Dear $uper $aver,
I just watched the show “Extreme Couponing” and I was reminded of your coupon escapades when you visited Portland, Oregon many years ago and spoke about coupon shopping at a local event. I remember you shopped locally on TV and got an impressive savings by using your coupons ($350+ worth of groceries but you paid about 12 cents I think!) What do you think of the shoppers who save thousands of dollars in one shopping trip? How do they do it? I was a 29 year old mother of three when I first heard you speak. Now I am a 50-something grandmother—still clipping coupons I might add. I was happy to run across your blog. –Marion O’Brian, Miami, (formerly of Portland)
How great to hear from you and thank you for remembering my shopping trip to Portland! Actually, I enjoyed watching the episode of “Extreme Couponing,” and I did think that the program lived up to it’s name:Extreme. We are bombarded with so much information in today’s world of super-hype and super-technology, it takes an extreme or shocking example to get our attention. However, I think there is a great lesson to be learned by the program: No matter what your age everyone loves a bargain! I think that all of the shoppers set the bar high and each provided interesting examples of what can be accomplished if you have a good system in place, stay consistent and don’t get discouraged. However, any viewer who would come away from the tv thinking they could grab a few Sunday supplements, download a few coupons and charge into a store and save $1,000 is bound to be disappointed.
Yes, I have been guilty (and proud of it!) of “Extreme Couponing” to the point of delighting in more than $800 worth of coupon savings in one shopping trip and lining the walls of my garage with free rolls of Bounty Paper Towels. After all, who needs insulation, right? When I was a junior high school teacher I actually got enough free bread, sandwich meat, peanut butter and jelly and condiments to make sandwiches for 200 fellow teachers when we walked a picket line during an unfortunate teacher’s strike. I still think that“Extreme Couponing,” is a great attention getter and offers an example that many consumers can follow on a smaller, more consistent scale.
$uper $aver Jan & Extreme Coupons!
Extreme Couponers follow the same guidelines that regular shoppers do but on a larger scale; In our current economy it is more important than ever to utilize saving skills in every area of our lives. Couponing is just one of them, but since such a huge portion of our after tax income is spent on food and personal items, this is a great place to start.
Manufacturers DO want consumers to redeem coupons, it moves products. Coupons are the only form of advertising to give something back to the consumer. To get started, try these simple steps:
1. Make a master list of the 100 or so items that you regularly use in your home. How many of them are products that offer coupon discounts?
2. Make a habit of saving the coupon inserts and store flyers from the Sunday & Best Food Day papers. Ask your family and friends to save them for you. No need to make Dumpster Diving for coupons (re: TLC), they are everywhere.
3. Organize Coupons by product type.
4. File Coupons In a manner that make it easy for you to find them when you need them.
5. Make a List by product/store aisles on an envelope to save time. (More than one store, use more than one envelope)
6. Put corresponding coupons into each store envelope. This helps you save time.
7. Avoid Impulse Shopping-“IS” adds 10% + to your bill.
8. Take anything if it is Free- but, any number of items that are more than what you need for the next 8 weeks, PLEASE DONATE!
9. Save Your Receipts so that you can keep track of your savings. This is a great motivator.
10. Don’t Get Discouraged; Keep a positive attitude and just think of your coupons as Monopoly Money.
Time is precious. Keep in mind that couponing is a skill like any other that takes some time and education. If you can dedicate 90 minutes – two hours a week to familiarize yourself with the system, you could be rewarded by a 10 – 20% savings on your grocery bill each week! At the end of a year that could equate to a trip for a family of four to Disney World! What is your goal for your coupon savings?
Marion, if you will forward your land address to me I would love to send you a free autographed copy of The Coupon Encyclopedia! I have to do something just for you remembering my trip to Portland.
(Check out this Super Saver column every Tuesday.)