Extreme Couponing – A Thoughtful Approach
First written in April 2011, this blog post covers extreme couponing, coupons and the television show that aims to glorify the use of coupons in sometimes seemingly unscrupulous ways.
If you watched TLC’s Extreme Couponing show, you may have lots of questions on how to do coupons yourself. After all, what’s not to love getting hundreds of dollars in products for pennies on the dollar?! But really, who needs that many bottles of mustard?!! Ha!!
What is Extreme Couponing?
Before you think, “wow, they really put my couponing to shame,” I’m here to tell you couponing is an individual thing. If stockpiling isn’t right for you and your family, then don’t do it. Just because you can save more by buying 100 of something doesn’t mean you should. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m saying it is your choice. If you save your family money by using coupons, then you’re a successful couponer. If you do it in a way that’s just right for your family, then you’re a successful and balanced couponer. 🙂
You can learn extreme couponing on this site. Every week we publish store deals to get free stuff and very cheap things in store with coupons. Don’t miss it under our COUPON tab!
On the other hand, saving money should never cross that line of morality. I personally work hard to save you from fake freebies, by researching – sometimes for hours – to find out if an offer is legit. Same goes for fake coupons; those dastardly counterfeits that someone created to steal from stores. It’s against the law (and you could be prosecuted even if you didn’t realize it was fake!) and it’s shameful. Stores aren’t the only victims either, many well-intended couponers have innocently passed fraudulent coupons without realizing it. It gives us a bad name, makes stores crack down on the rest of us who are just trying to save with real coupons. Fraudulent coupons aren’t the only way to misuse savings either. Passing a coupon for the incorrect item is wrong. If you have a $5 off coupon for a razor and you don’t buy a razor, you’ve committed coupon fraud. Granted, things happen. After an exhausting shopping trip with tons of coupons, I could see if you had a coupon in the pile you handed a cashier but forgot to actually pick up the item. I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone. But those who intentionally cheat the system should re-think their methods. It’s hurting all of us.
Donating Excess to Charity
In the last season of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, Mr. Coupon from WeUseCoupons bought a TON of cereal for next to nothing. They featured him donating all of it to charity. That, in my humble opinion, is a very good way to put extreme couponing to good use. I liked that a lot. But remember: aside from finding creative ways to use it, if you let it go to waste you haven’t saved anything.
How to Get Started Couponing
I used to think that using coupons was pointless. Why use coupons for name brand products when I can pay less for generic without a coupon? This is true if you’re going to casually use coupons wherever you happen to be shopping. Unless you have brand loyalty (which I do for certain things, such as ketchup), it’s true that you aren’t going to save much casually using coupons.
So what’s the difference? “Couponing” means you’ve done your research (or let us do it for you!) You have a list. You have your plan for what something costs and the coupons you’ll use on it. It may mean only buying select items at certain stores. It probably means you’ll go to several stores to get all your items. It’s all about strategizing.
True “Couponing” utilizes some or all of the following:
- “stacking” coupons (using both a store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon on one item)
- doubling and tripling coupons when possible
- use printable coupons as well as coupon inserts (from Sunday paper, for example)
- use ecoupons
- finding sales
- maximizing store loyalty programs
- using store rebates and/or manufacturer (online or mail in) rebates
- shopping with rewards programs such as Ebates to get a percentage back on things you buy online
- and finally, paying with a credit card that pays you back (just make sure to pay it off so you won’t incur any fees)
At GimmieFreebies, we can show you how to save lots of money with coupons. Check out the “store shopping deals” section of the Gimmie Forum for regular updates on specific deals. We also list hot coupons available in our “coupons” section. And make sure to familiarize yourself with your store’s coupon policy. They may double or triple coupons, but if not – all hope is not lost. You can still save a bundle.
Your Bottom Line
When a scale is balanced, it is worth more than the treasure its weighing. – Gimmie
The truth is this blogger is never going to be that “extreme.” I want to help you save, but at the same time I feel responsible in maintaining a balance and teaching others to do the same. Stay tuned to Gimmie and you’ll see how much great free stuff there is available. But, my freebies and deals should never trump time with my beautiful family. I still need time alone to regroup and remember what makes me – me. I need some fun time with friends every now and then.
At the end of my day I feel complete having done my part to contribute to my family’s bottom line. But, as my late Grandmother told me at the end of her life, “all those years I spent worrying about money, and now it means nothing where I’m going.” I hope that knowing what’s important is the extreme in my life. I know it’s important to spend time with my beautiful daughter who I built a couch fort with tonight, rather than clipping coupons. I look at my successful stepsons who are amazing people, and still look to me every now and then for direction. They’ve even come full circle to admit some of my meanderings actually helped them succeed and find their way in life. I look at my loving husband who would do anything for me. Yeah, even buy feminine products WITH A COUPON!! (Ha!) My love for my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Isn’t that what it’s really all about? That’s what I will do in extreme. I sure hope that couponing, as much as I love to save, never consumes me to this extreme.
I hope you each find your extreme, and I hope it makes you tingle with happiness. I really, really hope at the end of your day what you’ve done with your time feels totally and completely worthwhile.
And, I’m extremely grateful to have you as a fan.