Forums » Shopping

Extreme Couponing: Is it Real

    • 3299 posts
    July 18, 2014 4:42 AM PDT

    Cartloads of items for almost nothing, you too can feed your family for cents!

    Really? I am not so sure about that, especially if I have to spend $20 to buy the book to learn the secrets of these super shoppers.

    Serious couponing can work if you have a stack of coupons and match them to items on sale. Buying 6 months of toothpaste for your family that cost less than half of what you normally spend is a money saver in the long run. You spent less for 6 months, right?

    But can you really spend ONLY $75 a month to feed your family of 6 every month? What do you think of the extreme couponing methods? Real savings or not really true for you?





    • 1331 posts
    July 18, 2014 5:48 AM PDT

    I have a friend that does extreme couponing, and she gets some major deals. However she puts a lot of work into it between, pouring over sales ads, collecting and cutting coupons, hopping around stores (most stores limit the amount of coupons you can use per type of item per transaction now because of the extreme couponers and the show) and just getting stock.  Between gas and time (how much is your time worth?) I don't really know if it's much of a deal.

    I can see the appeal, but as someone who doesn't really buy name brand items, doesn't get a newspaper (why pay for that? news is free on the internet!), and doesn't want to spend my free time when I'm not working pouring over sales ads when I could be doing other productive things and just plain relaxing after a week of work, its just not for me.

    Realistically I don't think it's feasible to feed a family of 6 on $75 a month. Stores are wise to extreme couponing now and severly limiting coupon transactions. No stores in our area double coupons anymore, and that's part of the appeal and savings. Not to mention the majority of coupons I see are for overprocessed junk, so you may be "feeding" them on $75, what exactly are you feeding them? Are you making up for that savings in health issues years from now?

    I'm not knocking it.  If it works for some people, that's great.  I just have my reservations about it.

    • 1210 posts
    July 18, 2014 8:51 AM PDT
    I think I would just have more stuff than I could eat or use. If you have a big family and they eat things that are often couponed, then I can see it being worth it. I also agree with JessYeast about "what are you feeding" your family with these coupon deals. If I were truly poor again, I know I'd go back to couponing and eating what I could get (most calories for least $). Life is a constant negotiation
    • 2141 posts
    July 18, 2014 6:04 PM PDT

    I cannot eat alot of processed foods so extreme couponing is not for us. The only things I use coupons for is health and beauty products and baby items. I wish they had coupons for fruits and vegetables.

    • 34 posts
    July 26, 2014 2:12 PM PDT

    I see fewer healthy food options available couponing. I get healthier food & better deals buying generics, onsale produce and marked down meats at local market. I buy the cereals, milks, eggs, cheese products and only limited convenience foods at Aldis once a month.

    After trying the Walgreens sale ad tactics and the store shelves are bare as soon as the store opens doors on first day of sale, a monthly stop at Dollar Tree takes care of most of it. I do coupon for the 2-3 items I am picky about - deo, hair products & try to only buy these when I have a high value coupon. I rarely try to match coupons to sale ads as I usually just shop Dollar General here as the local Walmarts here regularly miss-price items so they ring up $2-3 more. I hate to get sucked into going to Walmart or Target only to have items ring up wrong after waiting 20 minutes in only 3 checkouts open in store with 20+ checkouts...then have to wait on manager to fix errors.

    • 54 posts
    July 29, 2014 7:35 AM PDT
    If the shelf is bare at Walgreens, ask an associate to check the stockroom. They often have more in the back. I prefer unprocessed and don't use many coupons, but clip for the boss's wife and a couple of tenants. In exchange, Mrs. Boss has been known to slide me an occasional $5 off $25 catalina. Store coupons-JoAnn Fabric and a few others-do save when combined with a good sale or a list of purchases.
    Amazon occasionally runs freebie on frugality books. Check SlickDeals' forum on free digital goods. I've scored several good ones there.
    • 832 posts
    July 29, 2014 8:35 AM PDT

    To some degree, it is real.

    I used to be pretty heavy into couponing. I spent maybe an hour a week between getting my coupons together, organizing them, and then checking match-ups online. All of my coupons were free, as our neighborhood throws a free weekend paper that includes coupons, and my neighbors would save them for me. I was able to get a lot of household items & groceries for free or very, very low prices - most health/beauty items such as detergent, all kinds of soaps, dish soap, lotion, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, razors, toothpaste, medications, and also a lot of our grocery items - dry pasta, spices, canned goods, some frozen goods. A lot of people say couponing is only for "trash" and convenience foods like Hamburger Helper or ramen, but that definitely isn't true.

    What you typically cannot get with coupons are things like fresh meat, fresh dairy, and fresh produce. However, you can get so much of your other stuff for free/cheap, that you free up money to buy these items. Still, $75/month for a family of 6 is quite a stretch IMHO.

    As I said, I didn't spend hours on end clipping, I never paid for coupons online, and I didn't drive to 10 different stores. I think you CAN get some great deals & build up a good stockpile with couponing.

    • 3723 posts
    September 28, 2014 8:58 AM PDT

    True just balance like everything else. 

    • 73 posts
    October 8, 2014 10:03 AM PDT

    The thing about extreme couponing is that when it works, it's like magic. I have found some rare, amazing deals in which a sale price stacks perfectly with my available coupons, such as a 4-for-$6 sale on cereal, plus two 75-cent coupons and two 50-cent coupons, all of which double, so that I end up walking out with four boxes of cereal that would normally cost over $4 each for only $1 total. It's an incredible thrill.

    The problem is, deals like that are few and far between. I very much doubt that even the extreme couponers on TV are finding them every week. (What they show on the air is probably their most successful trips, the ones they've spent weeks planning for.) Most of the time, the coupon inserts I get delivered with my local grocery store fliers have only one or two coupons each that are even worth clipping--and most of the ones I clip end up going unused because they expire before a sale comes along to stack with them.

    Now, it may be that with more effort, it's possible to find good coupon deals on a regular basis. However, it would definitely take a lot of work and planning. First of all, you need multiple copies of every coupon, so that when you find a deal, you always have enough coupons in your stockpile to max out your savings. Getting all those coupon inserts without buying multiple Sunday papers every week might involve scavenging through recycle bins or working out a deal with a local store to get all their expired Sunday papers on Monday. Next, you have to comb through the sale fliers every week looking for sales, and then comb through your stash of coupon inserts to find coupons that will stack with those sales. (Sites like CouponMom and Pirc can help a lot with this part of the process, but unfortunately, they aren't always reliable.) Then, you have to have all your coupons clipped, organized, and ready to go when you hit the store, and of course, you have to spend extra time at the checkout scanning them all. At some point, as JessYeast said, you just have to ask yourself how much your time is worth. If you can save $100 every week with only a few hours of work, that's great, but if you're only saving $10 or $20, then your second job as a couponer is earning you less than minimum wage.

    • 1331 posts
    October 8, 2014 10:35 AM PDT

    Also, you can buy stacks of coupons on ebay and websites that just sell coupons.  The only one I really looked averaged $.10 for a $1.00 coupon and that was standard, so you're paying at 10% fee for the coupon.

    Also, you have to have a grocery store that doubles.  It's nice that some of you still seem to have that...I haven't seen a grocery store that doubles coupons in at least 12 years, when I moved from my home state. I've made several moves since then, including half-way across the country, and no doubling coupons anywhere. Also at Kroger I've noticed that a lot of their digital coupons won't stack with paper coupons, etc.  Lots of stores here will only allow one coupon per item.  That seems to be becoming the norm. Last time I even looked at the coupons inset, "Will not combine with other coupons or offers" was stamped on the bottom of every coupon.

    • 73 posts
    October 8, 2014 3:28 PM PDT

    Well, only some stores in my area do it, and they will only do it on coupons up to 99 cents. This means that a 75-cent coupon is actually worth more than $1 off, because the 75-cent one will double to $1.50, so I always have to take that into account when trying to work out what a deal is worth. And of course, there are some stores, like Aldi, that won't take coupons at all (but they wouldn't be much use there anyway, since it's mostly store brands).

    Does "will not combine with other coupons or offers" mean you can't even stack coupons with sales? That would make them really useless.

    • 1331 posts
    October 8, 2014 3:33 PM PDT

    I've never had them not stack with a sale at Kroger, but it makes me wonder if they wouldn't at some stores.

    Resisting the urge to edit my earlier post. So many "also"s...makes me twitch! That's what I get for slapping a post together at work a bit at a time. lol

    • 265 posts
    October 9, 2014 4:54 AM PDT

    there's a lot of news articles showing how 'Extreme Couponing' show on TLC was some research.

    • 265 posts
    October 9, 2014 4:56 AM PDT

    I quit usung them altogether since moving closer to the Amish discount grocery stores. I even get meds there for .99 a box for 40 tablets of Claritin, Nyquil for $1.15......  hard for a coupon to beat that...

    • 265 posts
    October 9, 2014 4:58 AM PDT

    Back about 10 yrs ago I used to get coupojns for Target, combine with manuafctirer coupon, and either get the item for free or make money. Those deals are no more. Just like freebies, companies are reducing those deals.

    • 3299 posts
    October 9, 2014 4:59 AM PDT

    "That's what I get for slapping a post together at work a bit at a time."

    I do that as well. I check in and make responses to keep the discussions going but if I am in a hurry, it doesn't look as good grammatically.


    • 73 posts
    October 9, 2014 5:46 AM PDT
    Cinnamonhuskies said:

    I quit usung them altogether since moving closer to the Amish discount grocery stores. I even get meds there for .99 a box for 40 tablets of Claritin, Nyquil for $1.15......  hard for a coupon to beat that...

    Wow, where do you find stores like that? We have an Amish market in our area, but it mostly sells the actual goods produced by Amish farmers (so there are individual booths with poultry, smoked meats, dairy products, jams, and so on). There are a few things there that probably aren't of Amish produce, like some of the fancy flours and other supplies sold at the bakery and some of the confections sold at the sweet shop, but for the most part it's the real thing. I've never seen an Amish market selling medicines; if ours did, I'd expect them to be traditional herbal remedies that the Amish make and use themselves.

    Mind you, there are still some really good deals at our Amish market; it's definitely the best place around for free-range meats. But they're mostly on things that are really hard to find at mainstream supermarkets.

    • 265 posts
    October 9, 2014 7:04 AM PDT

    Haver these are Amish owned bent n dent stores. Not sure why the Amish in particular have gotten into them, but there are 3 near me and a 4th about an hour and a half away. 3 are Amish owned, with gas powered lighting in them LOL the 4th is Mennonite owned.



    • 73 posts
    October 9, 2014 9:40 AM PDT
    Cinnamonhuskies said:

    Haver these are Amish owned bent n dent stores. Not sure why the Amish in particular have gotten into them, but there are 3 near me and a 4th about an hour and a half away.

    Oh, salvage stores! Yes, I've heard those are great for bargains. We don't have any in our area, sadly, although we do have a mark-down shelf at our local supermarket that we check regularly. Actually, last night we went there and discovered they were having what they called a "flash sale"; they'd piled a few cases of merchandise right in the front entrance and were selling it at a third of the regular price. 50 cents for a pound of lasagna or a jar of marinara sauce, 25 cents for a can of tomatoes. It wasn't on the verge of expiring, either; I guess they'd just overstocked it. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way of predicting when one of these "flash sales" is going to hit; you just have to wander in at the right time. This is the first time I've ever seen one, though I hope it's not the last.

    This post was edited by haverwench at October 9, 2014 9:40 AM PDT
    • 3299 posts
    October 9, 2014 9:44 AM PDT

    Where I am, salvage stores easily found. They are not Amish owned, however.

    • 1275 posts
    October 10, 2014 10:53 PM PDT

    When I watch the extreme coupon show,I notice the carts are full of stuff. Whatever is edible (staples like milk)is paid for outright. I don't see a whole lotta food being purchased. Yes, it looks like they can purchase travel sizes of aspirin for free and have 50 coupons for them but DH feels these people are being hogs when they clean off an entire shelf and nobody else can purchase that item. Besides,how many boxes of aspirin does a person need??  I think alot of this is the thrill of the chase. It's not that they NEED 50 boxes of aspirin as much as they WANT the thrill of getting a bargain.  

    DH and I discussed this and felt that acquring stuff that you can't use up in a year is wasteful and takes away from those consumers that only wanted a single item but couldn't purchase it since the hoarders took it. Speaking of hoarding, did you notice how rooms are devoted to all of this stuff? People had bedrooms packed to the gills and closets were stacked to the ceiling!

    • 3299 posts
    October 11, 2014 6:14 AM PDT
    LisaYarosh said:

    When I watch the extreme coupon show,I notice the carts are full of stuff. Whatever is edible (staples like milk)is paid for outright. I don't see a whole lotta food being purchased.


    That is what I see as well. I am more concerned with how much was spent in total for the month on food and household goods rather than how much was spent or saved on one trip. They focus on the one trip but I don't think the overall expense looks the same as what is projected.

    I also want to know what their diet is. Is it a healhty one full of fresh foods?


  • October 11, 2014 9:55 AM PDT

    I can 'extreme coupon' with a few items here and there every month, but not with whole cartloads of stuff. We get the Sunday inserts, a Red Plum insert in the Wednesday mail, and my FIL and my mother both save all their inserts for me as well. So I always have at least three, maybe more, sets of coupons to use in conjunction with the Kroger ad or a trip to the commissary, so I go through my coupons before each trip, pulling out the ones I know I'll use for stuff we need, and ones I know or am pretty sure I can combine with a sale. If I'm at commissary and an item I have coupons for is on sale, I'll buy. If it's not on sale, the coupon goes back into my file for the next time. I save between $25 and $40 with coupons whenever I go to commissary.

    I don't use as many coupons at Kroger, but each week's ad usually has three or four good sale items we use all the time, and if I've got coupons, into the cart they go. As a result, my stockpile of health and beauty aids and household stuff is pretty big, and I can keep my pantry fairly well stocked most of the year as well without paying full price for much of anything (sometimes that's unavoidable!). I don't really shop anywhere else, although I could--I'm surrounded by Targets, Walgreens, CVS's, and Rite-Aids, so I could hit them all every week and really fill my house for little money. But like someone upthread said, I'd rather do other things with my time. Couponing takes me an hour or two a week, and I think the savings is worth the time. I'm satisfied with that.

    PS--I have a huge gripe with the Extreme Couponing show: why do they always just dump everything out of a display and into their cart? Why not leave the items in the display box and stack the boxes neatly in the cart instead? It always annoys me when they pile huge quantities of Tic Tacs (who needs so many Tic Tacs?) or candy bars or whatever into the cart--I get the impression they'd climb in and wallow in all that stuff if they could!

    • 1476 posts
    October 11, 2014 10:06 AM PDT

    I use coupons normally I save a few dollars our store used to do a triple coupon sale I would  save over $100.00 my record was 186 .00 and we walked out paying about $14  those days are gone I saved $30  the other day but it was a coupon for the allgery meds for Mike  and the diaper coupons we had to buy the new born we were out got diaper for a $1.25 a package .

    I am blessed with coupon that are free buns with purchase  or save $2.00 on meat  I get at least 6 Papers a week and I do buy coupon from ebay and one other site  I do what I can for the family one store does  double up to $.70 on one item  there's usually 6 in there buying all the same thing Mikes allgeries meds is what I shop for with this he can function and with his rx he asleep we talked to the dr he suggest using the otc when he needs to function  so I hunt the coupons ... and if I can get a 10 dollar coupon we usallly have enough if not I pay .