04. May 2011 · 7 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

How many of you have seen Extreme Couponing, the reality show on TLC?  Or is it Bravo?  A&E?  Heck, they all seem to run together to me now…

By the way: When did the word “coupon” become a verb?  

I tossed the show on my DVR a couple weeks ago and watched a few episodes.  I learned a lot.

I learned that there are ladies who can invest 30+ hours per week clipping, organizing, planning and executing their weekly grocery trips.

I learned that some of these ladies were downright dishonest with the couponing: taking papers from neighbors’ houses, dividing up their transactions to multiply how many coupons they could use, etc.

I learned that with those practices, they could cut their food bills down to $20 per week…and even used the stockpiling techniques to build up a balance on their food bill which they could apply to non-couponed foods, such as meat and produce.

While giggling at this incredible drama the show applies to these ladies (really?  you’re mad that you only saved 96% instead of 99% on your grocery bill?  you didn’t want to spend more than $10 on $1000 worth of groceries?  then put back 20 of those 50 bottles of mustard!), I learned that I have really slacked off on the work I used to put into my own “couponing”.

Jacob actually gets a kick out of watching the show.  Ever the numbers guy, he gets SO excited when they show the cash register reducing that final total.  He’s cheering on the ladies and everything!

Of the 8-10 profiles of women on this show that I’ve seen so far, I’ve only liked the ones who gave their stockpiles to charity, or to family members.

Extreme Couponing was the name for this movement before the TLC show brought it to mainstream America.  I used to be a diligent (no, not “extreme”, just “diligent”) couponer from before I got married.  Growing up I helped my Mom clip coupons from the Sunday papers, scoured the sale ads and organized everything in Mom’s coupon keeper.  I’d see her save 15-20% on her grocery bills, and it was as simple as tailoring our family’s meal plans to what was on sale and what had good coupons.

When I grew up and out of my house, I continued clipping coupons.  I did most of my grocery shopping at my local commissaries, so there weren’t the same type of sale ads as in civilian grocery stores.  It was nice having all those special commissary-only coupons.  Also, when we were stationed overseas, our commissaries would take 6-months expired coupons, whoo hoo!

I got a bit lazy in North Carolina.  I began to shop at specialty stores more (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) which features a lot of non-mainstream brands for which you rarely find coupons.  We weren’t near a commissary either.  Our food bill skyrocketed.  I attempted to keep tabs on the sales at our local Harris Teeter and Food Lion stores, but with a newborn and a toddler, it wasn’t a priority in our lives.

I severely slacked off clipping the coupons while living in Nebraska.  We didn’t subscribe to the newspaper there, which would have been about 1/2 of our coupons.

As fuel prices climb, food prices are climbing industry-wide, and my days of spending $80-100 per week on groceries are now OVER.  It’s now a struggle keeping the food bill under $150 per week.

It’s time to get back in the saddle and invest a couple hours per week in clipping and organizing coupons!

I don’t have the time, fortitude or space to do the “Extreme Couponing”.  We are a military family and stockpiling 50 jars of peanut butter simply isn’t practical.  Perhaps if I get more diligent I can apply some of the techniques for charitable uses.

I need to take time to get smart on the online, printable coupons available to me.  I also need to learn to mix things up a bit and venture into other stores.  I recently learned that my local Publix grocery store will take coupons from several competitor stores: Winn-Dixie, Target and Walgreen’s.

I found this website that features a “Super Couponing 101” guide.  This is probably more my speed and I plan to check it out.

How many of you clip/use coupons?  Are you an “extreme couponer”?  A “super couponer”?