Exploring the World of Extreme Couponing

BlogHer Original Post

I'm a pretty thrifty woman and I don't particularly mind that my family makes fun of me for it. We do not throw away money on things we don't need. If we need it, and can afford it, we will buy it -- we'll look for a sale but if we don't find one, we still buy. Which pretty much explains why I've never been anything more than a sporadic coupon user. And that, my friends, is about to change. I have entered the world of the extreme couponer.

I'm fairly confident that I will never reach levels attained by those featured in TLC's Extreme Couponing. While I am looking forward to finding new ways to save money, I really don't think I will turn into a stockpiler. Then again, how awesome would it be to have that much stuff -- and give it away to those who are less fortunate. THAT kind of stockpiling, I could do.

I have always read blogs about frugal living, and over the last couple of years, those blogs have led me to add some couponing blogs to my feedreader. I've always found them interesting but I've rarely (never?) printed any of the coupons they've written about.

When I read this post about TLC's Extreme Couponing, I was intrigued and went looking for more posts about TLC's Extreme Couponing show. Then I looked for new couponing blogs to read. I was so fascinated by what I was seeing that one night, instead of picking up my book, I picked up my iPad just to see what kind of iPad apps were available for couponers, and I found the app for A Full Cup. Talk about fascinating. I'm a sucker for a good message board community.

All of these interesting blog posts, message board posts, and coupon databases would not normally have been enough to lure me in. I read awesomely interesting things all of the time and I generally just move along, but a couple more things happened to cause me to stop and think.

You know TW quit her job late last summer and that was good. It meant we had considerably less money to spend every month but we were fine. We created a new budget and TW found some jobs. We adjusted to the new budget and made it through Christmas. Only to discover we need another new budget, one that's another $500 less a month than we thought. And, for the month of January, we were $1500 shorter than we'd planned. (Long story, it's fine -- don't worry -- we'll just blame the patriarchy and move on!) We needed a plan, a really good plan.

First, we had to drastically cut our restaurant budget. We've already been working on that and doing pretty well. We cut it further and that's good on a lot of levels.

Next, I've been reading The Frugal Girl for a long time and her Food Waste Friday posts had been really getting to me. We have so much food waste -- either we cook too much and nobody eats the leftovers or we buy stuff we never use and have to throw out. Funny thing was, TW had also been thinking about how to cut our food waste. So we were on the same page there.

Speaking of TW, she'd been thinking about doing the Pantry Challenge which is awesome because I was thinking of suggesting it. I had very little idea about what was in our freezer but I was pretty sure there was plenty in there that we could use and I knew our cabinets were full of canned foods and pasta.

I thought I'd be extra diligent in coupon usage -- I might only save a few dollars but in January, a few dollars were going to be very important or we might actually have to stop going to Starbucks three times a week. (See, we're fine. If we were really in trouble, there would be no Starbucks!)

So the first week of January, we headed to the commissary as usual. We didn't go out for breakfast and we bought only what we needed, knowing we were going to use what was in our pantry. We spent $89.56 and had $7.50 in coupons, which was a good coupon day for us. I remember this because I mentioned it as we were leaving the store and TW said, "We can do better." and I laughed. I laughed loudly. Because I thought she was crazy.

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