Adventures in Extreme Couponing

Categories: Food News
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You may have already got caught up in the Extreme Couponing craze, but if not, let me fill you in - it's TLC's new show following different people who go to extreme lengths to strategically plan a shopping trip and can bring a bill up to $1,000 or more down to less than $50 (and sometimes even less than $10!) through the combination of coupons and in-store sales.

When I was watching those women walking out of the store with cart-fulls of groceries and paying less than I do on one of those oh-I-only-need-a-few-things trips I got really motivated to do it myself. Now, there's a reason why this show is called extreme - one couple bought over 70 bottles of mustard, just because it was free. I wasn't looking to create a glorious stockpile for a rainy day (or zombie apocalypse); I just wanted to save some money.

On the show, one of the biggest complaints heard by the couponers is that people don't have "enough time" to plan their shopping trip. So this past weekend, Sunday paper in hand, I decided to see how much money a "normal" person could expect to save. Those on the show employ methods of paying companies to clip their coupons, doubling coupons (Florida is nearly the only state that does not allow coupon doubling, darnit!), using competitor coupons, and printing even more coupons from the Internet and then comparing the weekly sale ad to the coupons.

And no, I don't have time for all that. With working full-time paired with being a full-time student, I'm often lucky if I have enough time to make a list before I run to the store. But, I decided to give it a shot. In under 30 minutes I was able to clip all the coupons (for products I actually use) out of the Sunday sale ads, compare to the weekly Publix ads, and write down a game plan.  And then I headed to the store to put my plan into action.

By only using the Sunday circular coupons, and the Publix in-store sales (including by one get one free) I was able to bring a bill of $129.68 down to $70.04 - saving a total of $59.64. Now, these results may not be as impressive as those on Exteme Couponing but I was actually pretty shocked at how much I was able to save with such little effort.

Now, bask in the glory of my first semi-extreme couponing venture:

My Deals

By One Get One Free (BOGO)

Nature Valley Breakfast Bars
Bird's Eye Viola (These make great quick dinners!)
Green Giant Valley Steamers
Beggin' Strips Dog Treats
Mueller Spaghetti
Peggo Spaghetti Sauce
Ocean Spray Trail Mix
V8 Fushion Juice
Royal Gold Pretzels
Clear Eyes
Bistro Salad (Pre-made lunch!)
Nabisco Munch Packs

Lays and Sunchips were on sale for 2 for $6 and I had $1 off coupons for both:
$6 - $2 = $4 for both bags Bird's Eye Viola and Green Giant Steamers were both BOGO, but I had a coupon for one free Giant Valley Steamer with the purchase of a Bird's Eye meal - so I got all 4 items completely free!

Mueller Pasta was BOGO but I had a $1 off coupon:
$1.49 - $1 = $.49 for both boxes!

Jello Pudding was on sale for 3 for $6 and I had a $1 off coupon:
$2 - $1 = $1 (I only bought 1 pack)

Quick Tips

  • While Publix doesn't double coupons, when an item is BOGO you can use two coupons (one for each item)
  • Publix sales change every Thursday, so even if you couldn't use a particular coupon this week save it - you might be able to use it next week!
  • When an item is BOGO, or just on sale, it's a good chance to stock up. I didn't necessarily need spaghetti but since it was BOGO and I had coupons I couldn't resist. 
  • Most places accept competitor coupons, just call and ask!

Do you guys coupon? Am I missing any tips? Let me know!

Happy couponing! 
Follow Clean Plate Charlie onFacebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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My Voice Nation Help

Last week when I was at Pubilx (on Stirling before 441) I asked the cashier if they accepted competitor coupons and she told me yes.

She said the accept Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Albertsons and a few others. She told me if I called the store they had a complete list.

I looked at Publix's website and they do not have it advertised I can assure you they do accept competitor coupons. Just give them a call and ask.

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