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Extreme Couponing? Not For This Military Family!

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Extreme Couponing? Not For This Military Family!

How many of you have seen Extreme Couponing, the reality show on TLC?  Or is it Bravo?  A&E?  Heck, they all seem to run together to me now...

By the way: When did the word "coupon" become a verb?  

I tossed the show on my DVR a couple weeks ago and watched a few episodes.  I learned a lot.

I learned that there are ladies who can invest 30+ hours per week clipping, organizing, planning and executing their weekly grocery trips.

I learned that some of these ladies were downright dishonest with the couponing: taking papers from neighbors' houses, dividing up their transactions to multiply how many coupons they could use, etc.

I learned that with those practices, they could cut their food bills down to $20 per week...and even used the stockpiling techniques to build up a balance on their food bill which they could apply to non-couponed foods, such as meat and produce.

While giggling at this incredible drama the show applies to these ladies (really?  you're mad that you only saved 96% instead of 99% on your grocery bill?  you didn't want to spend more than $10 on $1000 worth of groceries?  then put back 20 of those 50 bottles of mustard!), I learned that I have really slacked off on the work I used to put into my own "couponing".

Jacob actually gets a kick out of watching the show.  Ever the numbers guy, he gets SO excited when they show the cash register reducing that final total.  He's cheering on the ladies and everything!

Of the 8-10 profiles of women on this show that I've seen so far, I've only liked the ones who gave their stockpiles to charity, or to family members.

Extreme Couponing was the name for this movement before the TLC show brought it to mainstream America.  I used to be a diligent (no, not "extreme", just "diligent") couponer from before I got married.  Growing up I helped my Mom clip coupons from the Sunday papers, scoured the sale ads and organized everything in Mom's coupon keeper.  I'd see her save 15-20% on her grocery bills, and it was as simple as tailoring our family's meal plans to what was on sale and what had good coupons.

When I grew up and out of my house, I continued clipping coupons.  I did most of my grocery shopping at my local commissaries, so there weren't the same type of sale ads as in civilian grocery stores.  It was nice having all those special commissary-only coupons.  Also, when we were stationed overseas, our commissaries would take 6-months expired coupons, whoo hoo!

I got a bit lazy in North Carolina.  I began to shop at specialty stores more (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's) which features a lot of non-mainstream brands for which you rarely find coupons.  We weren't near a commissary either.  Our food bill skyrocketed.  I attempted to keep tabs on the sales at our local Harris Teeter and Food Lion stores, but with a newborn and a toddler, it wasn't a priority in our lives.

I severely slacked off clipping the coupons while living in Nebraska.  We didn't subscribe to the newspaper there, which would have been about 1/2 of our coupons.

As fuel prices climb, food prices are climbing industry-wide, and my days of spending $80-100 per week on groceries are now OVER.  It's now a struggle keeping the food bill under $150 per week.

It's time to get back in the saddle and invest a couple hours per week in clipping and organizing coupons!

I don't have the time, fortitude or space to do the "Extreme Couponing".  We are a military family and stockpiling 50 jars of peanut butter simply isn't practical.  Perhaps if I get more diligent I can apply some of the techniques for charitable uses.

I need to take time to get smart on the online, printable coupons available to me.  I also need to learn to mix things up a bit and venture into other stores.  I recently learned that my local Publix grocery store will take coupons from several competitor stores: Winn-Dixie, Target and Walgreen's.

I found this website that features a "Super Couponing 101" guide.  This is probably more my speed and I plan to check it out.

How many of you clip/use coupons?  Are you an "extreme couponer"?  A "super couponer"?

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At Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 11:50:00 AM CDT , Blogger Jennifer said...

I am horrible at clipping coupons and I always have been. Feeding a family of 7 is getting expensive though and I've been thinking about starting.

At Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 2:30:00 PM CDT , Blogger The Country Cook said...

I clip coupons. I probably only save about 8-10% on our grocery bill but I figure it is something, right?
Also, I sometimes forget the Sunday paper but I do use and I only use coupons for things I would actually use.

At Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 4:33:00 PM CDT , Blogger Maryann Goldman said...

Up until 6 months ago, I always clipped coupons each week. Life just got too busy, and I haven't been clipping or using. I hope to get back to it. I know there are a few things I buy that I'm missing savings on.

At Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 9:47:00 PM CDT , Blogger Bengela said...

I was big into coupon-ing at WP since I shopped at Meijer instead of the commissary. I once got free groceries (but only $10 worth w/coupons, sales and store rebates), but have moved away from it since I notice coupons are usually just for newer or more expensive products. I price compare the product w/coupon to the generic brand and usually leave the coupon there on the shelf for someone else to use if they so desire, but best value for me is usually the generic store brand these, I'm trying to eat more healthy, so unless they are making coupons for fruits/veggies and meats, I'm outta luck these days! Like your earlier post, it's hard on your body to eat those processed/boxed meals w/all that sodium all the time!!

At Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 10:00:00 PM CDT , Blogger Major Mom said...

Boy do I miss Meijer! I'm trying to use the online sources more diligently, which is like money falling into your lap...and it's easier to browse and only choose the things I would actually buy.

And Bengela is right, so many of the coupons are for things like Hamburger Helper, Fruit Snacks and Trix Yogurt. (Trying not to judge, I have to admit I buy "fruit snacks" for my kids sometimes). To go more fresh = no coupons.

At Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 6:55:00 PM CDT , Blogger Bengela said...

ur blog post made me watch extreme couponing last nite!! i wanna save hundreds of dollars now too! i love looking for a good deal like it's a scavenger! but the sensible side of me tells me that i really don't need 82 bags of kitty litter....

At Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 8:31:00 PM CDT , Blogger Major Mom said...

Did you watch the marathon? I watched 3 of them in a row last night! Like watching a train wreck, lol! It definitely has me re-inspired...and it IS like a scavenger hunt! I'm debating subscribing to the Pensacola paper just to get more coupons! Ha ha!

How about a coupon clipping service?

There you go!


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