A new show started on TLC this spring (I think, maybe winter?) called Extreme Couponing. From what I hear, it shows these OCD types who buy stacks of papers or coupon inserts and spend 50 hours a week clipping and planning and pre-ordering so they can go into stores and get 90% off their bill. Most extreme couponers buy 100 of the same item because there is a good coupon and it looks good on their receipt. But you can only go through so many boxes of Chex and so many bottles of mustard before they expire. TLC has a sense of irony anyway, since it is supposedly followed by the show Hoarders. Extreme Couponing, for all its unrealistic stupidity is really changing the couponing landscape for regular couponers and is deeply hated on all coupon blogs. Stores are starting to change policies to make it harder to get good deals. After about 10 years of doubling coupons up to $1 in value, Price Chopper, our local grocery store, will cease to double anything over $.99. Most manufacturers coupons are $1, so this is going to majorly change my grocery shopping. I have been pretty slack about coupons this spring, after obsessing about them through the fall and winter. With these changes looming on the horizon, I have kicked up the couponing a notch and started stockpiling like a squirrel in late October.
I know, looks crazy. But yogurt and cereal are two of the kids favorite breakfasts and snacks. AND last week at Price Chopper, with my handy dandy $1 off coupons being doubled to $2 off, I was getting 6 multi-packs of Yoplait yogurt and 4 boxes of General Mills Cereal for $8 and then getting a $5 coupon from the catalina machine at the register for anything else I wanted to buy at Price Chopper. I use that kind of coupon to knock down my fresh food bill, since it is hard to find coupons on vegetables, fruit, or meat. So subtracting the $5 I would be spending anyway on fresh food, pretty much $3 for 10 items, so 30 cents per box of cereal or yogurt multipack. At that price, and with the coupon policy changes coming up, I couldn't turn it down. Yeah, my kids eat sugary breakfast cereal. But per serving it all has less than half the sugar of an 8 oz glass of orange juice, so I don't worry about it too much. (I just looked--Lucky Charms and Reeses Puffs have 10g of sugar per 3/4 cup while Orange Juice has 24g of sugar per 8 oz. Ha. I have now justified giving my children fortified empty calories rather than something 100% natural.)
Laundry detergent. Purex can be pretty cheap or free with doubled $1 coupons. Ditto with Tide stain release. Generally anything new is cheap with coupons. They want you to try. it. out.
I really need those pantry shelves Justin promise me.
Personal Care items. These are all from Rite-aid or Walgreens. Drug stores are one of the best places to shop with coupons.
You can almost always get free toothpaste even without coupons. Last week at Rite-Aid, they had colgate on sale $2.99 and on your receipt, you get up+ rewards coupon for $2.99 off any other item you purchase at Rite-Aid. This week it is Crest for $2.69 with a $2.69 up+ reward. They do this every other month or so. I think they like couponers to have clean teeth. At least they won't have to deal with bad breath when those obnoxious couponers are arguing at the register. These deals are great because if you have a coupon for the toothpaste, you can bring your purchase price down to $1.99 and still get the $2.99 up+ reward. So you are getting paid 1 Rite-Aid dollar for taking the toothpaste from them. I'll take that!
Obviously, we don't need that much toothpaste. And some of those personal care items we can't even use. But when you are getting paid to take them, it is hard to not think "Maybe so and so could use them." I got rid of a whole rubbermaid of personal care items by having everyone in the meeting dig through and get what they could use out of it. And then I got to go and fill it up again! Yay!
There is something fun in figuring out how to get something for nothing. Despite people's perceptions, the stores aren't getting ripped off. The coupons are like cash from the manufacturers. The store gets paid for the coupon. In the instance of the toothpaste, the manufacturer is generally footing the bill in conjunction with Rite-Aid for the up+ rewards. Some cashiers act like you are trying to rob the store at the end of a coupon binder/file. But the stores are doing fine.
I hope sanity returns to coupon world once Extreme Couponing goes away. When I started couponing just 9 months ago, I would only occasionally see people with coupon binders. The other day in Price Chopper I passed 7 people with their binders out. This is what the stores and manufacturers are responding to--an increased number of people who watch Extreme Couponing and suddenly realize they can get something for nothing. And in this economy, you certainly can't blame people for doing that. Still, I sort of wish they would do it somewhere far away from Price Chopper. I like my $1 coupons being doubled!