Extreme Couponing Challenge

To celebrate the launch of TLC's Extreme Couponing series, I'm challenging you to grab your coupons and start saving. What? You don't have any coupons? Or you don't know how to use coupons? No worries -- that's what this challenge is about! (And if you're a long time couponer, I'd love to have you join -- your experience is invaluable to those who are new to extreme couponing.)

Every Wednesday I'll post three new tips that will help you become an extreme couponer (or just a better couponer, if you don't want to embrace the extreme couponer label). I'll also ask you to post stories about your weekly shopping trips: What worked, what didn't, how much did you spend and most important -- how much did you save. You can post those stories in the comments or you can use the link tool to share the link to a post you've written on your own blog. Make sure to include the amount of money you saved -- I'll be adding those numbers together and we'll see how much BlogHer members can save when we work together.

Beyond those Wednesday posts, I'll also post links to deals, new coupons or savings ideas that I'm seeing on blogs and forums. (I'll even try to post Canadian offers when I see them.) I can use all the help I can get, so if you see a great new coupon or a deal -- share it here to help others.

Here are the first three tips, all of which came (inadvertently) from the first episode of the new TLC Extreme Couponing series:

1) In order to save with coupons, you have to have coupons! If you aren't subscribed to your Sunday paper, consider doing so now. (Many papers have some pretty good deals so don't discount subscribing.)

If you aren't going to subscribe, you're going to have to buy the paper (and in some cases you might want to buy several!) Dollar General and Dollar Tree sell the Sunday paper for $1 so that's a good place to grab the paper. You can also get the early edition of the Sunday paper on Saturday afternoons, in some areas!

You should also consider asking your friends and family members to give you their coupons. Or you might want to get serious and check paper recycle bins or contact your friendly paper delivery person and ask her to give you the extra inserts -- if she has them.

You don't need hundreds, just start with one paper and as you progress, you'll know whether you need more. Lots of coupon bloggers will give you a coupon insert preview and that can help you decide how many papers to buy every week. (I only get one paper - every now and then my kids bring me the coupons from their dad's house... but that's rare!)

2) Next, you need to decide which store(s) you're going to shop at and find out what their coupon policies are. If you have a store that doubles, odds are high that it's going to be worth it for you to do at least some of your shopping there. Many couponers print the coupon policies for stores they shop at -- Walmart and Military Commissaries seem to be the ones who are most likely to use those printed policies but it won't hurt to print a copy for any store you shop at. (Check their national website!)

You'll also want to consider your dugstore options - Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens all offer some amazing savings every week.

If you don't have loyalty cards for the stores you're shopping at, then you must get those loyalty cards on your first visit this week.

3) Next, if you're a new couponer, start small! Remember, the huge savings you see on TV will not be your savings! Choose one drugstore and one grocery store and plan one trip at each. (If you'll post the store name and your region in the comments, I'll help you find a blog or a forum that can give you deal ideas AND coupon match-ups right away. And that's more than half the battle!)

Review these three tips and post any questions or your preparations for saving in the comments. Be sure to also add your shopping savings, either in the comments or by using this link too.


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