I once watched half of an episode of Extreme Couponing. When it finished, I felt a very small niggle of guilt over my lack of aggressive couponing, but mostly I felt bewildered as to why anyone would want to stockpile shelves of toothpaste, bins of deodorant, and pallets of spaghetti sauce. It resembled hoarding, just in a very systematic, organized, and cost-effective fashion.
Perhaps I get the wrong Sunday newspaper, but if my family tried to survive on what we could purchase with coupons, we'd be serving shaving cream, Dove soap, and air fresheners for dinner. Or cat food. Occasionally yogurt. If you've been reading long enough, you know how I feel about yogurt.
Also, I don't think I'm at the level of carrying a binder to the grocery store, or (heaven help me), creating a spreadsheet.
It doesn't seem sustainable.
Still, I'm intrigued, so last night I went to a meeting titled Couponing the Non-Extreme Way to learn some helpful tips and terminology. (Did you know that the coupons automatically printed out at the register are called catalinas? There's a whole new set of vocabulary involved in this endeavor, apparently.)
Some information was common sense -- to know store couponing policies, only clip coupons for products that you really want to use, and read the text carefully. Other information was eye-opening and simple, such as to register your grocery store bonus card online and select e-coupons in advance to automatically receive savings when you purchase those items at the store.
Suggestions were given for what additional newspapers provide the best coupons, considering that our primary local paper doesn't provide a wealth of useful ones. A few websites were recommended, like this and this and this and this. I'll be checking them out.
Hearing the testimony of a real woman who cut a monthly grocery bill for a family of six from $600 to $300 was appealing, indeed. I still waffle, though, wondering if it's possible for me to see any significant results without needing to quit my job in order to create time for couponing. (Counterintuitive, no?)
Balance seems key. If you're a couponer (or, if you're on the fence like me), what are your thoughts and experiences?
Image compliments of CouponzCouponszz (flicrk.com)