Extreme Couponing: How Do You Get Started?

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The best thing about this Extreme Couponing experiment is the people I've met. Check out the comments on my post and on the forum post where I asked couponers questions about how to clip/manage coupons. Everyone has been incredibly helpful, supportive and positive. Because of their willingness to talk about how they manage their coupons, I've finally stopped clipping every coupon I see.

Instead, I'm hanging onto the inserts and only clipping what we need, when we need it. RJ (she's 15) really likes clipping coupons, so when I explained the new process, she was a little let-down but quickly grasped the brilliance of the new method. While she likes to clip the coupons, it isn't the actual CUTTING of them that she likes.

Besides talking to couponers in forums and on blogs, and asking my SIL a zillion questions, I reserved several books on couponing and frugal living from my library. They were all interesting, for a lot of different reasons. Here's a look at the books I read last week:

Supershop Like the Coupon Queen by Susan Samtur, the original coupon queen. I remember when Samtur made the rounds of daytime TV way back in the 70's and 80's. I was fascinated but skeptical and I was freaked out by the fact that she saves all of the packaging on her products in order to take advantage of potential mail-in-rebate opportunities.

Samtur has a couponing site called Select Coupon Program - her forums are very quiet and I just can't wrap my head around the "never buy store brands" idea. And rebating? Oy. I can barely entertain the idea of stockpiling and she wants me to save my trash? This might work for some people, but I don't think it's going to work for me. I think TW would kill me if I tried this, but I am going to keep an open mind and dig into the refund world next week.

If you're a hardcore rebater, I'd love to hear about your experience. If you know of a great rebating website, forum or blog - please share the link so I can learn more.

Next, I read Shop Right, Save More by Teri Gault. She spends a lot of time calling herself the coupon queen, which didn't set well with me because I remember when Susan Samtur WAS the coupon queen. Couldn't she be the coupon goddess or something? Her program, The Grocery Game is not really similar to Samtur's, there's room for both!

If you've never heard of Samtur, you might have heard of Gault, she has also made the rounds of daytime talk shows with the idea that sales are cyclical and you should only buy what's on sale. Nothing else (unless you really, really must have it.) Of course when you first start the program, you have to keep buying the everyday foods, but as you move through the program, following her "what to buy" advice, you should create a stockpile of goods (all purchased at the LOWEST possible prices) and not be forced into the stores to buy a product that is not on sale for the lowest price possible.

It's an interesting program and her shopping list tool is nicely designed with a lot of sort options, (I'm a sorter by nature). The links to print the coupons from the shopping list are pretty handy and could make this an easy to use program for some people. I have seen several blog posts and comments that indicate her listed prices are rarely the same as the actual prices in the store and, I've found it frustrating to not be able to clear the shopping list selections and start over. I'm not giving up though, I'm still playing with it.

If you have tried The Grocery Game, love it or hate it, I'd like to hear about your experience. The more information we have on each of these programs - the better for everyone.

Last, but not least, a book that isn't really about couponing so much as it is about frugal living: Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half with America's Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides.

America's Cheapest Family is one heck of a frugal family who just happen to use coupons - when they remember to take them to the store. Their book talks a lot about ways to save money - in general - and about using Wal-mart's price-matching program as well as coupons.

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