Does extreme couponing work?

I just saw the show by the same name on TLC last night. And it confused me, does this actually work? How exactly does it work?

THis is what i have in my mind. There is a coupon for $1 off Cheerios…and then the store has a special 10 for $10.

You get 10 $1 off coupons, and buy 10 boxes of Cheerios, so they are free.

Im thinking of getting into this…although not to the extreme as the shows.

My question is does this sort of thing actually work. Can i get $600 worth of groceries for $50?

Sure it works. You combine sale items with coupons and a lot of stuff is almost free. Or you take advantage of double coupon days.

This weekend I got a coupon for 75 cents off cream cheese. It was on sale at the market for 99 cents. I paid a quarter.

Some of these people are silly though. What are you going to do with 300 toothbrushes?

I’ve read impressive anecdotes of it working, but it seems to involve a lot of compromise and strategic shopping. There’s a website whose name escapes me now that provides information on upcoming product specials at grocery stores in your area. The idea is to plan your shopping far in advance and stock up on certain goods when you can get the best bargain for them (which might entail buying 50 cans of soup, for example).

Well, yes, it does work…some of the time. Obviously, the show isn’t going to show you when they only save $10 on a $60 bill because they needed things like fresh produce, meats, dairy, etc… that go on sale less often and rarely have coupons compared to processed foods and sundries.

But if you’ve seen the show you know you’ll need to put a LOT of time into it and have a LOT of space to store 1-5 years worth of stuff…some are morons and seem to buy things JUST BECAUSE it’s a great deal and will only cost $0.25, so they get a hundred sticks of deodorant…nevermind if they will use that much deodorant in their whole lifetime…But others play smarter and don’t save as much as a percentage of the pre-coupon total, but are probably less likely to waste things.

I did like that the one gentlemen who got like a thousand boxes of free cereal donated them…I wish more of them would do that when they get things for free/get paid to get them (they claim that “oh, it’s on sale for $1, I have a $0.50 off coupon, and today is triple coupon day, so I get paid $0.50 to buy this!” but most stores have a policy that it can’t go negative, ie it will be free and that’s that.)

The first time I heard about this a few years ago I looked into it just for fun, and it really can’t be done in certain areas. You need the right grocery stores, and the ones around me (Price Chopper, Shaws, Hannaford) aren’t as good as other places. In fact, I think I saw a sign in Price Chopper the other day that said you’re limited to three coupons for the same item per trip.

What I don’t understand, I barely coupon but I do once in a while, and they always have a quantity limit to it. Like one box of cheeries per coupon. So where are they getting the other coupons? Do they buy ten newspapers to get the ten coupns? Does one store allow you to use multiple of the same coupon? I don’t know but it seems like they would have to drive to ten different stores to get the ten different boxes of cheeries. So it seems like they would have to spend more money than just what they paid at the check-out.

Also isn’t there some luck in this? Say there’s a coupon for a box of cheeries but they aren’t on sale during the couple of weeks the coupon is valid for so it seems kind of like a crapshoot.

The people on the show look a lot like hoarders.

Proper planning. If you study a store’s sale patterns, you can guess with some degree of accuracy when a particular type of good will go on sale. If you cross-reference that information with your coupons, you can maximise your savings.

As for the example of Cheerios, you just cut out 10 coupons. Plenty of papers laying around, not to mention the self-print coupons available online.

A recent newspaper artical mentioned the woman, who is the star of the show, had the newspaper guy deliver all the undelivered newspapers (hee-hee) to her with the promise that she would recycle the newspaper after clipping out all the coupons.

Then she also would call the store ahead of time so she wouldn’t be “wiping the shelves” clear of all items.

It wasn’t clear to me that the savings covered her time spent clipping coupons and stratagizing her buying events. Obviously when you’re broke and unemployed you have lots of time? Also it wasn’t clear to me that she “stops,” like maybe she is addicted on some level.

It’s fairly time intensive, and lot of people seem to wind up getting stuff they would never buy otherwise. Is it really a “savings” if you get a bunch of food you’re not all that wild about? If you have a bunch of kids it would be worth doing. If you are a single adult the savings are less compelling relative to the time invested.

I remember the cashier asking him what the hell he was going to do with two hundred sticks of deodorant.

Yes, some of them do seem like hoarders.

On the plus side I now know who the jerks are who wipe out entire sections of sale items.

These people are extremely organized so they can cross-reference sale items with the coupons they have on hand.

They also will spend hours preparing for a shopping trip.

When I did cut a lot a coupons ($20 or $30 off a $200 or $300 order) the manufacturers coupons almost always corresponded with what was on sale at the store that week. I doubt it was a coincidence.

The real downside was going through all that to get the big national brand for the same price as the always cheaper brand. Then after some actual comparison, discovering that there really wasn’t enough difference between the two products to justify the effort. :smack:
(Worse, sometimes the cheap stuff was really better!)

CMC fnord!

Worse still, at least where I shop the “best deals” and readily available coupons are for things like Extreme Nacho Bacon Oreos, or other horrifying products that the grocery store is desperately trying to move. I think I’ll pass…

Worst X-Games event ever.

It does work, but I do have one major nit to pick with extreme couponing. They always calculate the savings from the highest retail price rather than the price they would actually pay. Thus, they’re not looking at the additional/marginal savings produced by their clipping.

For example, most grocery stores already offer cheaper “member” prices if you show your store card at the register. If any guy with a card can get a $2.00 item for $1.50, then an extreme coupon deal that knocks it down to $0.50 has only saved $1.00 - not $1.50.

Now, I do understand why they use the full retail price to calculate their savings - it’s the only simple and reliable way to do it. But to justify 10 hours of coupon clipping with $500 of savings is misleading if you’d have got $200 off without any work at all.

The one episode I saw specifically said that the total reflected coupons, loyalty card prices and in store sales, but they didn’t specifically how much was due to coupons. I save a ton if you count loyalty card “savings”.

One woman on the show climbed through dumpsters. Another spent hours a day walking around grabbing ‘unwanted’ newspapers.

One woman said she spends 60+ hours a week couponing, plus having to go shopping several times a week to get each item at the correct store.

While I’m sure these people get good deals all the time, I’m sure they only buy the stuff they can get the best deals on when the camera is following them. 200 boxes of pasta and 100 bottles of hand cleaner?! Congratulations…

I watched a few episodes of this but decided to stop because I was spending too much time yelling at my TV. One woman was buying like 50 jars of mustard, and her husband commented that he didn’t even like mustard. Another woman was using a store coupon that gave her money off for buying $50 worth of groceries, and after she got to the store she found out that the coupons were only good for one use per customer, so she’s calling all her friends to find people who can come to the store and use the extra coupons for her purchases.

Some of the people mentioned buying coupons online, but the show wasn’t taking the cost of the coupons into account when announcing their savings.

Also, some of these people must be living someplace that doesn’t charge sales tax for food. How else are they paying only $50 for $1000 worth of food? All the stores I shop at the sales tax is figured on the cost of the purchases before the coupons are deducted.

A few years ago, our supermarket had double coupons, and I had many coupons for a bag of dry cat food. At the time, the coupons got doubled, and when they did, the food was free.
It took an entire evening, but I went from store to store buying three bags each of the cat food (store had limit of doubling three like coupons). There were many of these bags, enough so that my 4 cats ate their dry food free all that summer. I still paid for their wet food.
Now, however, the supermarket is recovering from a bruising strike and subsequent federal indictment, and double couponning is a thing of the past. Sad. But it was great while it lasted, to the tune of about $3000. per year.

Sales tax for food? Do you live in Zimbabwe? :slight_smile: