How To Extreme Coupon: A 17-Step Guide for Beginners
Some of the merchants listed in this blog pay us a commission when you make product purchases using the links we provide.
Extreme couponing can be daunting for anyone, even those who are already in the couponing game. This type of deal hunting goes beyond just using a coupon every now and then on toilet paper or pasta. This is the kind of couponing that gets you hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for a fraction of the price, or even for free in some rare cases. If you’ve ever wondered how to extreme coupon, we’ve got tips to get you started.
Even if you already know a bit, these tips can take your savings to the next level and get you shopping like a pro. So get to coupon clipping — there’s money to be saved!
Before you hit the stores, it’s important to gather your supplies and learn some key coupon terms. Laying the proper foundation can save you from headaches later on and start you off on the right foot. Here are some of our favorite couponing supplies and terms to know.
1. Know the Common Coupon Terms
Below are some of the most common couponing terms you’ll likely come across. Brush up on them now to help you coupon with ease.
Blinkie: In-store coupon, usually from a blinking red box near an item or product.
BOGO: Buy One Get One (such as “buy one get one free” or “buy one get one half off”).
CAT: Stands for Catalina coupon; a coupon that prints at the register after you make a purchase.
Double/Doubling: When a store matches the value of your coupon, doubling your savings.
Filler: An item that is purchased for the purpose of making a deal work.
MFG: Manufacturer’s coupons are coupons issued by a manufacturer offering a discount on their product.
MIR: Mail-in Rebates (MIRs) are offers from manufacturers in which you’ll be given cash back for purchasing an item by mailing in paperwork or proof of purchase.
Overage: The profit made from a purchase, sometimes paid in cash or through store credit.
Stacking: Using a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon on an item to “stack” the deals and save more.
2. Check Out Must-Have Couponing Tools
These are some helpful tools to get you started with couponing:
Sunday paper: A newspaper that comes out on Sundays and has coupon inserts.
Store policies: The policies different stores have on coupon use, such as how many coupons may be used per transaction or how coupon overage may be handled.
Printer: A printer can come in handy when you find coupons online that you’d like to use in-store.
Binder: Binders are a great way to store and organize coupons.
Store flyers: Flyers from grocery stores or supermarkets that come in the mail and have coupons and offers.
Newspaper subscriptions: In addition to the Sunday paper, other newspapers have coupon inserts that you may want to look through.
Coupon websites: Coupon websites, like Capital One Shopping, can help you find deals and coupons right from your smartphone or computer.
Once you’ve mastered some coupon terms and gotten your supplies together, you can start preparing for your first shopping trip as an extreme couponer. Below are some of our favorite ways to get organized and ready to score huge savings.
3. Gather Your Coupons
Once you’ve gotten all your tools and resources together, it’s time to start coupon hunting. Start with the classic Sunday paper to get the ball rolling, then dive into some other resources like newspapers you subscribe to or your favorite stores’ websites. You can also use a coupon website, like Capital One Shopping, to help you find deals for any online purchases you need to make.
4. Organize Your Coupons
Organization will save you time and stress when it’s time to hit the stores and begin couponing. Take some time to figure out a system that works well for you — there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coupon organization. However, a tried-and-true method is the coupon binder.
Pick up a three-ring binder and some sheet protectors at the store to keep your coupons dry and safe. Then, consider a coupon organization method that will work for you. Does it make more sense to you to:
Organize your coupons by categories (such as “cleaning products,” “produce,” etc.)?
Organize your coupons by store or manufacturer?
Start adding coupons to your binder based on whatever method you choose. To help get you even more organized, place coupons that will expire the soonest at the front of your binder or sections. This way, you’ll see them first and be more likely to take advantage of them when you need to make a purchase.
5. Look for Sales
Before you head out to the stores, check to see if there are any sales going on. Some of the coincide with holidays, so keep your eye on the calendar to see if any are coming up that can offer you savings. While you may have a favorite supermarket or a preferred place to pick up cleaning supplies, there may be sales and bargains at other stores that you can take advantage of, so don’t be afraid to forget about store loyalty.
Sales are crucial for extreme couponing because they offer savings on top of the discount your coupon will give you. For example, an item that is normally $5 may be on sale for $3. If you have a coupon for $1 off that item, you’ll only be spending $2, saving you 60%!
6. Ditch Brand Loyalty
In addition to trying out other stores, you should also consider trying out new brands. Many of us have a favorite brand of cereal or laundry detergent, but that may not be where the best deals are. In extreme couponing, brand loyalty needs to be left behind.
Look through your coupons and see if you have any for a different brand of a product you need. You’ll save money on items you need, and you may even find a new favorite!
7. Learn Store Policies
Be sure to familiarize yourself with different stores’ coupon policies. It’s not uncommon to run into a situation where a cashier will tell you that you can’t use a certain coupon or that a deal doesn’t apply. Before you accept that as fact, refer to the store’s coupon policy to make sure.
You may be able to find a particular store’s coupon policy on their website, or you may need to ask for it in-store. If you find it online, print it out so you can add it to your coupon binder or organization system. If you’re able to get the coupon policy in-store, do the same so that you’ll always have it on hand.
Extreme couponing can be both exhilarating and stressful, so we’ve gathered some of our best tips for making it as stress-free as possible for you, other shoppers and store workers. Read on to see how you can coupon with ease (and etiquette).
8. Practice at a Store or Two
Test the waters of extreme couponing by trying it out at a store or two. Go during a less busy time of day so that you’ll be relaxed and avoid feeling any pressure to hurry up from shoppers in line behind you. You can also peruse the aisles at your leisure with your coupon binder in hand.
Practicing will help you develop a couponing and shopping technique that works for you, as well as build your confidence.
9. Avoid Shopping at Peak Hours
Avoiding typically busy shopping times will make your extreme couponing experience much less stressful. You won’t feel the need to rush through the checkout line to please customers behind you, and you’ll feel more relaxed as you work your way through your coupons.
Shopping during hours that are less busy may also help you feel like you don’t need to rush around the store and compete for limited items. If a store is holding a big sale, shopping during peak hours may make you feel like you need to hurry up and get everything at once before items sell out.
10. Buy in Bulk
Buy items in bulk to save you money in the long run. Think about items you use every day (or almost every day) — do you have coupons to purchase a lot of that item in one go? Buying in bulk can prevent you from paying high prices when you run out of a product and desperately need to restock.
Remember, extreme couponing isn’t about purchasing products when you need them — it’s about purchasing products when you can get them at the lowest price.
11. Buy Only What You Need
While you may be tempted to stock up on anything and everything you have a great coupon for, you should only buy items you need and will use. At the end of the day, you’ll (likely) still be paying some amount of money, so be sure your hard-earned coin will go toward something you need.
If you just can’t pass up a deal or bargain for something that you probably won’t use, consider gifting it to someone or donating it.
12. Stack Your Coupons
Maximize your savings by stacking your coupons. You can start by using both a manufacturer coupon and store coupon on an item. You may even be able to find a sale for an item you need, then use a manufacturer coupon on that already discounted item. Some stores will even let you take this one step further and use a manufacturer coupon and store coupon on a sale item, but be sure to review their coupon policy beforehand.
You can also score big savings by stacking coupons with BOGO deals. For example, if your local supermarket is running a BOGO deal on certain cereals, and you have a coupon for that cereal, you can get one cereal for free and one at a discount.
13. Be Polite and Patient
Extreme couponing isn’t just time-consuming for you, it’s also time-consuming for the store workers who get you checked out. It’s important to be kind and patient with any cashiers or workers who help you during your shopping trip.
You may also find that shoppers in line behind you get frustrated when it takes a while for you to get checked out. Just be polite and understanding — it’ll be OK!
Now that you’ve gotten to test out extreme couponing, you may be looking for some more tips to really help you save money. Below are our favorite ways to get the most out of couponing.
14. Aim for Overage
Overage is every couponer’s dream — it occurs when your savings total more than your bill, essentially meaning the store owes you money. There are several ways overages can occur, but it will most likely happen when you:
Use a coupon on a sale item
Use coupons with BOGO deals
Stack Catalina coupons
Stack a manufacturer coupon and store coupon on the same item
It’s important to know that not all stores give cash for overages — some may pay it in store credit. Be sure to review the store’s coupon policy to know what to expect in the event you hit overage.
15. Write to Manufacturers To Get Coupons
One trick that could score you extra coupons is writing directly to manufacturers. Sending a letter to manufacturers telling them how much you enjoy their products, customer service or other aspect of their company may prompt them to send you some coupons in the mail to show their appreciation. All you have to do is pay for postage!
16. Consider Brand Names Over Generic Brands
One of the hallmarks of is going for generic brands over brand name products. While we often assume that generic brands will be cheaper than brand names, this isn’t always the case.
See what coupons you have for brand names, then compare the discounted price to the price of generic brands. You may also be able to stack coupons to get brand-name products at a lower price than generic brands.
17. Practice (Makes Perfect)
Couponing is one thing, but extreme couponing is another beast entirely. Now that you have the tools, you can start couponing at your local stores. It may take some time to get the hang of the lingo, coupon stacking or even just navigating your coupon binder, but with a little practice, you’ll be on your way to major savings in no time.
Soon, you’ll be able to sit back and watch as the savings roll in. And if you want to treat yourself after a long day of clipping and stacking coupons, indulge in some chocolate truffles from Lindt Chocolate — with a coupon, of course!
We hope that you found this blog helpful. Our content is not intended to provide educational, health, legal, tax, or financial advice. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional. Capital One Shopping does not endorse or guarantee any information or recommendations listed above.