Moneywise MoM: Extreme Couponing

I imagine a lot of you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night (or Tivo’d it to watch today) and want to know, “How do I do that?” I did it, back when my twins were infants and my 3-year-old was in preschool, and I ended up regretting it. With that experience behind me, I still shop with coupons but in a very different way, and I hope you’ll consider my trial-and-error before you dive in.

Use coupons responsibly
Couponing can be a hobby for some (it certainly started that way for me), and it helps if you have plenty of free time and enjoy math. Know your store’s policies. Learn about coupon ethics, and start with coupons for the products you use regularly. Check your favorite brands’ websites for printable coupons; even organic foods have coupons. Match coupons to the sales in your store’s weekly ad for the most savings.

Remember that time is money
Once you learn couponing and the other strategies that greatly reduce your grocery bill (such as meal planning and stockpiling), you’ll spend less time on it than you do as a beginner. It took me several years to get to this point, where my meal planning and grocery lists take less than 30 minutes, my couponing and shopping from 1-2 hours total, per week. Be careful that you’re not spending hours and hours just to save pennies; it’s not worth it, and it’s frustrating!

Know the difference between stockpiling and hoarding
I encourage stockpiling, in that you purchase enough of a commonly-used grocery item at its lowest price to get you through until the next sale. This usually equates to 4-6 of an item at most, and in my house, you can’t see my stockpile! It’s one shelf in the linen closet, one shelf in the laundry room, and my kitchen pantry (not huge). When you watch the TLC show, you’ll hear addictive language and see examples of 3, 5 or even 10 years worth of products. What is the point of stockpiling them if you continue to shop?

Learn other ways to save
At MoneywiseMoms, while I do share grocery deals and coupon tips, I also encourage you to start with the strategies that help you save on your groceries with NO coupons. You’ll eat healthier, encourage good habits in your children, and save a LOT of money.

I have an entire vlog series on Grocery Saving Strategies; I hope you’ll check it out. Each short video gives you a different habit to learn to save BIG on your groceries, and the majority of them do not involve coupons. Stop by MoneywiseMoms to learn more.

What did you think of last night’s show?

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9 comments

  1. Double the Giggles

    Didn't watch it yet (DVR'd it), but I started couponing when my twins were first born, as well. For a brief time, it completely took over all my free time. I clipped EVERYTHING and found myself making numerous trips to the store to get free stuff I knew I would never use. …the rush from getting free stuff, I guess. Now, I'm a little more experienced and only clip coupons for products I know we'll use, and I have a better feel for items that go on sale, and when. I still get as many coupon inserts (from friends and family) as I can, but clip more responsibly. Couponing is a great thing, and perhaps I needed to hit it full force in order to learn the best way to do it.

  2. I think it's hoarding, just like the other TLC show. Sure, these women pay next to nothing for groceries (most which will never be used) but at what cost? I didn't see one example of women donating any of their excess items to a needy organization, the only reason I could fathom for purchase 62 mustards or 700 cans of soup.

  3. I didn't watch the show but try to use coupons as best I can. I am part of a coupon group that helps post local deals to all our major stores here and matches sales and coupons. Honestly I'm lucky if I make it to the store 1 or 2x a month other than for milk, bread, and fresh produce. I try to stock up when there are good deals of the things I use/need. Its hard to really save when you try to eat healthier – there aren't coupons out there for fresh meat and produce!! 🙁 (Why is it so expensive to eat healthy??)

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  4. The show really PUMPED me up for saving money! With the upcoming arrival of my triplets I am eager to learn ALL I can about saving money. Yes some of the people in my opinion were hoarding but I still enjoyed the show trying to get ideas for saving money. I even saw one of the women had a stockpile of DIAPERS! That is what I need!! I wish they would have shown how she stockpiled those! =)

  5. Last night was the first night I watched. I felt like it was hoarding. The only person who even mentioned donating to a food bank was the guy with the total cereal. It's great to get so much stuff for great deals and if you don't need them than to help others…but 100 toothbrushes? Seriously. And the one lady spending up to 6 hours per each of the 4 stores that she goes to each week..that's a ton of time away from the family which is so important to my family. And I'm not going to stockpile unhealthy food/etc in my home that I wouldn't normally buy just because I had some coupons.

  6. Luke and Callie

    I agree with the the statement about hoarding. It seemed very obsessive and borderline psychotic! The show is intriguing but as a fellow couponer, I feel like it shines a very poor light on us. Couponing is an excellent way to save money but I feel like the people in the show are taking advantage of the system. I fear stores may begin to make it more difficult to navigate the coupon system soon…I'm calling it now…this may not end well for the courteous but frugal families! :/

  7. I agree about how it looks to stores. I think it is taking advantage of the system and if enough people do that then stores will make changes that in the end will hurt others who coupon "fairly".

  8. Totally hoarding! I mean that stuff expires! I think they need to donate half the stuff they have because it is just going to expire before they can even use it. I am sorry but 35 bottles of mustard?! WHO NEEDS THAT?! I think they are obsessed. I think they are taking advantage of the store. I coupon on things I know I will use. I hate that a lot of the coupons are for sugary cereals, processed foods, etc. Needless to say I do not do a lot of couponing unless it is for healthier things.

  9. Gina @ MoneywiseMoms

    Double–That's exactly what I did! I've learned to back off and find balance.

    Barbara–I've been trying to find more ways to save on produce and meat. It is harder, but not impossible.

    Stephanie–I just wrote a post at MoneywiseMoms about how to save on diapers. I played the Drugstore Game when my twins were born, that's how I stockpiled diapers. It will be hard for you to get out after your triplets arrive, so try to do it now!

    Callie and Jessica–I agree with you; I hope the show and popularity don't change stores' policies.

    Machelle–the thing that bothered me about the mustard is that when you know the sales cycles, you know you can get more FREE mustard in a few months. So why buy so much?

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