Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frugal Friday~Extreme Couponing, Part 1

One of my newest obsessions, in a growing list of many, is extreme couponing. I had heard about the show on TLC, but didn't really have a desire to sit down and watch crazy people using scissors in an obsessive-compulsive sort of way.

Silly me.

Thanks to an unexpected rain shower and below normal temperatures, my Mister and I spent a cozy afternoon with a fire, a cup of organic decaf, and the remote control. Of course, the remote became obsolete once we stumbled onto the show, "Extreme Couponing". Do you know how long a marathon actually equates to on television? About 7 hours. It was not one of our finer moments.

We did however learn a very valuable skill. No, it is not how to use scissors while rummaging through someone else's recyclables. (While a valuable skill to be sure, it does us country folk no good to rummage around in other people's firestarters; it could get us shot.) We learned that with the right coupons, a little research, and a whole lot of prep time, we too could save thousand of dollars from our grocery bill.

Thousands you say?

Example: One lady purchased over $3,000.00 worth of groceries. Her final bill with coupons, rebates, and a loaded club card was $9.10. Did you hear me? $9.10!!!! Not only did she stock her own food pantry, but she also donated a hefty amount to her local food bank. Another family, over a period of time, was able to pay off their mortgage and pay cash for brand new vehicles with the money that they had saved. Yet another couple, who are empty-nesters, use their savings to go on elaborate vacations every year!

After being a sceptic for so long, I have to say, I'm hooked.

Now, because I'm a newbie at this, my savings were not what they could be in the future. Apparently, one needs to be diligent about clipping coupons and building a stash. But, for a first-timer, I did good. (Insert goofy giggle.)

I only have one problem with people who extreme coupon. Just because a person has a coupon for something doesn't mean they need to buy it~especially if it is something he/she would never use! One lady had over 40 boxes of cat food and had never owned a cat in her life. So, while clipping coupons, I made sure to only clip those that would benefit our family. That said, I did buy a few things that I normally wouldn't buy, like boxed macaroni & cheese, movie-sized boxes of Whoppers & Reese's Pieces, laundry detergent, and packages of pasta.

In the spirit of justification, here's my reasoning:

1. Boxed mac & cheese is an easy meal that the kids can prepare if my Mister & I have a date night. I don't have to worry about them burning the house down, and because it's not the norm for them, it makes a fun treat. It also makes date night a little more spontaneous since I don't have to worry about planning something before we can leave.

2. Movie theater candy makes family stay-at-home-movie-night a little more special. For us to take the 7 of us to the movies, the tickets alone would cost us almost $65.00. Add in popcorn and a drink, and we're looking at a movie viewing experience of well over $100! No movie is worth that. Ever.

3. Laundry detergent~I make our own laundry soap for home use, but sometimes I forget to make the soap in time. Store-bought soap also travels a little easier during vacation travel!

4. Packaged pasta~Usually we use brown rice or sprouted wheat pastas, but during the summer, I'm not particular. With all of the potlucks, picnics, and camping, boxed pasta is fine, just as long as we use the healthy stuff the rest of the year.

While these are not our normal, they do store well, are great for traveling, and save us money.

Because I plan on taking a fabulous trip someday.

So how did my first extreme couponing trip go? I came home with...

*10 barbecue sauces (no corn syrup!)
10 packages mac & cheese
1 dijon mustard (large jar)
1 bag of dog treats
1 dishwasher detergent
1 rinse aid (for cleaning out the dishwasher)
2-100 oz. liquid laundry detergents
*4-1.5 quarts key lime sherbet
4 bags of frozen hashbrowns (for camping)
2 Father's Day cards
*2 sun tea glass jars
*1 hanging flower basket
10 movie-sized boxes of candy
10 packages of various pastas
*4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 lb. butter
4 bottles of loratidine for allergies (36 count)
3- (44 count) packages of feminine products
1 hair mousse
1 jar no-sugar pasta sauce
1 balsamic vinegar
60 double rolls of toilet paper (the good stuff!)
*4-2 liter bottle of soda
*2 bags of Sunchips
*6 organic limes
*4 organic lemons

$312.51~total amount of goods purchased
$240.82~total amount of money spent
Savings of: $71.69

(I also earned a $.20/gallon gas discount at one store, and a $.10/gallon discount at another.)

So, maybe my first trip wouldn't be considered extreme, but for us, I've never saved that much just by clipping coupons, loading the store cards with in-store sales, and keeping an eye out for buy 1, get 1 free deals. The items with * next to them are products we purchased for our daughter's graduation party, so without those the total spent would've been about $80.00 less with the same savings. 

I guess there's always next time!☺ 

Are you extreme couponing? Do you have any special tips to share? I would love to learn more!


Jamie said...

I love the show but they have ruined it in a way.We use lots of coupons but since the show we have stepped up our couponing.I havent saved like those families but I have started a good stash of razors and soap as well as brownie mixes and a few of baby wipes(we use them in the van).
The way I see it is we are saving what we can and that counts.

Eleanor said...

I have seen adds for that show, but never checked it out. I am really impressed, but I am not sure that it would work for a small family like mine (3-people). What do you do about brand loyalty? For example, my husband will only use Northern Brand toilet paper. I used to clip coupons, but after a while I just quit, because I never used them.

Kim said...

Eleanor~I understand brand loyalty...we have favorites that we won't compromise on either. I hope you'll check out Part 2 later this week~I'll be addressing that and what to do with coupons that aren't used!