Extreme couponers can get a huge amount of product for little money, an attractive option for some college students. Here’s how to adopt the life of a an extreme couponer:
Step 1: Start collecting coupons. There are many places to find coupons. Coupon inserts are in the Sunday newspaper each week.
“If you want to start couponing you need to have more than one Sunday newspaper every week,” said Allie Erler, a 23-year-old BYU—Idaho graduate from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. “The point of extreme couponing is to have at least four or five of those coupons, and you need that many if you want to get a deal.”
There are also mobile coupons, and websites such as Coupons.com, Red Plumb and Smart Source have printable coupons. Some stores have printable store coupons; Target, for example, gives great coupons to its customers. The important thing to remember with printable coupons is that the computer only allows two coupons to be printed per computer.
Step 2: Buy a binder and get organized. Organization is key to becoming an extreme couponer. Go to the store and buy a binder and baseball card holder sheets. These sheets are the perfect size to stick the coupons in and give easy access. Then start organizing the coupons into different sections according to what kind they are. “I organize my coupons according to food, beauty, personal care, cleaning products and pets,” Erler said. “From there I can keep track of when they expire and keep track of each section.”
Step 3: Research store policies. Every store has a different coupon policy, and it’s important to learn them so the coupon transaction is successful. Most stores only allow four like-coupons per transaction; that means there can only be four of the exact same coupon in one transaction. Walmart and Smith’s, on the other hand, allow an unlimited number of coupons per transaction.
“I think Walmart and Smith’s is two of the only stores that allows you to use an unlimited number of coupons, but it’s up to the manager, and they can stop you if they want to. Every other store they limit you up to four of the same coupon.”
Learning the policies is important to make sure the transaction goes smoothly and doesn’t frustrate the couponer or the cashier.
Step 4: Learn how coupons work. There are many tricks when it comes to couponing, so it’s important to know how to use the coupons. Stores such as Target allow coupon stacking, or using two coupons on one item. But one coupon must be a manufacture coupon, which is the kind from the newspaper or couponing websites. The other is the store coupon, such as the printable coupons on Target’s website. Stacking those two coupons together when there is a good sale usually results in a cheap or even free product. Another trick is coupon doubling. Select stores double coupons up to a certain value, usually $0.50. If the coupon does not say, “cannot be doubled” and the store allows it, it will usually be doubled to $1.
Step 5: Look for the deals. The key to extreme couponing is waiting for the right sale. Don’t waste the coupons on full-priced items; wait until there is a sale to get the best deal. Couponing websites like Krazy Coupon Lady break down each week what is going to be on sale and what coupons to use; they are a fantastic resource. Reading the grocery ads from the newspaper is also beneficial; they will tell when certain items go on sale. Finding deals will become easier with more practice.
“From there you can start to learn how (to) coupon, and then when you go into the stores, you can actually figure out your own deals by looking at the items and the coupons,” Erler said.
Step 6: Start saving money. Extreme couponing saves couponers hundreds to thousands of dollars every year and provides great bulk storage for themselves and their families. I mean seriously, why pay full price for an item if it’s possible to get it for free?