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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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Extreme couponing near Bangor

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If you haven't seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, it's worth checking it out at least once. These couponers are just that, EXTREME. They are able to get tons of products super cheap if not free with coupons, and often wipe out shelves by buying 50-plus items at a time, doing multiple transactions in one shopping trip, and other tactics.

Although this may seem amazing to some, it's not to those who want or even need to buy the sale items only to find them all gone. Shaw's in Bangor recently experienced this when sale items were gone by the end of the first day of the sale and found it hard to recoup products fast enough to accommodate customers. However, they have done well the past few weeks responding to both product demand and customer concerns regarding coupon limit issues. Store personnel take their coupon policy seriously and have posted couponing rules throughout the store, so as to discourage extreme couponers from wiping out shelves.

It's actually nice to walk into the store and find what you are looking for and leave satisfied with your trip and purchase.

If you are a new, modest or even crazy couponer, there are a few things we could actually learn from extreme couponers:

Know your stores' coupon policy

Since this show has aired, many stores have changed their policies, and some limit one coupon per item while others allow 'stacking' or even accept competitor's coupons.

If you use coupons at all, you'll save time and money by looking up and printing out the policies of the stores you frequent.

Be prepared

It takes me an average of six hours each week to prepare my shopping trips according to TLC's 'Extreme Couponing,' the show's participants take about 15-40 hours. What I have found amazing is that even 5-10 minutes of prep time can save you both time and money on the back end.

I'm not as prepared as I should be, but I'm in the process of changing that. I've gotten my co-workers all jazzed up over coupons and sales, and some have adopted the coupon binder system, which looks to be the way I might go.

Do your research before shopping. See what each store has on sale and check online for what coupon matchups are available you can often find several sites that will match up the coupons for you. I typically buy from four stores: Shaw's, Walmart, Save-A-Lot and Hannaford. Each week I check the Shaw's sale flyer first while the most expensive of the four, they double coupons and have periodic BOGO sales that makes stocking up affordable. Then, I buy everything else I need at the other three stores, depending on which sells the items for less according to my research.

Don't stockpile, but take advantage of multiples

Stockpiling 50 or 100 of the same item at a time is quite extreme, but the rest of us can still learn from it. Whether you buy five or 50 bottles of mustard, making a large purchase can save money if you have a coupon or it's on sale. I recently bought six pounds of cod from Shaw's (we eat at least two at a time) because it was on sale for $2.99/lb. and you just don't see that price for fish too often. It freezes well, so I know I saved about $30 in the future.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Here are a few tips for beginners from some 'seasoned' couponers online:

  • 'Try it! I started my coupon journey with a 25-cent coupon. Whether you save 25 cents or a lot more, every little bit means more money in your checkbook.'  Becky
  • 'If you normally wouldn't buy it... don't bother keeping the coupon for it. Give it to someone else that can use it.' - Sue
  • 'Start slow it will take time. Everything will go on sale sooner or later.' - Missy
  • 'Don't get frustrated. You don't need to learn every single store right away. Pick your favorite grocery store or drug store and shop there for several weeks until you feel like you have mastered it, and then move on to another.' - Rebecca
  • 'Get organized! There are lots of methods to organize your coupons. I personally chose a binder.' - Jessica
  • 'Don't be brand loyal. If you are brand loyal, stock up on your brand when the price is right.' - Amy
  • 'Only purchase items that your family can use. You can get carried away once you see all of the items you can get for FREE.' - Annette

If even modest couponing still sounds like too much work for you, start off small and see how you like it. The girls at work started off small and now they have the 'fever.'


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