or Target to get my deals.    Love it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Great Start to Couponing in 2012!

Early on Sunday morning, January 1st, I went out couponing while everyone else was home recovering from New Year's festivities the night before.  It was worth it!

I came home with 8 bottles of kids medicine (exp: 2014) , 4 bottles of body wash;  18 rolls of Charmin toilet paper, 6 bottles of conditioner.  I spent $20 out-of-pocket, and left with $17 in gift cards/store rewards.  The net cost of all these products was $3.  Awesome!

I accomplished this by combining manufacturer coupons (inserts & printed), store coupons, store rewards and store cards.  I found all the deals at my favorite website, www.thekrazycouponlady.com!