Why I chose to shop smart instead of extreme couponing. The extreme couponing fad has a massive following, but some of us who work full-time don’t have time to use the techniques a lot of these blogs & sites suggest. Now I make coupons work for me.
If you haven’t seen or heard about TLC’s extreme couponing television show then let me introduce you to it. They’ve shared the stories of hundreds of ordinary people who refuse to pay full price for any of the items they buy. These documentaries are of people who have taken saving money to the extreme! Hence, the new term “extreme couponing.”
Though I am sometimes jealous of the amazing deals these people are able to rack up I can honestly say that I will never become an extreme couponer. Trust me, I’ve tried. I was originally lured in by the sweet ring of “free stuff” while watching these people have coupon after coupon swiped to deduct money from their shopping total. After collecting a ton of coupons over the course of a month I quickly realized that this task was more than I could handle. Anyone who tells you that it is easy to clip dozens of coupons, organize them, plan shopping trips at multiple stores, and actually execute the shopping trips is LYING! It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to achieve the results shown on TV.
Since I didn’t have the time or attention span to pull off such mega shopping trips as those seen on TV I decided I would continue to utilize coupons in moderation and at my leisure. Besides, I have a household of 2 plus my cat so we definitely have no need for 20 tubes of toothpaste.
I developed my very own technique of smart shopping. I’m not claiming to patent anything I’m just saying that instead of working around the coupons, I make them work for me. Here are a few ways that I accomplish this:
1. I mostly shop for clearance items, which means less than half of my shopping list comes from a circular. Stores will still accept coupons for clearance items. Clearance prices are the rock bottom prices for which stores will sell merchandise. A lot of times the prices advertised in circulars aren’t really sales at all. They are just advertised regular prices. Don’t let them fool you!
2. I make the bulk of my purchases seasonally and after holidays. The best time to shop for holiday/nonperishable/seasonal items is after the holiday/season! Almost every item will be marked significantly less. A perfect example is charcoal. The day after Labor Day this item routinely gets marked at least 50% off. That’s when I whip out my coupons from earlier in the season to stock up on it for next year.
3. I utilize store incentive programs. Rite-Aid & CVS give great discounts for loyal shoppers. Rite-Aid’s rewards program even allows you to have up to 20% off of every item in the entire store once you reach a specific spend point.
4. Since I live in a 4 season part of the country I go shopping with a 90 day rule in mind. I only buy what my family will use within the next 90 days. I found that this method allowed me to save A LOT of time when planning my shopping trips. Extreme discounts generally tend to happen in repetitive waves so I plan on catching them during that 90 day period.
5. I don’t feel pressured to use every coupon! Knowing that if I miss one sale it’ll likely come again in another 90 days is what keeps me from spending frivolously just to save $0.50 because I didn’t want a coupon to go to waste. I know that there will be another sale and another coupon just like it soon.
Smart shopping is about tailoring your saving habits to your family’s level of consumption and planning accordingly then doing most of your shopping during seasonal sales while matching up coupons. It’s as simple as that.
Published in: Homemaking