July 21, 2014

My Extreme Couponing Day

Mar27

As another episode of Extreme Couponing is set to air on TLC, I’ll spend time answering questions for confused newbie couponers. Shoppers that want to mimic the “expertise” shown on the show, and buy $1000K worth of groceries in one shopping trip for the small amount of $8 (or some other crazy amount.) They make it look so easy, so easy that my daughter didn’t understand why we couldn’t show up at our local grocer the next day, and purchase 200 Gatorades for free for “the boys.”

I am reminded of my post, Extreme Couponing – it’s not Reality.

99% of what will be shown on the Extreme Couponing show can’t be executed in one shopping trip without bending the majority of store couponing policies. So is it possible to be an “Extreme Couponer,” while still following all the couponing rules?

Absolutely, understanding and executing Grocery Guru shopping trips take time, but eventually, it just becomes a way of life – a savings mindset.  When that savings shift takes place, you can relax and start enjoying the savings game. There won’t be a panic when you miss out on a couponing week because you know another one will come along. You won’t drive across town for that one “great deal” because you realize that it’s not the best use of your time or gas money. That free item will be there again, you may just need to wait.

My Grocery Guru shopping trips take place at Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Foods. Both stores have a limit of 20 coupons doubled a day, but the limiting factor is that you may only use three like coupons. For example, I can’t go in and purchase 20 yogurts, with 20 coupons. I can only buy three like items a day with three coupons. So, when there is an item on sale that I desperately want to stock up on, it would be so easy to buy an entire case at one time. Unfortunately, that would break their coupon policy. Typically, I will pop in five out of seven days, or if I happen to be in town every day, then I will shop each day of the sale allowing me to get around 20 of certain items in that week.

During my Extreme Couponing weeks, my shopping trips are quite boring because I buy the same thing every single day. This week, I have stocked up on three free milks, free yogurts, free Butterfingers, Kahiki, Propel, Cereal, Mission tortillas, detergent and a few other items within my stockpile price point. Today when we went shopping, my daughter said, “Mom, our cart looks pretty much the same as it did yesterday.”

For those of you who don’t want to mess with coupons, you could have been your own Grocery Guru today in the produce department. I purchased bag after bag of Organic Spring Salad Mix for only $0.79 due to a $3 off peelie, as well as lots of marked down produce. I then found tons of Veggie Burgers, originally $3.99, but with $3.00 peelies, also due to a short date.

With so much lettuce, I declared it Taco Salad night since it’s the perfect meal to eat lots of short dated produce.

I know you are all wondering how much I spent on this trip. It was good enough to get a chuckle out of my young clerk. At full retail price, it began at around $200, but came down to $17. Yes, everything on the counter, including the produce, veggie, burgers and about five more items that were already put in the fridge, came to $17.

Recently, I had my best Grocery Guru day, leaving the store with a cart full of groceries for only $3. I never posted it because the only things I purchased were items with coupons, and that’s not always reality for me either. This is a much more typical grocery trip where I combined coupon savings, unadvertised specials, along with being observant as I shopped.

Have you had any fun grocery shopping trips lately? (Can grocery shopping even be fun?” :)


Comments

  1. Where do you find food coupons? I can find toiletries and snacks. But nothing that we actually eat.

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  2. I had to laugh looking at your counter….I had many of the same items in my cart today. As I was leaving the house to shop, my husband said told me to buy Life cereal. I said, “Not until it goes on sale!” And wouldn’t you know – Life was an unadvertised special this week and I had a coupon!

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  3. Pamela M. says:

    Awesome shopping! I think anyone can fit good couponing strategies that work for their household and can greatly reduce their shopping expenses. It takes some time to figure it out, but shortly you can become quite a pro. I do have one question. How is a B2G1 free coupon handled with a B2G1 free sale? How many products would be free in this scenario and how many do you have to pay for in the transaction? Thanks :)

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    Jen Reply:

    All stores vary on how they handle those sales, but typically, I would use two coupons for the two items I am purchasing. Hopefully, those are good enough coupons to get me those items very cheap, with the third item being totally free.

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  4. We ran into Harris Teeter on our way home from church last night. I had already culled my coupons and pulled out the batch I planned on using, so our whole family went in the store. {Violating my #1 rule, which is to shop alone, without distractions.} But, because I knew what I was getting (like you!) I quickly filled the cart and we were at the checkout counter in a matter of minutes. The total before coupons was $62… the final total was $7.90. My very hard-to-impress teenager said, “How do you DO that??!?” Then he asked me to send him coupons when he goes to college! I purchased 9 bags of frozen veggies, 3 6-packs of Danimals, 6 large cans of tomatoes, 2 boxes of cereal, 2 boxes of Crunch & Munch, 1 coffee creamer, and 2 boxes of pasta. My cupboards, freezer, and both fridges are almost full after this super double sale. What a wonderful blessing from the Lord! Blessings!

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    Jen Reply:

    WOW! Truly a blessing!! I’m new to this couponing thing. Please tell me how you did this. Do you buy multiple newspapers to get the multiple coupons (9 bags of veggies)? I would really love to know the details. Everytime I think I have a trip like this planned, we never get out for less than $50-$60. So disappointing :/

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  5. Thanks for pointing out that those “extreme” shows are always the exceptions. If I can manage a 25-40% average savings by using coupons and sales, I consider that a good deal. Occasionally, a single order will go upwards of 60-75% but that is the exception. (Love your blog!)

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  6. I had an extreme trip yesterday. I went to Kroger just to get my freebies w/ coupons. My bill went from $95 down to $6, and that’s because as I walked out the door my husband said “Get some milk and bananas!” It was fun!

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    TJ Reply:

    Hi Mandy,

    Do you mind sharing with me where you get your coupons. Although these posts are inspiring, I’m still at a loss for how it’s actually done and where to find the coupons. I also shop at Kroger.

    Many thanks,

    TJ

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  7. I usually save 80-90% at the grocery store, however, I dont buy my meat there, most of the time.. I buy it at Costco so that would cut my % down to about 60-65% I think..
    Most toiletries , cleaners, & OTC meds & supps I get either free or dirt cheap at the drug stores & the grocery store too.

    It can be done, but as with you, not all at one time..

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    KimH Reply:

    BTW.. I love seeing what others are getting on their extreme couponing trips. :D

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  8. I’m always fascinated to see what deals others find. I wish we had these stores on the East Coast.

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  9. Please color me confused – how and where do you get some of those food coupons? As I look at your pictures, I see Simply Asia foods and Kashi cereals – I have never seen coupons for things like that. I understand that I’m in a different part of the country (Louisiana), but I never see those coupons. I just wish we had a Harris Teeter, because my grocery store doesn’t let us stack coupons. Advice?

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    Jen Reply:

    Our stores don’t let us stack either. Yikes, I better go read my post and see if I worded it poorly. I can buy three yogurts with three separate coupons, not three coupons on one yogurt. Anyhow, guess what, I have posted lately about the Kashi coupons being added to my coupons widget. Love it….

    Also, the Simply Asia was a total treasure find. I went to purchase some sauce and saw the Simply Asia products with a $1 off peelie right on the container. That’s one of the reasons, I scan the aisles for those kind of coupons. I have found quite a few that way this month. I just got those yesterday, and those won’t be store specific, so there’s a good chance they may be on the ones at your store as well.

    Check my side bar where it says coupon….the Kashi may be sold out already but I just printed mine last week. You can print 2/per computer.

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  10. I’m still looking for a way to use coupons in my small, small town at my small, small local grocery store. I use the occasional one, but most of the time they either don’t take them, don’t double them, or don’t even sell the products. Any ideas?

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  11. I love couponing. I think it is almost an addiction to see what I can get. I usually stock up for my mom, sister, and me (and our families). My mom gets confused by coupons, so I just usually buy for her and give her items. I actually took a couple month break recently to just slow down and not have to think about coupons so much since I was so stocked up. Of course I couldn’t let the really good coupons go by me without using them though. Now I’m getting ready to get back into it soon. I am mainly focusing just on $1 or more coupons though to make it worthwhile. I’ve noticed a lot of manufacturers are cutting back on those. I used to always get yogurt for free with doubling $1 off of one coupons when they go on sale, but lately I usually only see 50 cent coupons, or $1 off of 2. I see you bought Smart Balance milk. I LOVE Smart Balance. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive. By me, it is $4 or more for one carton. I usually wait until a sale for $2.50 or so. I would buy it every week if I could, but I have trouble justifying spending $8 for a gallon.

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    Jen Reply:

    Linda – Smart Balance just came out with a coupon for $2 off in this week’s coupon insert. Wait til it goes on sale and that will be worth it to stock up on. I actually got 20 coupons…the expire date is not until May, so I am buying a bunch and keeping it in our second fridge/freezer. Wanted to let you know in case you didn’t see yesterdays paper.

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    Linda Reply:

    Thanks for letting me know. I will look in my paper. I haven’t cut out yesterday’s coupons yet. If I don’t have it — it might be worth ordering from the Coupon Clippers since it is good until May. Occasionally I order coupons from them if they are really good ones. Plus it is nice that it is $2 so I don’t have to waste one of my doubles. Our store (Pick n Save) only lets you double 5 coupons up to $1 and you have to spend $25. I usually just separate my order into separate $25 sections so I can double more than 5. Thanks again. I love your site by the way!!

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  12. Congrats on your extreme coupon trip. I can never get organized enough to use them all!

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  13. Jen,
    Does your Kroger and Lowe’s double $1 coupons? Here in CNY our grocery stores only double up to $.99. Sometimes our Price Chopper or Tops runs like 3-4 doubler or tripler coupons in the newspaper. And our Price Chopper takes Tops coupons. So I usually do more extreme couponing on those days when I can combine. But that’s only about once every other month. Our Price Chopper also allows you to stack its store coupons with a manufacturer one.

    When I have a large amount of groceries to buy I don’t save as much as I would like maybe about 50%. But smaller orders I do better (over 80%). Produce is much higher here in NY in the winter. And meat tends to be my biggest budget buster even with loss leaders.

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    Jen Reply:

    That’s similar to what our stores do, except every once in awhile our Harris Teeter will have Super Doubles, which doubles 20/day up to $1.99. So, the milk was free because I had a $1.50 coupon that doubled to $3.00. That is about the best deal, I have ever gotten – freee milk. On those Super Double weeks, I try and go as much as I can. Although it was painful to miss today. I live 25 minutes from our closest store and couldn’t justify the drive time just to use 20 coupons. :)

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  14. Wow! I am not an extreme couponer, but I”m hoping to get better. I did my grocery shopping for the week today, plus all of the meat we will need for a month (minus some chicken leg quarters for 47 cents a pound that I got a raincheck for) and “saved” 38% at one store and 51% at the other. I used coupons and shopped the sale ads.

    I think the % of savings is not my true savings, since I would never buy most of the groceries at their regular price. I don’t buy many processed or pre-made foods, but I did stock up on cake mixes and bought a package of frozen egg rolls to go with stir-fry tomorrow night. Fresh fruits and vegetables are still fairly reasonable in California during the winter, but tomatoes are HiGH! I usually don’t buy them, but we decided on BLT’s for dinner one night, so we splurged.

    I did find some Hillshire Farms hot links for 1.99 plus 1.00 off coupon, so got two packs for 1.98 total.

    I’m looking forward to more extreme couponing posts!

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  15. That is impressive shopping!

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  16. I love your rule of “being observant.” I stopped in at a local grocery store I don’t shop at much (their prices are quite high). They were having double $1 coupons, so I figured I could get a few free items. Walking by the frozen food I noticed a TON of mark-downs, including Morning Star items for $1. I had a bunch of $1 off coupons for Morning Star with me, so I managed to get 6 for free! All because I kept my eyes open! Also left with a free box of Uncle Ben’s rice, and some TLC granola bars for $1/box (perfect for my 90 minute train commute) after my double coupons. Not too bad of a day for my grocery budget. :)

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  17. I greatly appreciate your words on Extreme Couponing. I love using coupons and saving money and share some of your feelings over the new Extreme Couponing series. I want to see people using coupons as a form of stewardship, to make the most of what God has given them. I don’t like to see coupons encouraging greediness. You, Jen, do a great job of honestly sharing your couponing adventures! Oh, and I average savings in the 60 percent range (thanks to tripled coupons at our Kroger), but love when my savings are higher!

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  18. Our family of 6 is living off of our modest stockpile right now because we are gearing up for a cross country move. My husband recently lost his job and eating from what we already bought during steals and deals is really helping us through this frugal time in our lives. God has richly blessed us and when we get back “on our feet” I plan on diving right back into couponing and stocking up.
    I hope God continues to bless you and your sweet family :)

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    Tanya Reply:

    I wanted to show my new blog. It was created to answer the many questions my family and friends have about how I coupon and save big weekly. Since we have taken a step back from stockpiling I have not blogged. Maybe I should blog about how we are using up all those goodies? I am so grateful that I was able to stretch our dollars and help our family before this difficult time hit our home. It is just another example of how faithful God is in our lives each day.
    http://couponingworksforme.blogspot.com/

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    Jen Reply:

    It’s amazing how He provides in ways we would have never imagined, isn’t it?

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