The Super Side of Couponing

The Super Side of Couponing

Recently, as some of you might recall, my "Savings to the Extreme" post mentioned an "extreme couponer." To refresh your memory, this man clipped coupons like some of us breathe air. The documentary-type show followed him to a grocery store where he stocked up on all kinds of products at really low prices, like 80 bottles of hand soap for just over a quarter each.

Before this episode, I had been vaguely aware of people routinely participating in this couponing phenomenon, and since that post it seems like I cannot get away from it. From reading blog posts about nabbing $60 worth of products for under $6 to listening to a friend's babysitter excitedly sharing her story about scoring $40 worth of items (including Motrin -- the brand name stuff, not generic!) at a local drugstore for next to nothing, this notion of "super-couponing" is seemingly everywhere. And I'm biting. I've decided to try my hand at some super-couponing and share my experiences first-hand here on MomVesting. Hey, what do I (or you!) have to lose?

You're doing what again?

I made it no secret that I was attempting to learn the fine art of extreme coupon savings, and the first question I've been getting from everyone is: "What is super-couponing?" People are aware, of course, that using a coupon can help save a buck or two -- but super-couponing sounds like some kind of championship supermarket relay. My definition? Coupons + individual stores' sales and rewards = lots of savings for me.

I've always been one to look for ways to save money, especially as prices rise and our income remains pretty much stagnant. The notion of grabbing our household's everyday essentials (think toothpaste, shampoo, soap, cereal) at little to no cost is one I'm prepared to investigate. If the coupons are there for the taking and the sales are there to lure the consumer into the store, why not combine the two and save even more money?

So What's So "Super" About Using Coupons?

Coupons are neither new nor revolutionary. They're just ordinary squares of paper designed to get you, the consumer, into the store and buying a certain product. Occasionally, the coupons are a high enough value that you get a sweet deal even without doing any fancy finagling (like save $2.50 off of one package dishwasher detergent gel packs).

Other times, coupons require you to buy three, four or even more of a product for a few cents off (like save $1 if you buy three bottles of body wash). What makes "super-couponing" so super is taking an available coupon and matching it up to the store with the best price on the coupon's product -- all to yield a very low-cost product. Factor in "stacking" store coupons with manufacturer's coupons -- aka doubling coupons -- and savings can be even greater.

For example: Say a certain brand of peanut butter is on sale for 2 for $3 at the local grocery store. You nab a coupon for 50 cents off one jar. If you buy two jars, you can use two of these coupons, which would take a dollar off to make it 2 for $2. Find a store that doubles the coupon, and you now have an extra dollar off, which would make that sweet deal even sweeter: 2 for $1, or 50 cents per jar. Not bad, right?

How about a buy one, get one free example? Toothpaste is on sale at the local drug store for buy one, get one free. You have a nice additional coupon for $1.50 off of one toothpaste. So, if both toothpaste tubes can be had for, say, $4, you can take off the $1.50 coupon and get both for $2.50 (or $1.25 each). But if your drug store allows it, use two of those $1.50 off coupons -- because you are buying two toothpastes -- and now you have acquired both for $1.00 (50 cents each). That's a deal I'm willing to stake out.

Why pay full price if there is a sale? Why pay the sale price if there is a coupon? And why not use coupons to get the lowest price possible for those everday essentials? You're saving money that can be used towards the rising cost of produce, meats, gas, etc.

A Few Personal Thoughts

Are you sold yet? Ready to get started? What you might want to think about now, before getting those feet too wet, is what kind of super-couponer you want to be. That might sound a little strange, but I think it's an important concept that merits at least a few minutes of thought.

Are you going to go full throttle into the extreme savings world where you'll nab every single deal you can just because you can? You might not personally need or want (or know anyone who does) hair color, but if it's a great deal at, say, $2 instead of $6, will you get it? Or will you take a more relaxed approach, searching out the deals that are applicable to you?

What I'm trying to say is this: The notion of extreme savings is a hard one to resist, even if it's on things that we don't necessarily need. But even if you score the sweetest deal imaginable, you're still spending money, right? Even if you can purcahse a pack of adult bladder control products at 90% off of retail, you're still going to fork over 10% -- money that you may not need to spend. If you or someone else can use it -- great! Just keep in mind that even spending in modest amounts is still spending.

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Ravi Gupta's picture

Ravi Gupta wrote:

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 12:15 Comment #: 1

I like your last point and I feel that many fall prey to high percentages off. On reddit I've read several threads on it and I would say more often than not people spent money on items they don't need. In the end they aren't sticking it to anyone, certainly not the man since all these coupons are accounted for.
I've been interested in couponing before, however most of the items I buy are produce and no coupons are available. That being said if a person is into pre-packaged food then they are more likely to find several coupons.

-Ravi Gupta

Andrea's picture

Andrea wrote:

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 14:35 Comment #: 2

I think you have a great attitude towards "super couponing." Some people get carried away with the idea of getting a deal, so that's why it's good to place limitations on how much going after a deal really means to you.

For me, if something's free or I make a small profit with a coupon, it's likely that I'll get it (adult bladder control products included because they can always be donated to someone who needs them). Having the knowledge that things like toothpaste, soap, deodorant and shampoo can be obtained for free makes couponing a no brainer for me.

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 19:47 Comment #: 3

@ Ravi Gupta - I agree, it seems some are into the couponing to score deals on whatever they can lay their hands on; me, I'm in it to help save money on everyday items so I can put the savings into the rising price of produce, gas, etc. I would love to see more coupons out there for the "fresh" stuff in the markets (fruits, veggies, dairy, meats, etc.), but those seem to be pretty scarce.

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 19:49 Comment #: 4

@ Andrea- thanks! I'm just getting started with the whole super couponing aspect, and have decided that I do not want to grab items that we or family/friends/local charities don't need or use. I'm with you about the getting things for free or low cost (shampoos, soaps, etc.)- it is a no-brainer! Thanks for the comment!

 Random Links for Last Week | 101 Centavos's picture

Random Links for Last Week | 101 Centavos wrote:

Mon, 04/11/2011 - 10:43 Comment #: 5

[...] Extreme couponing at MomVesting. I’m not much for clipping coupons, but yesterday I did take advantage of one of my favorite ones, store coupons for a large purchase. This one was a $25 off on more than $250 purchased at Lowe’s home improvement stores. [...]