You don't have to go to extremes to be a savvy shopper

I’m an extreme couponer. I admit it, I’m a bit odd. I love to show people how I use coupons to earn a living.


If you ever see a redhead with glasses shopping with a coupon binder, that’s me –
don’t be afraid to stop and talk. Because of TLC’s show Extreme Couponing, I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what I do. I have tried my best over the past year to distinguish my work from the bad behaviors seen on television and prove that not all extreme couponers are that extreme.

Yes, I really shop with my coupon binder in the cart.

I prefer to shop alone, but usually have my youngest child with me. However, I don’t put my child in the main part of the cart with all the groceries threatening to crush her. I’ve seen the pictures of the many parenting “fails” that have been posted on Facebook or sent through chain e-mails of sleeping children being covered with purchases.

For the record, my youngest either rides in one of those car-type shopping carts or she pushes her own child-sized shopping cart to “help” momma.

I don’t have 64 bottles of mustard in my house. Currently, I have one in my fridge and one in the pantry. My kids do not have toilet paper under their beds, and not one room in my house or garage resembles my own personal convenience store.

I will not clear shelves of sale items. My only exception to this rule is when I happen to get the last one or two items there. As long as the product is well stocked, I will usually get four to eight items that are on sale. I will buy larger quantities of single yogurts and cans of pet food during sales, but even then I try to minimize my impact by getting several varieties. I always try to leave products on the shelf for others.

I don’t hop around from store to store. I usually stick to my closest grocery store for all my needs unless I see items I want to stock up on that are on sale somewhere else. If that’s the case, I will do my shopping for the week at the store with the deals I want. I usually go to one grocery store and one drug store a week.

I organize my stockpile to prevent unnecessary buying. I use small plastic shoeboxes which fit under the bathroom sink to hold toiletries. Toothbrushes and toothpastes, deodorant, razors and makeup all fit nicely in those boxes. When I notice one of the boxes getting low, it’s time to start hunting for deals. My husband jokes that our household runs under a “feast or famine” philosophy – I either have several of an item or I’m out and about to buy more.

I am aware that I hold up a checkout line. If I can, I avoid this by shopping during non-peak hours. If that’s not possible, I try to make sure I’m going through checkout when the lines are short. If someone comes up behind me with just a few items, I let that person go ahead. I do my best to have all my coupons ready so the cashier can go through them quickly.

I do not spend tons of time comparing deals and doing online research. I consider my coupon class to be the busy parent’s guide to smarter shopping: I teach all the secrets of extreme couponing, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy 20 toothpastes just because they are free. Why not buy just enough to last to the next sale?

Unlike what you see on television, you will be able to do the same things I do once you’ve gathered your coupons. I have no special agreement with the stores to bend coupon policies for the sake of publicity.

Now that you know more about how I shop, come and see for yourself how you can keep more of your money in your wallet. I’m happy to show you how.


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