I've watched 3 episodes now and at first I was really excited... thinking wow! I could do this too.I could save tons of money and even donate some of my finds. But the more I watched, I realized that these ladies are spending the precious time they have been giving with their families, to cut out a million coupons, plan shopping trips, and find room to stash 900 mustard bottles. It saddened me to see how their passion for saving has taken over their home. Also I've noticed that the "extreme couponers' are not buying everything that they need for a meal plan in one shopping trip.Their buggys are filled with 52 yougurts and 92 cans of pasta sauce. I have yet to see fresh meat and produce coupons, have you? Yes, I can "save 90%" why I got buy 35 cans of cat food (when I don't own a cat) but your are still spending that 10% on something that you wouldn't normally buy. So In my opinion, your actually loosing that 10%. Also- These couponers claim to be saving around 40K per year. Really $40000? Keep in mind that they are still spending SOME money on these shopping trips, so they are basically telling us that they would normally spending 40K + whatever they are actually spending on the trips, in one year, to feed (in some cases) a family of 2. That's crazy! I think the issue is is a warped definition of savings.
I'm not trying to make it sound all bad, because some people are really doing great things with their "stock piles" (that phrase makes me cringe and invision walls of pasta). Kudos to the people who are sending food to the troops, supporting food banks, and less fortunates. Sure, I've clipped a coupon here or there, and really scrounged for a good deal on a tight budget, but I've never, nor do I hope to ever be like some of these extreme couponers.
SO in efforts to stick to my "Don't knock it, till you try it" motto, I set out on my own extreme coupon experiment.
After watching all the TLC episodes, I headed to the net to see what I could save. I didn't know whether to start with my actual grocery list, or if I should search for highest value coupons. I know, I know, I just ranted about how the ladies on the show buy things they wouldn't normally have on their list, but then I went straight for high value coupons. ) = I get excited when I see a coupon for more than $1.00 off, it's hard to pass them up. So yes, I gave in and printed off some high value coupons for some instant gratification.
Here's what I came up with from my trip to the family dollar:
$1 -Large Lysol wipes
coupon for $1 off any lysol wipes product. store had twin packs on sale for $4, I used the coupon on each of the containers in the twin pack, saving $2, which means I got the large containers of lysol wipes for $1 each.
$.25 big packs of five gum
coupon for $1 off when you buy 2 packs. packs on sale for 75 cents each. I got 2 packs for 50 cents.
$1.70 6 pack clorox cleaning wand starter kit
coupon for $3 off any starter kit, store had marked down in clearance bins for $4.70, and the package had a pill off coupon for a $5 mail in rebate. so I spent $1.70 on the purchase and they are sending me a rebate for 5 bucks. Looks like I made $4.30 to take that item out of the store. ( =
$.35 ajax dishsoap
.25/1 coupon, cracked nozzle bottle marked 60cents (I put mine in a glass bottle anyway)
PROS: I got -2 Lysol wipes, -2 packs of gum, -a clorox cleaning system, - and dish soap
All for $3.30 + tax out of pocket. If you count the $5 mail in rebate... I MADE $1.70
CONS: I spent about 2 hours fishing thought websites and my total without the coupons would have been $10.80 based on the killer sales I found, so REALLY I only saved $7.50 (if you don't count the rebate)
So, Did I really save anything by trading my time for $3.75 per hour savings?
Another Experiment with Multi stores:
I received a Home Made Simple coupon book in the mail with some really great deals, and decided that maybe I do need a little cleaning "Stock pile" (cringe). So Heres the summary of my trip:
Store..... Spent..... Saved
cvs 18.42 22.15
Bilo 39.04 44.64
$ General 25.04 10.75
Freds 25.32 8.00
total $107.82 spent
total saved $84.54 (78.4% SAVINGS)
Without coupons my bill would have been: $192.36. I PAID: $107.82 ( = ( = ( =
We never made it to Walmart because my little car was bursting with cheap finds. We didn't have a bit of room for anything else.
Heres what my trip looked like:
|This was my first big trip, and I'm just a beginner, so I'm sure some of you extreme clippers out there probably think this is a small haul, but for me, it was decent savings for the time spend on the project.|
I did take some extra time to check on some store policies in my area. I found that our home town shop rite types each coupon in at face value, while Bi-lo scans and doubles coupons up to $.60. Walmart does not price match BOGO Free offers and only allows 1 coupon per item. Dollar General computer will only accept one coupon per item, even if the coupon is on the package, and you brought one in too. Family dollar won't allow you to get anything for "free." I tried to buy 4 Reach toothbrushes at $1 each and use 2 coupons for $2 off any 2 reach products, and the computer wouldn't take the coupon. They will not override it. I'll be using those coupons at Walmart and getting the brushes for FREE. If your a fan of the Dollar General or Save A Lot, they both offer a $5 off of $25 coupon. SAL has it printable on their website when you sign up for their newsletter while the DG offers it in random sell papers.
I also learned that shop rite, bilo, savealot, ingles, cvs, walmart, both dollar stores, and freds have online circulars and coupons available. The more I check in to coupon policies, the more limits per transaction, per person, per day restrictions I see. Maybe this is the store's efforts to keep people like extreme couponers from cleaning them out and getting a payday all at once? I'm not the first one to notice that my store policies are stricter than those of these extreme couponers. Jenny at Southern Savers says:
"...stores view this as press, and they are willingly and knowingly breaking their own policies so that you will see how much you can save if you shop with them. "
She also points out that:
Stores aren't going to let you hold up the check out for 5 hours, many are ending the double coupon offer because of neglect like we see on the show, there are usually a limit on the number of coupons you can use on one item or even a limit on the number of coupons per transaction.
So whats the point I'm trying to make? Yes, you can save money, yes, you will buy things that you usually wouldn't, and yes, this will take a huge chunk of your free time. Is it worth it? I'll let you decide. Maybe you would like to conduct your own extreme coupon experiment? If so, please enter your trip summary in this month's contest. I would love to see what kind of deals you can come up with!
Win a custom coupon binder made by me. These binders are invaluable to couponers. WINNER will receive a FREE* binder, tab dividers, and clear coupon organizer inserts for your binder, as well as important buy list and sale cycle info, and coupon policies for your favorite stores. It's everything you need to get couponing.
Go ahead, enter. What do you have to loose?
Save some money, and win a binder (Over $50 Value) to keep you clipping. ( =
*S&H may apply, depending on location.
To enter you must be a public follower of this blog.
How to enter:
-Visit sites like Southern Savers, Redplum, Coupons.com, coupon network, and smart source to find coupons for your shopping trip. Save your receipt and post your trip summary on this comment to enter.
Trip summary must include:
Store name, date, total spent, total saved, percent saved. (See my family dollar experiment in the beginning of this post.)
Winner will be announced 5/31/11
Please note: This contest is for those who are NEW to couponing, if you are a long time pro, or own a coupon blog/website, please refrain from entering.