Extreme Couponing – A Thoughtful Approach

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.


8 thoughts on “Extreme Couponing – A Thoughtful Approach”

  1. Very well put! I am slowly teaching the hubby a little about couponing and so far he’s done good. He must learn to stick to the list though, haha… No matter what!

  2. I totally agree, who needs that many bottles of mustard. I am all for saving with coupons but enough is enough. Who also needs 100 boxes of cereal and 50 bags of chips all of which have expiration dates on them. Like my son said,it is totally obsessive with those women.

  3. I think you are amazing for everything you do! I have a 1 yr old daughter and i cant begin to tell you how much you have helped me save! And all the awesome freebies! God bless you and your family! And Thank you so very much!

  4. Awesome post!

    I watched Extreme Couponing tonight and I’m just shocked by how much these women save…but I also know that I could never do that. Simply because, I don’t have the time. Its also hard to do alot of saving when buying formula thats $20 a can (ouch!!) While I like to get a tiny stockpile…tiny like maybe one extra package of toilet paper…I don’t see much of a point of buying 75 bottles of mustard just because I can save and only get them for a rock bottom price. I would rather get a couple and find ways to save on the other items we actually do need and use.

    That could be where I go wrong, I shop for what we use and what we need. I search for coupons for items we need and use. If its a weird brand or an item we probably would never use I don’t keep the coupon. What is the point of getting items that you really don’t need or like just because you save?

    I would love to save more, believe me…my family would benefit greatly from it. But none of the stores I shop at double coupons, most do not allow stacking, and there’s rarely coupons for the high dollar items we must buy. Plus…I simply don’t have the time to commit to getting serious about my couponing 🙁 I adore sites like your’s that help me find deals and savings because without I wouldn’t find any. I always feel awesome when I get a great deal on an item!

    These women spend five hours in the store shopping/checking out…I don’t have that kind of spare time. Hubby works full time and we have a one year old to keep up with. My family time is much more important.

    Another thing that bothers me about their shopping…the way their cold items just sit there while they finish shopping and go through the long process of checking out. I tend to get our cold items (milk, cheese, chicken, meats, etc) at the very end of our trip right before checking out and then take them immediately home…I’ve always been told cold items shouldn’t be out of the cold environment for too long yet these women spend 2 hours just checking out!

  5. I love this post! I agree, we have to have balance. When I first started couponing at the beginning of the year, I would spend pretty much all Sunday getting my papers, clipping then shopping (because I was scared they’d run out of stuff). I go running from store to store, too, on weekdays after work. Whenever I read about a good deal, I’d go shopping. Then I realized it’s not fair for my family. My time should be for them first & foremost. I’ve slowed down, choose which deals are really useful for me and only do those. My weekends are now couponing-free.

  6. I totally agree with your thoughts on this. I think there has to be a limit you set upon yourself that is right for your family and requirements. I also think the extreme couponing show is giving couponers a bad name. Anyway you add it up it has to be coupon fraud for you to walk away with a $1000 in groceries for only $35.00. In order to even pay the 39 cents on 77 bottles of mustard you had to buy items that were way under the coupon amount to have enough overage to cover that. Last night my hubby and I were blown away but the size of some of those stock piles. Even for a family of 4 there is way to much there to ever use before the expiration dates.
    So in the end it is a waste of food that someone could of used, a waste of your own resources, and a burden on your family.
    okay I am off my soap box now

  7. I like your couponing article here. I agree with you all the way, that this is a very fun hobby for us couponers but dont take it to the extremes like some of these extreme couponers did in the TV show. Wow who needs that many mustards, razors, toothbrushes,etc. I dont so hopefully they will donate it to the food bank, churches, shelters & other places that need necessary everyday items. Let’s keep this hobby a fun one for us true refunders & let’s not have a few
    “bad apples” ruin it for us all. I am happy when I can save at least half off my grocery bill as we dont have very many stores here that double & triple-just our Randalls store & they are high priced.

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