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Extreme Couponing

Good shoppers use coupons to save money. Extreme couponers have something a bit more in mind whenever they scour their Sunday circulars: they want stuff for free. That's right: Free, as in zilch, zip and zero dollar.

With a bit of knowledge and a lot of planning, the practitioner of "extreme couponing" can get a lot of stuff for free (or practically free). Billy Baker of The Boston Globe has the fascinating story of the couponing craze:

Spencer’s approach requires significant planning and effort, a willingness to stand up to hostile cashiers, and, some say, a lack of shame. But the reward she offers is too good for her thousands of devotees to pass up.

The goal is not simply a good deal, she says. “The goal is free.’’

On that seminal Sunday last month, a combination of factors collided to bring an entirely new pack of extreme couponers to the scene at once, unable to resist that first taste of “free.’’ After the Great Toilet Paper Rush, nothing would be the same.

“It was the day that sent a seismic wave through coupondom,’’ said Melanie Feehan, a veteran extreme couponer who arrived at a Rite Aid near her home in Plymouth shortly after it opened, only to discover the toilet paper had been cleared from the shelves by a man who bragged to a clerk that he had already emptied three other Rite Aids that morning.

“When a newbie couponer is birthed they are very much like baby vampires,’’ Feehan wrote on her popular blog, The Coupon Goddess. “They go on a couponing rampage that wreaks havoc at every store they descend upon . . . Carnage.’’

Link


Agreeing with Ratz, and adding that this store credit thing seems like the biggest source of 'free' items with these offers. I'm not even sure that we have a system like that in the UK at all (someone please correct me if I'm mistaken!)
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I've known many people who spend many hours per week collecting, organizing and planning their coupon strategies. They go to different stores at different times for different things to get the best savings. And they often can reduce a grocery bill by 75, 80, 90 percent. But, jeez, seems like a lot of work to me. I'd rather do other things but it sounds like it's sort of a hobby for them.
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I love to save money, so I looked at this woman's website. Looking through 3 or 4 pages, I decided this hobby is not for me.

1. Most of these stores do not have an outlet in my town. She seems to do most of her shopping at three chain drugstores.

2. Most of the items featured I neither need nor want.

3. I don't have a printer; the cost of a printer, paper, and ink would likely be more than I personally would save on merchandise.
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We clip coupons, but nothing like that. It saves us maybe 5-10 dollars every trip.
I've never seen a coupon that didn't say you couldn't use multiple one/duplicate it etc.
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As an employee of a major grocer, I can tell you that you are not supposed to use multiple manufacturer coupons for one item. We only get reimbursed for one, so if they override and allow you to, the company is losing money. They will often let people make multiple purchases though. Although when people go through express with 4 orders of 12 items, they get the ire of everyone else around them.
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At a couple grocery stores in my area there are double coupon days. If you're an at home mother/father, I think this is a great way to help build household savings. You may not be bringing money in, but you are preventing money that would have otherwise been spent stay in the bank. There are websites run by people like this to help others who don't have the time to scour the dailies. On average I save 50% based on the help of these websites. I think I only save that little because I don't buy things I don't need.
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Also, The way these things are free usually, is if the store is already running a special that doesn't involve a coupon and then you combine a manufacturer's coupon on top of that. The point of the article was the action and result, so the method wasn't really explained, but I think it helps make any discussion on the ethics of it less argueable.
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I am a coupon freak. My record is $75 off one shopping trip. I have NEVER been able to get everything for free. I've been able to get a few items for free, I even have decreased my needed grocery budget by about $100 a month. The closest I've come to "free" was this week the store had a buy one get one sale on toothpaste, and I had 3 coupons for $1 off the same brand. I paid .75 for each tube.

I think people who do this are usually spending so much time and effort and gas going from store to store, that it's not saving them as much as they think it is. Sure, you saved $100 last week, but if you spent 30 hours looking over ads to match up the coupons and a tank of gas running around town to the cheap places, are you really coming out ahead?

Also, a big problem is location. What might be $4 here, might be $1 or $8 somewhere else. It's all about what kind of shops you have. Are there double coupon places where you live? etc...

I spend on average 2 hours every 2 weeks doing my grocery list. I have 2 websites that I rely on heavily plus the Sunday paper.
www.coupons.com and http://www.thecouponclippers.com

between those 2 and my Sunday paper, I do quite well. I clip/order coupons and I try to match them up with sales when possible. I look up my grocery store's ad online, and type out my list (along with which items are coupon items) and shop. I've found that it makes it MUCH easier to use the coupons if I incorporate them into my list if I can. I make sure to look over "extra" coupons that I don't plan to use so that if I find an unadvertised sale for a coupon item, I can pick it up.

If I shopped at the only double coupon store in my area, I'd save more on the coupon, but the cost of everything is so much higher, it's not worth it, so I stick to my "home" store unless I hear of an AMAZING deal that I can use some coupons with. I wish more stores would do double coupons. I remember when I was a kid, it wasn't uncommon to see TRIPLE coupons.
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Just a quick "disclaimer" a lot of times the "no duplication" on coupons means, no photocopies. As long as you're purchasing the item on the coupon for EACH coupon, I've never had a problem getting the cashier to take them.

Also, I really have a bad taste in my mouth over the "Spencer’s approach requires significant planning and effort, a willingness to stand up to hostile cashiers,"
statement. I have NEVER had a problem with a cashier not wanting to deal with coupons. In fact, it's the opposite, they're just as excited to see how much I've saved. The only time I have EVER seen someone have a problem with using coupons is if they're trying to use expired ones or not reading the coupon and trying to use it for something it's not issued for.
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Oh, and one more thing, just because you CAN get 100 items for free doesn't mean you SHOULD. What person needs 100 boxes of light bulbs? You have to STORE it all. I refuse to fill more than my "large-ish" kitchen pantry for that reason. If you think about it, you're paying to store all that free stuff. Even if you own your home, you're paying a mortgage and instead of using a room for a spare room or other purpose, it becomes "pantry number 4."
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I don't know how much the cost of storage plays into it, it's not like you pay a different amount depending on how much food your store. I mean, the cost is subjective. Half of my basement is storage for canned and dried food stuffs. I don't consider it expensive inventory, some other people would I'm sure.
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Yeah, you have to make sure you're not using ones that say that, but I don't have much trouble with coupons saying that. Most of the ones I see that say "one coupon per visit" are for restaurants.

I think that's why people have trouble with cashiers taking them. In reality, it's not much more work for them. If anything, it helps. While they're scanning coupons, their sacker can bag the groceries and the cashier is able to just scan paper instead of heaving things over the scanner. If I was running into so many nasty "extreme couponers" that I was being yelled at and intimidated daily, I doubt I'd be very helpful either.

I was in Target the other day and watched a lady FLIP the EFF out over a 25 cent coupon on her make up. It was a month expired. She threw such a tantrum the manager ended up letting her have it. If you need 25 cents THAT bad, don't buy the make up.
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I never grasped how this worked since every coupon I have ever seen it say "one coupon per purchase" and even if that store allows doubling its still only 2-50 cent coupons applied to one item priced at 4.00 or with in-store sale price 3.25. it never ends up free.
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The trick with getting items for free is to do combinations of coupons that apply to the same item combining store coupons with manufacturer coupons. You can only use one mf'r coupon per item, but that doesn't apply to store coupons, and some grocery stores do double coupons. CVS and Walgreens also would give out gift cards for store credit when certain items were purchased. If you could do store and mf'r coupons on those items and get the gift cards you could actually make a positive credit on those things and wind up with free items and store credit at the end. My wife used to do this, though CVS caught on and fixed the loophole. It takes a lot of time to do and you mostly wind up with piles of toiletries and other things that you don't actually need a lot of. Just doing normal grocery store coupons when you go shopping works better, wastes less time, and doesn't leave you with a heap of semi-free things that you got because they were needed for a combo coupon but that you didn't actually want.
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I gave up trying to coupon clip. half the time the things that are in the offer, you don't want to buy in the first place. I could understand if I was very very low on income but I want to stimulate the economy and that doesn't happen by getting things for free.
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As a former supermarket cashier, I recall there was a woman who would come in with a huge amount of coupons...she used to annoy me, but after I realized that she was nice and this wasnt coming out of my paycheck, we established a nice repoire. I assume it was a hobby for her, but I was always curious about the quanities she bought (10 free trial size Advils?). To each his own.
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Did you know you can get all coupons doubled at Kmart this week? A $2 off coupon scans at $4 off! I saw the full list of deals on Cuckoo for Coupon Deals
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For the record, coupons do not say "one per customer" get real. Have you people seen a coupon? Most stores will let you have as many coupons as you want as long as you have as many items to go with the coupons.
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I would like to get trained by someone to do couponing..I am very interested and in these times I need to find a way to make my little do MUCH more!!!
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