If you’ve read my article on 10 TV shows to watch to save money, you might have jumped on board with watching Extreme Couponing. The show is based on coupon lovers who don’t just save a few bucks, but they save hundreds with coupons.
Even if you aren’t interested in going to the extreme, here are a few things you can learn from the show.
Photo Credit: sdc2027
What to Learn from Extreme Couponers
- Stock up on basics. Unfortunately, you’ll notice on the show (and in real life) that there aren’t always a ton of coupons for fresh meat and fresh vegetables and fruits. Plus, unless you’re freezing items, you can’t stock up too much on these items that go bad quickly. However, you can stock up on basics and foundations for a meal. Load up on broths and stocks for a quick soup, gravy, or to enhance a dish. You can stock up on pastas, canned vegetables, seasonings that don’t go bad too quickly, rice, beans, and more. This way you can easily add fresh vegetables and meats to make a meal.
- Stock up on toiletries and cleaning supplies. If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll notice that many of the couponers have an excess of toiletries and cleaning supplies. This makes perfect sense since these items aren’t going to expire for a long time and possibly ever. When you notice these items are on sale, you have a great coupon, or better yet both, stock up on body soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, toilet paper, shampoo and conditioner, hair products, cleaning supplies, and whatever else you’ll use.
- Label expiration dates. Since they are buying a large amount of items at the same time, many couponers label each item so they can keep better track of expiration dates. Depending on the food, once it expires, it is a waste of money. Keep track of expiration dates on your items. Put items that are expiring sooner towards the front of your fridge and pantry so you use them first.
- Stick to a budget. On the show, the couponers always know to the penny how much they are going to spend with no surprises. Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, save more money, or just want to stick to a budget either way, it can be difficult to keep your food costs at the number you want. A good way to stick to a grocery budget is to plan your meals ahead of time. Try to use items you already have on hand. Then, browse the sale ads, any coupons you have, and the store’s website before you go to the store so you will have an idea of what’s on sale to plan. Make your list, and calculate how much you’re going to spend on this list.
- Keep track of what you’re putting in your cart. Many on the show are walking around with a calculator and organized list. Even if you’re not attempting to get your order for free like many of the couponers, you can still learn a valuable lesson here. First, an organized list can help you stay on track. You can accurately plan meals and snacks so you’re saving money by eating at home and avoiding fast food. Having a list also eliminates double buying, buying things you don’t need, and those tempting impulse buys. Second, having a calculator lets you know how much you’re spending. This takes the guess work out of it, and there will be no surprises at the register. You won’t have to worry about spending more than you budgeted for. We’ve all had those moments at the register that we see the total and think “how did that happen?” or “what did I even buy?”.
- Don’t leave the house without a coupon. The extreme couponers never leave the house without a coupon. They creatively find coupons online, in the newspaper, on products they already purchase, and they even ask friends and neighbors to give them coupons they aren’t using. Many of the couponers think of coupons like money. Take some time to look for coupons before heading out to the store. Check out the store’s website to see if you could find sign up for e-mails with deals and coupons or maybe get a percentage off for signing up.
- Share your money saving journey with others. The show often features couponers sharing their coupons with others, hunting for coupons with their family and friends, shopping with others, and sharing what they scored with all of their valuable coupons. It’s a good lesson on sharing your money saving experience with those closest to you. Sometimes people are embarrassed to be money conscious or share they’re on a budget. But you realize that those couponers on the show that are sharing that part of their life with their family and friends, are happier that they did. Letting your family and friends know you’re on a budget, trying to save more money, or trying to get out of debt, can feel like a weight lifted off of your shoulders. Also, it’s a great way to share your tips for saving money and learn how your friends save. It’s also a nice way to let people know that you may not always be interested in going out to expensive restaurants or paying for pricey concert tickets or other events.
- You can always save money, even on special occasions. Even the savviest spenders sometimes turn off their money saving skills while throwing a party or going on vacation. But Extreme Couponers shows that there is no need to stop saving money just because it is a special occasion. In fact, the show often shows couponers going into overdrive to host a party, special occasion, or wedding for a very small amount. Don’t throw out your budgeting skills for a special occasion. As they do on the show, plan ahead. Whether you’re traveling or throwing a party, you can always find ways to cut the cost, find good deals or coupons, and discover ways to save.
How has using coupons saved you money? Whether you use coupons or not, what qualities in a couponer are valuable lessons for saving money? If you have had success in using coupons, what advice can you give us?