Extreme Couponing with Kids

BlogHer Original Post

The little kids really like to tease me about stuff. I don't mind and often try to give them material to work with. They had a ball making jokes about my experiment with extreme couponing -- particularly in the beginning. Two months later, they're making fewer jokes. I'm not going to say I've converted them because the idea of converting children creeps me out, but they have all three come to appreciate extreme couponing. They're all making contributions to my extreme couponing trips, too.

Prince J, he's 17, has paid the least amount of attention to extreme couponing -- which is normal, he pays very little attention to anything that doesn't directly effect him or isn't immediately interesting to him. On an extreme couponing shopping trip, he's more than happy to wander around with his mother and snark about the food or ponder weird marketing attempts or poorly written signage, but he hasn't taken an active role in couponing. He is, however, looking closely at the packaging on foods that he eats and is attempting to remove the coupons that he finds on that packaging. I just wish he'd use a pair of scissors since the last coupon he brought me he'd ripped by hand and completely mutilated the expiration date. Without a clear expiration date, the coupon had to go into the recycling bin. Alas, no corn dogs for him... until we find a good coupon, that is.

RJ, she's 15, enthusiastically embraced extreme couponing from the beginning -- which is normal, since she is overly-enthusiastic about everything. Turns out, she really likes to cut out coupons which is weird since she's really bad with scissors and as a kindergarten and first grader she refused to do worksheets that forced her to cut out squares to create a mini-storybook. RJ started out clipping everything... except what I would have clipped. I resolved that problem by moving to the "no-clip" method of couponing. RJ still gets time with the scissors, since she asked her dad permission to cut out the coupons from their Sunday paper and bring them to me.

RJ also enjoys the extreme couponing shopping trips, mostly because she likes shopping. Drugstores have things like snowballs and candy bars at the checkout, and she never gives up hope that we might impulse purchase one of those much-coveted goodies. She is also appreciative of the money we're saving, but this seems to be somewhat secondary to her. Mostly, she likes having a lot of food in the house and being supportive of my thriftiness.


Elly, she's 12, and joins her sister in the coupon clipping at her dad's house. She also really loves the fact that I'm buying her make-up and either getting it for free or for significantly lower prices than she can get it. She has enjoyed making a couple of extreme couponing trips where I specifically planned to have her buy make-up. She's also the child who quickly grasped the idea that being paid $1 to buy a tube of toothpaste means you've freed up $4 of your food budget to buy food -- and that you can use that $4 to buy organic meat if you want to. She was also able to figure out, in about 10 seconds, exactly how much money I saved on a mini-extreme couponing trip we made.

Here's what Elly and I bought at Meijer:

  • 2 loaves of rye bread BOGO $3.49
  • 1 package of fresh strawberries $1.00
  • 1 package of Mentos gum $1.29
  • 2 bottles of MiO $7.98
  • 1 case of bottled water Free w/MiO $0.00
  • 4 boxes Eggo Waffles (2 chocolate chips, 2 multigrain) $10.00
  • 1 package Sargento shredded cheese $1.88
  • 2 packages Hormel main dishes $12.18

Here's what we saved at Meijer:

  • We used 8 coupons (some manufacturer, some Meijer Meal Box) for $11.75
  • Total OOP $22.90 - without coupons OR sale prices, the total would have been $46.81

Here's what we bought at CVS:

  • 6 candy bars (Buy 2, Get 1 Free) $3.86
  • 4 Dentyne gum $5.96
  • 1 green eye liner (it was St Patrick's Day!) $2.99
  • 1 present for TW which I can't disclose $9.99

Here's what we saved at CVS:

  • We used 11 coupons, a combination of manufacturer, CVS and ExtraCareBucks for $18.54
  • Total OOP $3.02 -- without coupons OR sale prices, the total would have been $23.42
  • We also received $7 in ECB to be used on our next visit to CVS.

Elly quickly figured out that we saved more than $50 in those two trips and that means our monthly groceries/personal items budget goes a whole lot further than if we had paid full price. And, like her sister, she's figured out that I'm more likely to splurge and buy everyone a candy bar every couple of weeks if they are free (as these ended up being... with the sale, and the coupons, and the ECBs.)

She then went on to talk about how expensive make-up is. How expensive shampoo, conditioner, tampons, and the pads her grandmother uses are and how hard it probably is for people who don't have much money to buy those things plus food every month.

Yippee! She gets it -- she really gets it!

When I first started extreme couponing, I asked my sister-in-law if her son ever helped her, (he's Prince J's age), and she said he didn't -- he just eats the food she brings home. Hah. I think a lot of teenagers are probably like that, which is why I was really excited to see a post on A Thrifty Mom that included an email from an eight-year-old who wants to start couponing.

I am 8 years old and I am learning to coupon from my mom who the coupon queen. I want to start my own binder with my own coupons. Do you have any good ideas for starting a binder for a kid. My mom says I have earn my own money if I want to start even though she shares many of the things she gets with our family and others. Thank you very much and I think you are pretty too.

I think my kids need their own coupon binders!

Do you talk to your kids about couponing? Stockpiling? Living frugally?

Join the Coupon Lovers Group and post your questions about couponing.

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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