Have you seen this show on TLC?

Image courtesy of TLC.com

It’s incredible to watch people with carts and carts of product walk out of the store paying as little as $5! I got inspired and began couponing about 2 months ago…but nothing like this. I just take the coupons from the Sunday paper and try to match them up to what I need every week. To be honest I’m not very good at it. Sure I save my $0.75 here and $0.55 there, but I’m most definitely not a serious competitor. I mainly use coupons for cereal, yogurt, and frozen veggies. So I come to you, blogland, for advice and suggestions. Are you a super saver? Care to share your tips? From what I gather, in order for me to make a significant difference in my grocery bill, I need to:

  1. Buy 12 papers every week.
  2. Spend 30+ hours a week matching coupons to different stores.
  3. Buy items I don’t really use or care to stock pile.
  4. Have an exorbitant amount of space to store things.

Am I way off? It just seems ridiculous to me to come out of the store with 112 bottles of Tums or 40 tubes of toothpaste. Is there a more middle-of-the-road approach? Help a wanna-be saver out! I promise I won’t clear any shelves in your city!

32 Responses

  1. Michelle

    Yeah I am at a lost for this one. If I coupon, I spend HOURS doing it and my grocery bill seems to be higher because the coupons are for stuff I would never buy πŸ™

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Michelle- yeah it’s tempting to buy the stuff that’s super cheap even though you wouldn’t normally (for some reason the Special K cracker coupons always tempt me the most haha).

      Reply
  2. Kelyn Nightengale

    I agree, this show is both inspiring & completely crazy. I cut coupons like they are going out of style, and I’m very organized, so I do take the time to match up the ads form my 3 favorite stores. But I still spend $100 a week. The only thing is that I went from spending that amount and just getting by to now having a small shelf in the closet of our office for “pantry goods” and a deep freeze that’s almost full.
    But none of the stores worth shopping at in our town double coupons, so I’ve never had a $5 haul. It seems silly to try and convince people that this is normal.
    The worst part is when I do stock up on something (50cent Powerade – Holla!), my son will say “Mom, this is just like couponing”, UGH!

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Oh man Kelyn, I wouldn’t even bother without doubling…you’re a better woman than I! Do you buy multiple papers? I don’t find there to be a whole lot of usable coupons in one.

      Reply
      • Kelyn Nightengale

        I just asked my neighbors to bring me their coupons when they are done. With kids in diapers, those coupons are always welcome!

  3. kami

    this show is both fascinating and disgusting to me. it’s almost gluttonous the way they look at their items when they’re done. it rips off the store, and what about the rest of us who don’t have that 30 hours a week to clip and dumpster dive. i’m all for having hobbies, but really? i have a full time job and a house to take care of by myself.

    am i jealous i can’t do that kind of math? sure. do i wish that i didn’t have to pay for anything? of course. but sometimes i wonder if it’s really necessary or just good tv. either way, i watch because i can’t stop myself.

    although i thought that the couple of peeps who did it and then donated a bunch of stuff were really cool.

    that said, saving money is a great thing. i have a few couponing rules. i use coupons on what i need, and what i need often. this means paper products, cleaning supplies, vitamins/pain relievers, beauty items, restaurant discounts, and stuff like this. i try not to waste my money on processed food, and that’s hard with couponing. and really, who needs 118 sports drinks?

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Kami I had to laugh at your comments…so true and funny. You’re right, I can’t tear myself away! It’s sort of like Swamp People….ever watch that? (now I’m really embarrassing myself!)

      Reply
  4. Sandie

    I know what you mean. I have started using smart couponing and just printing coupons for what I actually use. I did save 17.00 this week. Not a whole cart full free, but that’s enough to buy some awesome craft supplies. I guess as long as you don’t expect to save millions you can do it. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Thanks for your input Sandie, $17 is a great savings!

      Reply
  5. Ami w/AliLilly

    I’m with Michelle I still spend more when I use coupons because it’s for stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. I use coupons, maybe just a few. Scoring the occasional free butter is cool, but 57 buckets of cream cheese is just crazy! I’m mean is it really worth ALL the trouble to have an extra bedroom full of TP and paper towels!?

    NOW, Jenni with Sweet Pennies From Heaven actually GOES THRU the adds, matches coupon deals and blogs about it!! It’s GREAT!! I’m subscribed to her blog via email and just wait for her post. I’ll skim thru it and pick out what great deals she finds!! Takes a lot of work out of the work of couponing I DON’T want to do already!! πŸ™‚

    http://sweetpenniesfromheaven.com

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Thanks for the heads up on that blog Ami! I’m with you on the stockpile room LOL!!! My hubby would kill me if I turned his man cave into a grocery store!

      Reply
      • Ami w/AliLilly

        Ya know……IF I could afford it, it would be SO WORTH the look on your husbands faces if we filled up their man caves with toilet paper, paper towels, tampon boxs!!! HAHAHAHA! “Sorry babe, I am a SUPER COUPONER!”

      • Lovely Crafty Home

        HAHA I know!!! How funny would that be!!?? Until I got served with divorce papers… LOL!

  6. Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co

    that show is crazy! I myself am not a good couponer… while I am a smart shopper, food is one of the few places where the hubby and I splurge to make sure we’re well-fed (in a healthy way, of course). My sis-in-law has 5 kids, homeschools, runs a clothdiaper/baby clothes business… and STILL manages to coupon! Don’t know how she does it, but she saves tons and doesn’t buy in crazy bulk like on the show!

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      I know what you mean Ashley- growing up we ate out a lot and bought organic groceries, so while I’d be inclined to buy an article of clothing on sale…I never really thought about saving money on food. We don’t buy a lot of the things I see on the show (like 600 packages of ramen-like noodles…). That’s amazing that your SIL has the time. I can barely carve out enough time to cut the 5 I use lol.

      Reply
  7. Lauren

    I haven’t read the above comments, so I’m not sure if what I’m about to tell you someone has already said, but as a fan of the show, I feel like I have to give it a better name for you!

    First off, you do not need to buy 12 Sunday papers. You can buy 4-6, and while that may seem crazy it’s not. You then have 4-6 copies of the same coupon which REALLY comes in handy if you hit a serious sale! Second, it’s not as time consuming as you think…there are a few blogs I follow that pretty much do the work for you, telling you where the sales are and what coupons to use. Honestly, I just started clipping and saving and then I go to the blogs to know where I should shop! These women dedicate their lives to this…I don’t have that kind of time, so I let them do it for me! I have yet to walk away spending nothing, but I have saved some SERIOUS cash just by going where they say to go. You do have to shirk some brands you might like, but you also don’t have to buy anything and everything. I buy what my husband and I need, and shirk on brands of deodorant and bodywash if I have to. I’m a big fan of using Pond’s face wipes to remove my makeup and I walked out of Target with 6 30ct packages for $6! They are usually $5 a piece! The downside is my husband and I eat a lot of produce, so I’m looking into utilizing farmers markets instead of the grocery store if that saves me some $$ since the stores don’t really mark that stuff down. But grocery and household items….there’s always a deal! If i can save some money by shopping where the blogs tell me and by clipping coupons, that means more money for home renos and clothes πŸ™‚

    I’m a nurse and work 40 hour weeks and still manage to find the time. Honestly, even if you spend a half hour at night clipping and blog searching…it pays off! Wish I did it sooner!

    Reply
  8. Lauren

    I’d also like to add that my husband and I have made a commitment to donating products we can get great deals on but don’t personally use to our church or local shelters. And a lot of these people on the shows do that as well.

    Reply
  9. Amy @ this DIY life

    I just couldn’t stop myself from commenting πŸ™‚ The people seen on Extreme Couponing are completely over the top…and unethical and sometimes illegal. It’s kinda frustrating for those of us who are real couponers. Okay, that’s my soapbox, I’ll get down now. We don’t have any stores around here that double or triple coupons, but you can definitely make an (ethical) go at couponing. I work 50+ hours a week and still do it thanks to other people who are willing to do the leg work for me. There are a lot of blogs that have the same information, it’s just a matter of finding the one you like best. I follow Frugal Living and Having Fun and I know a lot of people follow Money Saving Mom. I highly recommend trying it! I’m fortunate to have a SIL who is a couponing genius so I’ve learned a lot from her. It is possible for a family of 3 to eat on a budget of $60 a month (and eat well) without shelf clearing or using coupons on things that aren’t listed on the coupon just because the numbers match. My brother and SIL do it πŸ™‚ If you do it, here’s a cautionary tale: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/may/15/tdcomm02-coupons-are-great-when-used-correctly-ar-1038252/
    Last weekend I got 150oz Purex for 99 cents (holla)! And you don’t have to buy 12 newspapers. I buy coupons on Ebay – correction, I pay for people’s time to clip coupons on Ebay and I also buy just 1 or 2 newspapers except when a couple weeks ago when there were like 5 inserts, that week I bought 3 papers.
    That was a really long comment…sorry Rachael πŸ™‚ If you want to see a haul my SIL made, check out my “All about the Q” blog post.

    Reply
  10. Heather I.

    I coupon at drug stores to get toiletries for cheap or free, but food is so much harder. I try to avoid processed foods, so a lot of the coupons aren’t of interest to me. I do clip and print those that may be pertinent, and then file them in an index card box organized by type of coupon. Then like most couponers, I wait and see if there are sales or store coupons I could stack them with. But my goal is just to make the items cheaper than the STORE BRAND I would have bought instead. My goals are realistic. I want to save money, but my time is worth WAY more than what is required to Extreme Coupon (plus, that show kind of reminds me of Hoarders in a way). I also do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart, where they will price match any advertised price. I take the time to go over all the grocery store ads with my grocery list and coupon box on hand, so I can do all my shopping in one place and still get the lowest prices of the week. Last week, between my coupons and price matching, I saved about $16 off what would have been a $75 total purchase. Like Sandie said, it’s not a lot, but it is saving money that can go for something else. Plus, every little bit adds up.

    Reply
  11. gisela

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I feel the exact same way you do. I watched for a couple of weeks and then i thought, this is ridiculous. What a headache. Who has that kind of time???? I think the show is a bit much.

    Reply
  12. Jenny

    Yeah, that method does sound extreme. The best way to save money is to match the coupon to your store’s sales. Don’t have the time? Check out http://www.savingsangel.com and they do all the work for you (for a nominal fee). You can save a lot using internet coupons if you don’t want multiple copies of the Sunday paper. Just buy what you want and you can still save 50-70% off. We donate our extras all the time. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  13. Julie

    As for the produce… you can REALLY save by planting a few pots! And then save a day here and there to freeze/can. Produce is super-expensive this year, I find, and I can get hundreds of zucchini, tomatoes, yellow squash from the plants in my yard…

    What else? Oh, bread freezes really well, so I buy it in bulk (well, my bulk is 4 loaves) on sale, and have it when I need it (lots of PBJ’s around here!). And if you don’t eat much bread, this works well too- you can buy a loaf and split it up, or just pull out a slice and toast it. Simple. Nothing worse than throwing your money away when you toss moldy bread!!!

    I freeze meat, too. Buy it on sale. Manager’s specials, straight to the freezer- pull out when you need it and cook immediately. Our store marks meat down by a few bucks when the date approaches… money in my pocket!

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Thanks Julie!! I really want to start a garden, but I sort of have a black thumb. I’m trying though-this year I have a couple of tomato plants! We do buy meat and freeze it when it’s on sale too!

      Reply
  14. Kayla

    I totally agree with you! We were watching the show the other night, and the lady bought a ton of pain reliever just so she could get it free. I don’t get it…you’ll never use that much before it expires! I can see if you were going to donate it and even make care packages for our soilders, but just to have a huge stockpile…no thanks! I do use coupons here and there, and it’s awesome to save $$, but I’ll be honest I’m not going to go buy 10 newspapers, and then spend 30 hours a week just clipping. I work full time, plus cook, clean, and try to have a life after all of that. It just seems a bit rediculous to me!

    Reply
  15. Rachel

    I am a casual couponer–I follow Stephanie on twitter (@Couponing101) and she posts coupon matchups for stores in my region once a week. I give a brief skim through and if there are any rocking deals I follow up on them. I can go weeks without using coupons and then use a dozen in one trip, just has to be a good enough deal to invest more than a few minutes of my time. Steph is in my area but she also has links on her site to other stores and areas, as well as a really good response post to ‘extreme’ couponing. The thing I appreciate the most is how ethical she is–she doesn’t promote using coupons in questionable ways like so many sites do, and she also keeps an eagle eye out for produce and organic coupons (yes, they do exist!!!)
    http://www.couponing101.com/2010/12/realistic-couponing.html

    Reply
    • Lovely Crafty Home

      Thanks for the help Rachel…maybe finding a local twitterer will help me out!

      Reply
  16. Super Coupons

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll
    be book-marking and checking back often!

    Reply

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