You don’t have to be a genius to be an extreme couponer. You just have to DECIDE to do it, and then determine that you are going to give it your best shot for at least a month.
Why a month? Well, YES, you can get savings on your very first shopping trip, however in a month’s time you can gather your Sunday inserts, read up on how to maximize savings, print the “hot” coupons for items that your family will definitely use, and then wait for the best sale price to come around.
The first month I started couponing (September 2009), I kept our grocery budget at $400, even though I knew that extreme couponers were spending WAY less than that. I shopped the stock-up sales (according to the blogs I read), but I also had to feed my family! For that first month, I continued to shop at Winco for the basics (it’s the only grocery store in my area with consistent super-low prices). However, in that first month, I was able to stock up on lots of cereal, granola bars, frozen veggies and more from the high-end grocery stores that have gimmic sales (Safeway, Albertsons, etc.). Guess what I didn’t have to buy in month 2? I ended up with money leftover in my grocery envelope.
The second month, I had a coupon binder full of coupons that I had clipped from the Sunday papers I’d been buying. I bought 4 papers per week (for 99¢ each) and now had a nice little stash. NOW that I had the coupons, I was able to take advantage of more of the coupon match-ups that the coupon blogs were posting. I had that particular RP (Red Plum) or SS (Smartsource) insert, so I had the appropriate MC (manufacturer’s coupon) to score the really sweet deal. PLUS, I was getting better at spotting the good deal vs. the junk food (no one needs that many fruit snacks). I bought bread, veggies, TONS of canned veggies, yogurt, soup, toilet paper, medicine, and more. (OH, I can’t believe how much money I spent on deals back then! LOL!)
My third month of couponing (November 2009), I realized that I was buying JUNK (fruit snacks, cookie dough, brownie mix, Pillsbury rolls, etc.) that I didn’t need to be buying. I felt like I wasn’t being a good steward of the grocery budget or my new hobby skills. I decided to cut my grocery budget in HALF. We went from $400/mo to $200/mo for a family of 4.
That fourth month, I was so excited to see if I could keep our budget to just $50 a week, but I was also pretty nervous, too. It turns out that the first month of the $50 a week experiment, I came in under budget! THAT is when I knew that I could do it. I could be an extreme couponer, who stocks up on non-perishables when they are at rock bottom prices, thereby freeing up my grocery budget for lots of meat, dairy and in-season produce.
In a little less than 4 months, I became quite adept at using coupons. And, you can, too!!
Stay tuned to hear about how I learned the ins and outs of becoming an extreme couponer!