How to maximize coupon savings

Yesterday we came across this amazing YouTube video of a Good Morning America segment profiling Kathy Spencer, who runs How to Shop for Free. By using a few techniques highlighted in the video, she manages to feed her family of six for less money than you probably have in your sofa cushions right now.

Here at Unclutterer, we were wondering how much of Kathy Spencer’s shopping involves buying unneeded items just because of the savings, so we did a little digging and found this an eHow article by Spencer in which she addresses that particular issue:

People always say why get something if you don’t need it, or say I don’t need 10 jars of peanut butter. My answer to that is if you don’t need it someone else will. I did not need the 6 diabetes monitors that I picked up at CVS while shopping with Inside Edition but I got them because I will be donating them to my local Council on Aging, a lot of people have diabetes and don’t test regularly because they can’t afford the meter.

If you’re willing to actually make an effort to find a good home for such “deals,” then it’s probably not a bad thing. If not, you should probably be much more critical about whether you really need something that’s on special.

It’s actually quite surprising to see how much money you can save with a little planning and effort. We tried out some of Spencer’s tips yesterday at our local Harris Teeter and managed to save about 30% off our total bill.

And if you need a way to organize your coupons, check out this Unclutterer post from March on repurposing brag books.

57 Comments for “How to maximize coupon savings”

  1. posted by Sara on

    I recently got into the coupon “game”, at CVS in particular, and it really is amazing how much you can get for free or close to it. It definitely takes effort and planning but it does pay off, and it’s fun to see how much you can get for the least money.

  2. posted by Maryann on

    The problem is that most of the coupons are for Junky foods. What about fresh meat, produce, dairy and bakery items? I imagine the Spencers eat a lot of processed food. Also I donate things to charity too but I don’t think I would spend so much time finding free things for the poor.

  3. posted by BEth on

    RE: “I did not need the 6 diabetes monitors that I picked up at CVS while shopping with Inside Edition but I got them because I will be donating them to my local Council on Aging, a lot of people have diabetes and don’t test regularly because they can’t afford the meter.”–NOT TRUE. the pharmaeceutical companies GIVE the meter for free to force you to buy the corresponding testing strips. By giving a certain brand meter to a charity, you’re just forcing those patients to use a certain brand testing strips, which may not be compatible with what they can get from other charities. Ask the council what they need.

  4. Profile photo of PJ Doland

    posted by PJ Doland on

    Maryann-

    It’s not just processed food. The video shows Spencer buying fresh scallops and fresh perch at the seafood counter.

  5. posted by Alex on

    Wow. Even if one could not use many of the items, this is a fantastic approach to finding donations.

  6. posted by CraftD on

    I share Maryann’s concern. This is a wonderful technique for stocking up on non-perishables, but there is virtually no produce. It is rare to see coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. Add $20 in produce, and you can still feed a family for $24 a week!

  7. posted by Sherry Banarsi on

    Very admirable for being cost-effective, but unfortunately it isn’t practical for everyone. Coupon saving and organizing is nothing but a hassle, and it would be worth it if it didn’t apply to processed junk food most of the time. It’s certainly possible to save on produce and meat using coupons, but I reckon that the savings wouldn’t rack up as significantly as they did with Spencer.

    There’s still some good tips to be gained from her shopping habits, however, particularly that of stocking up by buying bulk items.

  8. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    Also, my guess is that Mrs. Spencer has a garden in her backyard. No need to buy fresh veggies at the store if she’s growing her own and canning for the winter.

  9. posted by Celeste on

    This is kind of a wake-up to me that it might be more beneficial just to write the food bank a check, rather than clip coupons or even buy and donate items. That to me is decluttered giving. I think some might feel that a gift of money is open to abuse, whereas a gift of goods or service is under my/our control. I can see that point, but I have no reason at this time to feel that about my local organization. Maybe they can use the cash to fill in the empty spots on less commonly donated shelf items.

  10. posted by Donna on

    Isn’t buying and storing large quantities of stuff you don’t need the opposite of uncluttering?

  11. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Donna — Reread the article. I think PJ responds to this well in his post.

  12. posted by amy twomey on

    I am loving your blog. Just wanted to let you know.
    amy :)

  13. posted by Anon on

    For me, coupons are often more clutter than savings since I try to avoid the heavily processed items the coupons are good for and the store brand equivalent is often cheaper anyway where I live. Still, this is a good reminder to avoid mindless shopping and be more aware.

  14. Profile photo of

    posted by reyecat on

    how much time and gas does she spend looking for coupons etc….

    I think you would have to be a very specific type of person to make this lifestyle work for you… I am not one of them.

  15. posted by Caroline on

    I was curious as to how much time per week she spends clipping coupons, scanning flyers, and trolling the Internet for coupons or freebie offers.

    That was never really touched on in the segment. If it is a large amount of time, for the average person, it would be very difficult to replicate.

    From what I can gather, coupons work very differently in Canada. Does Unclutterer (or anyone else) know of anyone in Canada that uses a similar system, and how it would work up here?

  16. posted by David on

    It’s a shame her family will grow up to be obese and diabetic from eating 90% frozen pizza or food along with some crappy fish.

  17. posted by Shalin on

    Pretty amazing… but not sure it’ll a scaled down effort would be useful for single folks like myself…
    –S

  18. posted by Recyclican on

    I agree with reyecat – she states in the video clip that she spends a couple of hours looking for coupons each week. That time, *plus* the time it would take to drive around to each of the stores and look for those specific items that are covered by those coupons, *plus* the time I imagine it takes to broker a deal with the store employees…for some of us that time is worth more than free processed goods.

  19. posted by TL on

    Every time I seen one of these stories, I’m always reminded that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Stores and manufacturers don’t just give things away to people who game the system. Rather, they just pass the costs along by increasing prices for everyone else.

    You’d think that all the stories like these would lead stores to change the fine print on their policies.

    Not to mention that these people are time murders. How would you like to be behind the person at the meat counter who’s asking to have her 7 pounds of whatever packaged into 7 one-pound containers? Or the person who wants the check out clerk to ring up his order as 6 different purchases?

  20. Profile photo of

    posted by sherrybanarsi on

    “You’d think that all the stories like these would lead stores to change the fine print on their policies.”

    I think they’ve caught onto to it already. Granted I am not a coupon hunter like this woman, but I have never come across a single coupon (department store or otherwise) that has ever allowed combining one coupon with another. In fact they are generally very restrictive in their policies, one of the many reasons I have been dissuaded from clipping coupons in the first place.

  21. posted by Gina on

    Wow — turning into a coupon slave is way NOT the way I’d choose to declutter my life.

    Glad they work for this woman. I have yet to see examples, though, of coupons being anything more than 95% or greater for processed junk food (or household/cleaning products). If she’d getting fish or fresh veggies with coupons, that’s an exception rather than the norm.

    I have much better success just shopping weekly specials on fresh items, and totally bypassing the whole coupon scam…er, game.

    Also, throwing in my voice with the person above — don’t see it being such a great thing to buy excess diabetes monitors and donate them.

  22. posted by Loren on

    I used to mock my roommate for clipping coupons, then I tried it and saved about 20% of my bill. However as a single lady my bill was only 25$ to begin with so for 5$ it wasn’t worth the effort or the price of buying a newspaper to clip them out of. If I had a big family this type of shopping might be more applicable.
    I would however endorse searching for online coupons when purchasing online. I saved around 80$ on Christmas gifts by searching for website sale codes on the internet before ordering. Pages like this http://www.retailmenot.com/
    But I always do my shopping, fill my basket then look for coupons to avoid buying things I don’t need just to get a deal.

  23. posted by jw on

    No doubt she’s mastered gaming the coupon system, because it’s her JOB! The rest of us can maybe learn a few tricks, but no one else is going to get nearly the same results without putting in the hours of effort. Personally I’d rather use the time to work my own job and use my paycheck to buy stuff like a typical shopper. Also Kathy mentions in her article “The trick to shopping for free is to stockpile.” Which may work for someone with a big house, but not so much for my studio apartment. :(

  24. posted by Looby on

    While I agree that this lady does have it down to a fine art I agree with others comments that there is not enough fresh produce and way too much processed food.
    Just how far does a 1/4lb of perch go in a family of 6? I imagine that they’ll be eating the two frozen pizzas and the sidekicks.
    Also from the video it looked as though she marched straight through the fruit and veg section without a glance.

  25. Profile photo of PJ Doland

    posted by PJ Doland on

    You don’t have to be quite as extreme as Kathy Spencer. When Erin and I went shopping yesterday, it only took us about 15 minutes of preparation to save over $40. This was without changing the type or quality of food we usually buy. One coupon was for $5.00 off the exact type of baby formula our doctor recommended. Another was for almost half-off fresh (not frozen) shrimp.

    Before testing the techniques in the video, we also assumed that coupons were usually just for junk food. This is not true. Take a closer look at your Sunday newspaper.

  26. posted by Kristin on

    I am not all that familiar with this woman in particular, but I am a self-made couponer and it can work without becoming one of those crazy coupon ladies with 700 rolls of tp overflowing your linen closet. I spend about 2 hours a week clipping/printing/organizing coupons, and there are myriad websites that will do coupon matchups with the ads for you so you don’t even have to do that much work. I get free produce all the time, and by not spending money on my other items, I have that much more for fresh fruit and veggies (can’t speak to meat as my freezer is full of venison and locally caught fish). I am not so extreme as to say I will only get things that are free, but over the course of the past year I have saved $4500 on food and household/personal items. That works out to an effective $43 an hour for my time and efforts, which is almost 4 times what I make hourly at my day job, so to me it is worth it.

    I don’t chase every deal, I don’t make 7 grocery trips a week. The time spent at the store is the same as when I did not coupon. You just learn when to latch on to a good deal and make a special trip, and when to let it go because the next one is not far behind. As far as stockpiling, it does take some space so probably not for those with studio apartments, but my stockpile is neatly organized.

  27. posted by Start Saving with Coupons on

    PJ, I applaud your efforts on this blog to help folks unclutter their lives. It looks like this particular topic, though, has touched a nerve. ;)

    My bride and I started couponing for our family of seven (including my Mother-in-law) two years ago. Our first year shopping with the buy-low-and-stockpile mentality, we saved around $18,700 on our total grocery purchases (about $7,200 was direct savings off our spending, and $11,500 was in the items we were able to stockpile).

    During that year, it was very rare that we would purchase items we wouldn’t use. In those rare cases, it was because the store or the manufacturer paid us to take them, meaning their purchase generated cash back which was used for other items on our needs list.

    I agree with TL that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Those willing to pay more for the convenience of having what they want when they want it allow those who are willing to wait and shop the sales and stack savings to save thousands of dollars.

    The stores where you can often get the best savings are the ones with the highest markups. These make their profit on the front end of the inventory. Once they’ve made their profit, the drop the price to clear out the inventory for the next shipment. Those willing to wait (and have planned accordingly) are rewarded to much better deals.

    Gina is partly right about many coupons being for household/cleaning products. There are also many for health/beauty products. These yield some of the best savings, and are otherwise some of the biggest budget-busters to a grocery bill. The savings you can get on these categories can easily offset organic, healthy, and whole food purchases.

    Plus, many more organic food producers are also offering coupons on their products, so you can still get some pretty good deals on those items as well.

    The goal is to look at your entire grocery spending and not pay more than you have to.

    Hope that helps.

  28. posted by Sarah on

    I think what this really boils down to is that you have to be *really* organized in your shopping lists – no last minute trips because you’re out of toilet paper or OJ, no impulse buys at the grocery store, knowing your meal plan in advance or planning it around sale/coupon items so that you can maximize your savings.

    I think an abbreviated system like this can work for single people such as myself – I have coupon books and I’m ALWAYS forgetting them and then have to buy the item anyways. Working coupons into your meal planning/regular household purchases is probably a good way to force yourself into uncluttering those aspects of your life by planning for shopping trips in advance.

    But I agree with a lot of the commenters – many of the items that are featured in the Sunday circular are items I rarely purchase – PopTarts, fruit snacks, frozen dinners, etc etc. However, my store circular regularly features coupons for free or hefty discounts on produce and fresh meats, so those are things to look out for. Now if I would just remember to use them :)

  29. posted by Roshni on

    There are stores, like Target and Rite Aid, which allow you to stack their store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon!

    I tried the coupon game for a while. As said above, there are many women who have personal blogs matching coupons to weekly deals (and I salute them for this seemingly selfless usage of their time and effort), but it still is a lot of time and trips to different stores to be satisfied that you actually got a good deal.

    Also, most of the stores which carry cheap to free produce and other non-perishables are Harris Teeter, Krogers etc which I have not seen in the West Coast.

    Finally, the sites often talk about bulk purchases which would involve multiple coupons for different sources (either by buying multiple newspapers or buying coupons online) which just doesn’t make sense when you add up time and effort!!

  30. Profile photo of

    posted by loripax on

    More power to you if you can make this work with your time, lifestyle, and diet, but I’m with those who find that the coupons available out there are very rarely for things I actually use. Maybe once a month I find one.

    Coupon distribution must different across the country, because the ones around here are almost always for processed food or huge-brand-name toiletries of some kind, and we eat/use very little of that. Maybe a dozen times over the years have I seen a coupon for fresh produce, but it was usually tied in with the purchase of something I don’t use (e.g., get $2 off bananas when you purchase this sugar-laden cereal, or $1 off broccoli with the purchase of chemical-laden crescent roll dough so you can make these weird appetizers in this free recipe).

    And very few stores around here accept coupons you print out at home, because of fraud concerns.

    There are coupons in the paper every week for baby care stuff like diapers, formula, and all that, so if you’re in the market for that stuff, sure, clipping coupons is totally worth your time, and it’s easy to rack up big savings very quickly. But for me, an occasional 50 cents off six cups of yogurt isn’t worth a slog through four coupon inserts every Sunday.

  31. posted by Jessica on

    I think the kind and quality of coupons you get depends on where you live, and which paper you’re getting. My local paper has virtually no coupons for grocery store items, and I’ve noticed the larger metropolitan paper has varying coupons depending on whether you buy it in the city, suburbs, outlying areas.

    I’ve seen differences in the coupons and ads in the same paper, same day between newsstand and subscription.

    Personally, my experience is that 90% of the coupons I see in my local paper are either junk food, products I won’t buy, or non-generics that are still higher in price with the coupon.

    I’ve found my best coupon experience to be with Target (regular, not SuperTarget), especially since they’ve been sending out coupons for their rebranded generics.

  32. posted by Gina on

    My approach to grocery shopping is to keep it simple. I have 3 different stores closeby where I’ll go shop. I never want to go to more than one once a week.

    Two of them are “big name” stores — Safeway and King Sooper. The other one is a local indie stores where I shop less frequently, but when needing to stock certain things like meats. This is because I have particular preferences in the sort of meat I buy. This store lets me buy the chicken and buffalo — yes, I said buffalo, I won’t touch beef — that I prefer, it being locally produced by an independent company and free-range, yadayada.

    Otherwise, I have the store cards for the big name stores and I just shop off the “store specials” for other items — I don’t spend any time in advance looking through circulars, I just go off the signs they have posted. On any given trip to this store I generally save anywhere from $10 to $40 dollars or more. But I haven’t wasted away a good part of my week overthinking it.

    The thing about this post is — coupon shopping is fine, but it’s about frugality. I don’t see this as an uncluttering issue. What’s more, I think there’s a point to be made that buying in bulk can lead to serious storage implications. And THAT is an uncluttering issue.

  33. posted by Jessica on

    Also, I have to agree about the statement regarding the free glucose meters.

    As the spouse to a Type 1 diabetic, we were given free meters at the hospital upon his diagnosis. A box of 100 test strips for the brand of meter my husband uses costs $120, and he tests upwards of 5-7 times a day, and my Type 2 father in-law tests 3 times a day, you can burn through those pretty quickly.

    For people who don’t have insurance all the meters in the world aren’t going to help if you don’t have test strips. (Generic strips are cheaper, but generic monitors aren’t generally given away by diabetic educators, hospitalists, etc.)

  34. posted by RV on

    I’m sure Mrs. Spencer is growing lots of vegetables in her backyard during the Massachusetts winters. Either her family is eating a lot of junk, or she’s not telling everything.

  35. Profile photo of

    posted by OogieM on

    Easier than trying to deal with coupons which, like others have mentioned, are almost always for junk food we never purchase. I found that store member savings makes up the difference. King Soopers aka City Market and Safeway both have cards that you can scan that get you discounts on stuff. Best of all it’s often, in our area, for inexpensive imported fruits and veges we rarely get otherwise so it’s a good deal. Also good for some canned goods and often for cheese like Tillamook that we like. Watching those specials and stocking up on canned or relatively non-perishable items when they are at the member savings is a good deal.

    Sam’s Club is the cheapest places to buy things like paper towels, TP, printer paper and other true non-perishables. Our savings on dog food alone from Sam’s pays for the trip to the store, 75 miles away. We go once a month

  36. posted by M on

    I’m all about saving money, but since I work for a major discount retailer, I have seen a lot of people take advantage of coupons. When you get $200 worth of items that you probably don’t need for next to nothing, don’t you wonder who eats those costs? We wonder why prices keep going up and there are fewer people working in stores to help us. And yet there are people who get 20 jars of mayonnaise (yes, I have seen this) for 5 cents. How can stores just give away merchandise without any effect to the overall system? They can’t. I think that taking advantage of coupon systems is dishonest and finding ways to work around the store’s policies is dishonest. Besides the fact that much of what you get with coupons is not healthful food and even though it’s “non-perishable” it will expire eventually, possibly before you can use it all. And don’t feed me that line that you “donate” your unnecessary freebies to a food pantry because I believe that of very few people.

  37. posted by Gillian on

    Caroline is right that there is little of this in Canada. I have never been able to stack coupons, and most offers are marked that coupons cannot be combined. They may also say that coupons can only be used on regularly priced items. Personally I’d cancel coupons here. One thing I saw in VT that I liked was shelf where people left their extra coupons for others.

  38. posted by infmom on

    I am not a dedicated coupon clipper, but I do use them as often as I can. The grocery chains used to double every coupon, but now a lot of them have either stopped doing that or cut back severely. There also remains the problem that coupons are mostly for national brands, and it’s been my experience that many times even if I have a coupon for the national brand, the store brand costs less.

    As for the blood glucose meters, as a diabetic I’m only too well aware that the monitors are the cheap part and the test strips is where they really stick it to you, no pun intended. If any diabetic would like a meter absolutely free, just go here and fill out the questionnaire. The meter was rated tops by Consumer Reports (I carry one in my purse).

  39. posted by Kathryn Fenner on

    I’m just a bit annoyed at smug gardeners. We live in town, walking distance from my husband’s job, on a tiny postage-stamp, energy-savingly heavily shaded lot. What garden? We don’t have enough light to grow tomatoes–I can manage a few herbs in pots on the deck.

    Baby formula? I won’t judge. I just won’t judge.

    Here in Columbia, South Carolina, Publix has a Sunday/Monday one-cent coupon that sometimes is for milk, but is often for cookies, chips, or hot dogs. Our newspaper coupons are for processed foods. Yes, the grocery ads often feature buy one, get one deals on fresh and frozen whole foods, and I plan meals around them, but clipping coupons is for junk food, by and large.

    CVS and Walgreens do have many freebies if you are paying attention, for shampoo and the like, but how much do you really use? It’s wholesome food that runs up my bills.

  40. posted by ms. brooklyn on

    Add not having a car to being a one-person household that doesn’t consume much processed food and has no storage space, and it’s absolutely not worth my time. Cheers to those for whom it is, but my own decluttering efforts are better exerted elsewhere.

  41. posted by ms. brooklyn on

    “Baby formula? I won’t judge. I just won’t judge.”

    Ya better not. The Dolands adopted. ;)

  42. posted by Amy on

    Wow! I am surprised at how many people are discrediting this or who see using coupons as controversial!

    First of all, this person has made it her job to find savings and teach others what is possible. She says that she spends a few hours per week handling her coupons, etc. Most of us are unwilling or do not have the time to do this. If she is a stay at home mother, this is something that she may have learned how to do out of necessity.

    Manufacturers and stores know that even given the knowledge (the responses here = case in point) that most people are still going to shop traditionally, and so what in the world is dishonest about it?? She is holding onto coupons until an item goes on sale. And she is asking about the stores policy. She doesn’t say that we should haggle or try to beat the system. What is wrong with that? If we want to talk about what is driving up the cost of food, who can rationally argue that it is coupon use? What about advertising, merchandizing costs and oil cost?

    On another note, uncluttering doesn’t mean not storing anything. Her pantry looked extremely organized to me. As a matter of fact, I’d say that to be able to do what she does to that extreme is the result of extreme organization and systematic planning.

    Also, a lot of people eat processed food, for better or worse, and are paying full price for it. But, my market does offer many coupons and incentives for fresh produce or dollar amounts off of the next bill. Plus in my family we use a lot of frozen vegetables which are just as healthy (or more) than the fresh veggies that have been sitting around the market and then my house for a week or two. When you’re on a tight budget it is hard to be hoity-toity about everything being farm fresh and organic.

    And lastly, no one in her family looked obese.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  43. posted by JJ on

    I second the comment about it not working like this in Canada. You can’t combine coupons here, and coupons that give you something for free are rare indeed.

  44. posted by MM on

    to M – 11/24/2009

    i cannot believe you have worked at grocery stores as you claimed. do you know who eventually pay for coupons? it’s the manufacture, not the grocery store. even those store coupon on the flyer, most if not all, are paid by manufactures. retail store lose nothing accepting coupons, plus the store makes a little more (coupon handling fee of 8c each usually). if the mayonnaise coupon doesn’t limit how many each customer can buy, what’s wrong with paying 5c for it? where do the ‘dishonest’ and ‘work around store policy’ come from? please elaborate.

  45. posted by MM on

    seriously, why the heck do the store employee and people care what a customer do to his purchases? as long as a customer has paid for the item legally, the item is his property and he can do whatever he wants. eat, donate, trash or send the item to MARS, what the hell? i do not see any dishonesty but i did see huge jealous.

  46. posted by M on

    I’ve worked 7 years at the same discount retailer/ department store and I’ve seen a lot of abuse of the system. That’s all I’m saying. I’ve seen people literally put up fights to try to use more coupons than they should or to combine coupons so that it actually is worth more than the actual cost of the item and then insist that they should receive the difference…like they should be paid for taking this merchandise off our hands. I’m not saying everyone does it and I’m not saying people shouldn’t use coupons. I’m saying there is a growing abuse of it. As I said before, I feel that trying to take advantage of the system is dishonest. I am entitled to that opinion. Happy Thanksgiving.

  47. posted by MM on

    to M

    i know there are bad couponers abusing the system. they should be blamed. but before judging a customer, you’d better know your store’s coupon policy. some stores do allow overage when combining a store coupon and a manufacture coupon. if you happen to work at one of those stores, don’t blame the customer for ‘receiving the difference’. you should complain to the store management and/or manufactures and ask them to change the coupon policies. if the store is not happy with a customer buying 20 mayonnaise, put a limit on the product beforehand. don’t blame the customer if the customer is within the rules. the store can use gimmicks to allure customers and the customer has the right to play with the system as long as the customer doesn’t break any store rules/laws. if the store is not happy with coupon, stop accepting it. that’s it.

  48. Profile photo of

    posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    :-( We don’t have these coupons as a general thing here in Australia. If we did, I could justify (to myself; hubby has no issue with my not working) not looking for a job next year – being able to get groceries for $0.01 would mean at least $5,000 in our bank account.

  49. posted by Barbi on

    Hi,

    I am in Canada as well. I have the same concern about all the process food. I would say most of her pantry had items I would never buy. Our family’s food bill is pricey but it is because I buy lots of fresh food virtually no process food, I feel it is an investment in our health now and in the future. I personally, can’t eat most processed food now, the salt is WAY too over powering for me and I don’t generally like the flavorings they use. However, this has given me a renewed interest in using more coupons for the items that I can.

  50. posted by TL on

    “What is wrong with that?”

    As I argue above, nothing comes for free. One person’s cart full of free groceries come at the expense of marginally higher prices for everyone else.

    Yes, spread out over a population, it only amounts to a few dollars, which is not a big deal to me. But it is a big deal to someone who works two jobs but still can’t get a cart full of free groceries because she doesn’t have a computer to get these coupons, can’t spend the time to research deals, and can only buy what she can fit into two bags that she can carry on the bus. I guess I would just like to see more resources going to those who need them rather than to those who will use them to be marginally more comfortable.

    So I suppose that it’s not the actual couponing-as-middle-class-mom-profession that I object to; it’s the idea that people who can afford things nevertheless take them for free because they are sooooo “savvy.” Couponing is a symptom of a more pervasive rot.

  51. posted by dogfood coupon guy on

    Great info. this has been a fun read!

  52. posted by Leonie on

    @ ms brooklyn – GOOD ONE!!! :-)

    yeah, the “baby formula, I won’t judge,I just won’t judge” comment seemed judgemental already but then I won’t judge ;-)

  53. posted by Leonie on

    BTW, I googled “kroger’s coupon policy” and found this:
    http://pgesaver.com/Sites/PG_e.....rce/Kroger

    apparently you don’t have to clip coupons.
    I may try this. I’ve attempted to clip coupons but end up throwing them out or not bringing them with me. I also think my time is worth more than I can compensate in searching for coupon savings and driving from one store to another. But not having to clip coupons might help!

  54. posted by h20 on

    I second with MM….

    to MM, though I don’t live in ‘coupon-mania’ country, I really hate it when some groceries stores crews looked down (as if we’re beggers, not bargainers) on the couponers while we are trying to to take advantage of some offers/discounts whilst the said offers/discounts was the stores policy

    so what’s the point of giving away discounts/freebies when you actually making fun of the recepient / talk them back etc

  55. posted by Weekly Round-Up: Being Thankful — Almost Frugal on

    [...] How to maximize coupon savings | Unclutterer [...]

  56. posted by Melanie on

    What a great thread! I am blown away by the comments about coupons being a waste of time and that coupons are only for junk food. Wow, that is soooo not true.

    Here’s my story–I’m 31, make a great salary, live with my boyfriend and our two dogs. My boyfriend is a carpenter and hasn’t worked much during the last year. While I wouldn’t say we are hurting financially in any way, who doesn’t love to save money?

    About a year ago, I saw the lady that started the site “The Grocery Game” on Oprah. I looked into it and thought, I don’t shop at Walgreens, Jewel, or CVS. What’s the point? But, then a few months went by and I knew that I could save some money on my grocery bill, so I decided to take another look and came across a TON of very useful websites.

    Now, I admit, at first I thought coupons were going to be just for junk that we don’t really eat anyway, but let me assure you, I don’t think that anymore. Clementines, anyone? Buy one get one free on a dozen eggs? GE light bulbs, toilet paper, dog food? The list goes on and on with the coupons that are available.

    It has gotten to the point with household products such as deodorant, shampoo, razors, etc. that I have a 25 cent rule. If I can’t get it for 25 cents or under, I don’t even buy it. There is no reason to ever pay full price on any of that stuff when there are Walgreens and CVS stores around. Plus, the amount of makeup and toiletries I have donated this past year would blow your mind. Not to mention the food I have donated, which includes 3 of the most sought out items at my local food pantry—peanut butter, tuna, and spaghetti sauce. We are not talking the crappy cans of veggies that have been sitting in a pantry for ages. And one other point—the amount that can be saved on household products alone can more than cover your organic/vegan/whatever food expenses.

    So, seriously, I am really organized. I realize this coupon thing is not for everyone. I spend 1 hour on Sundays printing my list from assorted websites that post that week’s deals, and clipping and organizing my coupons. Then, when I hit the store, I am in and out and DONE. I don’t have spreadsheets with my savings or anything like that, but looking at my savings account, I will tell you I save hundreds a month doing this, we have more food (are filet mignon junk food?! pork chops, chicken, veggies?), shampoo and toothpaste than GOD and I donate mass quantities to a food pantry and a women’s shelter. Plus, and I am not kidding, my savings paid for my boyfriend and I to go on a cruise to Alaska (granted, I booked that through Travelzoo, so it was a steal).

    So, M–if I can combine your store’s sales with a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, you bet I’m gonna get 20 bottles of mayo for 5 cents! I’ll keep one or two for myself and give the rest away.

    And TL–this whole community of couponers out there, and believe me, there are many of us, donate so much stuff to the less fortunate. I don’t “need” to coupon. I have no credit card debt. I have a great paying job. I am very, very grateful for all of that. Many of the (mostly) women who shop like me are also in the same boat. But many are not. Check out some of the blogs and forums and you’ll see that many of these couponers depend on their savings. Maybe they’re stay at home moms or their husbands lost their jobs, whatever. The point is, we “crazy couponers” out there like to spread the wealth. We realize we don’t need 20 bottles of mayo or whatever the product may be, but if we can get it for less than the price of one and donate the rest, why wouldn’t we?

    And last thing, then I’ll step off my soapbox. The stockpile is the key to successful couponing. A few weeks ago I bought 24 rolls of Scott Paper towels for under $2. Some people might think that it’s crazy to buy that many rolls, but I think it’s crazy to buy just one for the same price. Ah, potato, potahto.

  57. posted by Nurit on

    Hi,

    Supersize the savings. Most coupons have a disclaimer that says you can only use one per item. However, you can still get multiple discounts on the same product, because there are two types of coupons–one issued by the manufacturer and one issued by the stores. The store coupons can be found in Sunday circulars, store fliers and on retailer and product websites. Clip both types of coupons for the same item and you can really rack up the savings.

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