Friday, May 27, 2011

Extreme Couponing Tips

I know I said I was going to post on my grocery couponing next but I came across this article and wanted to share. It comes from the Living Rich with Coupons series 'Extreme Couponing 101'. The girls and I love to watch the new episodes of TLC's Extreme Couponing but it can be a little crushing when you know you aren't getting anywhere near those kinds of deals on your hauls. I have found that on almost every couponing website, especially the ones where the operator has been featured on the show, they all say that those kinds of shopping trips almost NEVER happen. So that's encouraging and I hope this is too.

"Extreme Couponing Tips

If you have been watching the Extreme Couponing Series on TLC, you know that some of these shoppers walk away with a ton of groceries for next to nothing. Lot’s of questions pop up like, where do they get all their inserts, can you use that coupon on that product, etc.

This week’s tip is:

Don’t Be So Extreme

I understand that the name of the show is Extreme Couponing, however, to me, Extreme Couponing has a different meaning then buying 100 Free bottles of soap in 1 shopping trip. There is no need for that. Really there isn’t. To me Extreme Couponing is the ability to save 75% or more on your grocery bill. And, you can do that if you picked up 4 -8 (depending on your family size) of those same Free bottles of soap. Not 100 bottles.


I talk a lot about building a stockpile. Having a nice stockpile is one of the key ways to be able to save at the grocery store. The reason for building a stockpile is simply so that you do not have to go out and buy something at full price. If you purchase several of the items when they are at their lowest price, you do not have to purchase them until they go on sale again.

Why will 4-8 bottles be enough? Well, it’s simple. Sales usually run in cycles of about 3 months. So, if you see a great deal on bottles of soap this month, most likely you will see a great deal again in about 3 months. Just in time for the 4-8 bottles in your stockpile to start to be running low. Honestly, it could take us about 3 weeks to go through 1 bottle of soap. For me, 100 bottles of soap would be over 5 years worth. Buy what you need for your family and for donations and nothing more. Please don’t turn your home into one big stockpile.

Don’t overwhelm yourself

Watching some of these couponing shows may have you thinking you are not as good at couponing as you thought. That there must be something wrong because you are not buying $2000 worth of groceries for $50. Don’t second guess yourself. If you are saving a good amount by using coupons and working some deals, then you are doing a great job. And, don’t try to do every single deal. There are way too many and if you do, you’ll burn yourself out. Step back, take a deep breath and say, I’m not doing that deal because I just don’t need to right now. It will make for a much better, long term, couponing experience.

Enjoy Couponing

Couponing should not take over your home or your life. It should be a fun activity that brings you great joy and satisfaction that you are saving your family money. If deals don’t work or you forgot a coupon, brush it off. There is always the next deal or coupon."

Feel better now?

Go check out their website. They have a great Couponing for Beginners section and info on stockpiling.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coupon Categories

Some of you have asked about my coupon binder categories. I based my list off of the Krazy Coupon Lady’s and made my own personalizations. Her list is not alterable so I had to type up my own and dressed it up.

1. Salty Snacks/Chips
2. Granola/Fruit Snacks
3. Pasta & Sauce
4. Soup
5. Baking
6. Breakfast
7. Prepared Sides/rice
8. Condiments/Salad Dressing
9. Drinks
10. Refrigerated
11. Freezer
12. Candy
13. Diapers
14. Misc. Baby - Wash/Lotion
15. Paper Products/ Ziplock
16. Surface Cleaners
17. Laundry
  • Detergent
  • Stain Removers
18. Dish washing
  • Detergent
  • Liquid Soap
19. Air Fresheners
20. Meds/Vitamins
21. First Aid
22. Beauty
  • Make-up
  • Facial Cleansers
23. Oral Care
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
24. Soap & Body Wash
  • His
  • Hers
25. Hair Care
  • Shampoo
  • Styling
  • Color
26. Lotion
27. Shaving
  • His
  • Hers
28. Deodorant
  • His
  • Hers
29. Feminine Hygiene
30. Misc.

I added the subcategories just because I like to keep things a little more organized. I removed the categories Produce, Vegetables, Fruit, PB &J, Yogurt, Pets and combined some of the other categories.

I've been clipping coupons on Sunday nights (afternoon if nap time allows). Then I put away in the binder all the ones I want to keep and set aside the ones I know I won't use to donate to overseas military families or pass along to friends that have requested them. I like to look at the Sales Ad Previews that come out the Friday or Saturday before so I can get an idea of the super good buys I'll want to snag at CVS and Walgreens as soon as possible. These go really fast, I've learned, so if it's something I really want to get I'll make a shopping trip on Sunday. For example, this week Walgreens had a special on swim diapers and since we joined the pool this summer I knew we'd need lots of these and the price was excellent. We stopped in on our way to church Sunday morning. On Monday I usually go through my binder and pull any coupons that expire that week and see if there are any sales I can use them on.

I'll expound on my grocery routine in my next post. I need some help in this area, so get your thinking caps on.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Unexpected Guest

I’m a stay at home mom with four kids. We homeschool and I’m generally a laidback (read: lazy) person. This means I usually don’t get out of my pj’s unless we’re going somewhere. I mean, what’s the point if you’re just going to get snot wiped on your shirt or someone else’s lunch covered hands wiped all over your shorts? I’d have to keep changing clothes all day and that just makes more laundry. I typically wait till the kids go to bed and change into a new pair of jammies. On any given day my sink can be full of dishes, the trash overflowing, and the kitchen floor needing to be swept AGAIN. And while I’m tidying constantly I’ve got four forces of nature working against me and there is always something that needs to be picked up or cleaned all over again. Needless to say my house is usually only ‘company ready’ moments before our guest arrive. Several times lately I’ve been met with the unanticipated knock at the door and as I cringe, I’m scrambling to get decent and pray it’s not someone I’ll need to invite in. Today is a perfect example. We had a very busy weekend, Silas didn't sleep well last night, and my back is killing me. I have grand intentions of spending most of the day parked on the couch to recuperate. Not a good day for 'guests'.

How do YOU handle the unexpected ring of the doorbell? Now, I’m not talking about the UPS man dropping off a package but the friend who was in the neighborhood, the neighbor wanting to borrow a cup of sugar, or the landlord stopping by to make some unscheduled repairs. I desire to be a hospitable person, I enjoy the sweet fellowship of a cup of coffee shared with a friend but when it interrupts the flow of my day and catches me off guard, the joy of it quickly becomes anxiety at the need to be flexible (and get dressed :)).

What do you do to be prepared in situations like this?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Consider Rack, Shack, & Benny

My kids have never watched much Veggie Tales for a myriad of reasons but my younger siblings did back in the day and I think of ‘Rack, Shack, & Benny’ whenever I read or hear the story of these three brave lads.

A few weeks ago at our women’s community group my mom read a passage from a book we’d received at our last Ladies retreat*. It’s called “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Deibler Rose and is her retelling of her time as a newlywed missionary in the jungles of New Guinea during WWII. She was placed in a Japanese prison camp and ultimately lost her husband. She had been able to hang on to one personal item from her life before the war but she’d just lost that last treasure as well when she says this:

“One by one He pulled scripture passages out of the storehouse of my memory, to remind me that they had been hidden there for just a time as this. ‘ I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction’ (Isaiah 48:10). This verse called to remembrance my Lord in a blazing furnace with three young Hebrew men. There was something so poignant, so intimate about the privilege that was theirs, of “walking around in the fire” with their Lord. Because of the testimony, the faith, and the courage of three young men, the king and a crowd of people caught a glimpse of Jesus. When they emerged from the furnace, there was no acrid, caustic scent of fire upon them - just the fragrance that emanated from three young people who had been walking with their Lord in the furnace of affliction.
That is very important, isn’t it, Lord? I pray that, if I come out of this war alive, I may be ‘sweet-smelling’ - not bitter or cynical, but like a sweet-smelling, fragrant incense unto You. “

I pondered this for awhile and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I desire their bold faith for my own children, Darlene’s view of walking through trials and coming out the other side being sweet-smelling to our Savior, and pray that God would grant it. In attempting to name our unnamed child I am thinking constantly about names and what they mean. These young lads had strong character. An amazing legacy. And for the same reasons I wouldn’t name my daughter Candy or Bambi, I want to name my son something with great meaning, a foretaste of what God might do through him. We go back and forth, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to settle on one. Poor Graham has wanted to name him since the day we knew we were expecting. So in reflecting, and searching for a perfect name I decided to look up the meanings of the names of these three brave Hebrews. This is what I found:

Shadrach means "command of Aku". (Aku was the Babylonian moon god).
Abednego means "servant of Nabu" (Nabu was the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing)
Meshach means “guest of a king.”

So the men were faithful servants of the one true God, despite their given names. An excellent reminder that God is sovereign and has a purpose for my children, regardless of what I name them… Phewf.

*The past few retreats we’ve received awesome books, usually gifts from our elders. So thankful for ‘good’ books and those who take the time to share them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A steal of a deal

If you are looking for an easy way to get more bang for your buck check out the Target website. They have their own store coupons which you can pair with manufacturer coupons you might have to get some cheap, even free deals. And unlike other coupon websites there is no limit to how many of each coupon you can print. They also have several gift card promos each week where you receive a gift card when you make a qualifying purchase. And if you’ve got coupons for the items you can really save a bundle. Check the ad for these. Some of my amazing snags from the past week:

2 boxes of hair color - $24.00
After coupons: $4
Got Target gift card for $5
$1.00 moneymaker!!!

2- 4pk Starbucks Frappuccinos - $11.98
After coupons: $9.98
Got Target Gift Card for $5

Pack of Dentyne Gum - $1.04
After coupons: $.04 !

Nivea Lotion - $5.04
After coupons: $1.04

Up & Up Ibuprofen - $.99
After coupons: FREE!!!

Up & Up Hydrogen Peroxide - $.62
After coupons: $.12!

Up & Up Liners - $.89
After coupons: $.14!

Sally Hansen Nail Polish - $1.49
After coupons: $.49
(this one should have been free but my Target had marked down the nail polish so it only accepted one of my coupons but I LOVE the color and didn’t mind paying 50 cents for it.)

This one was for my husband :)
A special one day deal
4 - 6 pk bottles Dr. Pepper - on Sale $6.96
Got a Mavs T-shirt for FREE!
( I don’t think I even bought the right size bottles but I didn’t see the ones listed in the ad. The customer service rep didn’t look too closely at my receipt, just made sure I bought the 4 items)

I plan on making a few stops on Saturday to use some coupons that expire this weekend. Hopefully I’ll come across some GREAT deals! :)

These are some photos of my previous cheap finds that I meant to post last time:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How I Coupon

I did not start couponing at the best time. Sunday papers are where I plan to get the bulk of my coupons and whenever there is a holiday that falls on a Sunday, the local paper won’t have coupon inserts. First week it was Easter, then a good coupon week, then Mother’s Day. So instead of three weeks worth of coupons I only have one. I purchased two papers at Walgreens for $4 and saved WELL over that since. My Wal-Mart also carries two packs of the Sunday paper at a discount but they were out when I stopped by. I’ve also printed off several coupons online from and Most websites that list store/coupon match-ups will have links to the coupon if there is a printable one available online. This is extremely helpful to me. Most sites will only let you print off two of each coupon. I’ve decided two papers is a good number for me as well. Not too overwhelming. Some of the ‘Extreme’ folks get anywhere from 5-10 papers a week. Some even dumpster dive or pick through their neighborhood recycling bins to retrieve discarded coupon inserts.

I took my papers home and spent about 1 ½ hours clipping the ones I wanted or thought we’d use. The remainder I plan on passing to a friend OR you can send unused or expired coupons to military families. There is a link on with more info on this. I then place my coupons in my newly organized binder and set aside the sales ads for the stores I knew I wanted to shop at.

Here is a little sample of my savings over the past week & a half:


Gillette ProGlide Razor - $9.89
used $4.00 off coupon
paid $5.89 then received a $5.00 Register Reward (store Credit)

used the store credit to turn around and buy this:
Cottonelle Toilet Paper- 2 12 pk - $10.00
used 2 50¢ coupons PLUS used the $1.00 off each one coupon in the Walgreens May Book
paid with the $5 credit, and $2.00 then received a $3.00 Register reward

So I still have a $3 credit for my next trip!


Ivory Soap 3 bar pk - $.99
used a $1.00 off coupon
so it was FREE!!

Colgate MaxPro Toothpaste- 2 tubes - $5.54
used 2 coupons for 55¢ off each tube
paid $4.44 and recieved $5.54 in ExtraBucks (store Credit)

I used the store credit to buy some Neosporin & gum later in the week without a penny from my pocket.


Colgate toothbrush, 2 - $3.94
used 2 coupons for $1.50 off each
paid 94¢

Soft Scrub Cleaner, 2 - $3.98(price match)
used 2 $1.50 off each
paid 98¢

Febreeze Noticeables refill - $3.97(price match)
used $1.00 off cooupon
paid $2.97

Febreeze Noticeables Warmer - $3.99
used coupon for free warmer when you purchase a refill
price: FREE!!

Noxzema Razor 4 pk (plus 2 bonus razors)- $2.67
used a $2 off coupon
paid 67¢

Noxzema Bikini Razor 3 pk - $1.97
used a $2 off coupon
price: FREE!!

Kroger : (I shopped here last week as well but can't find my receipt and can't remember my deals so these are my big deals from my shopping trip this week. They had tons of markdowns so i saved a lot but these were my free/almost free scores.)

Boulder Natural Potato Chips, 2 bags - $2.00
used 2 $1 off coupons
price: FREE!!

Fage yogurt w/ fruit, 4 cups - $5.00
used 4 50¢ coupons which the store then doubled
paid $1.00

All in all that’s almost $60 in product for only $26. That’s a 54% savings! (if I did my math right).

I like the discounts at Kroger because they will double (up to .50 coupon) & triple (up to .39) coupons. You can also load ecoupons on to your Kroger card from the Kroger website and even print out a list of what’s on there to keep with you. The only thing I don’t like about these is they don’t double and you can’t use them with any other coupons (at least if I remember the policy correctly). CVS and Walgreens have clear ads, will often note if certain items have a coupon in the Sunday paper to match, and will offer store credits on certain purchases. CVS has a shopper card you’ll need to get to get the best deals and sale prices. They also have a coupon machine in the store. You scan your card every time you go in and it will spit out some coupons for you. I also have both of these within walking distance to my house so it’s not a hassle to run and pick up some goodies. Walgreens also puts out a monthly coupon book. You can use these in ADDITION to manufacturer’s coupons for extra savings and they just scan the coupon in your book so you can use it all month long. Wal-Mart doesn’t double/triple coupons but they will price match, which is AWESOME when CVS or Walgreens is out of a sale item.

To get the best bang for your buck, hang on to your coupons and wait for the item to go on sale. Just because you clipped it this week doesn’t mean you should use it this week. Discounted price + Coupon = Big Savings! If you find a store with an item on sale, plus you have a manufacture’s coupon AND you have a store coupon then you’ve hit the jackpot. But matching all of this up does take some time. You can match the ads with your coupons yourself OR you can use a handy website that will do it for you. and are two good ones but there are tons more. One thing you do have to be careful about is that the grocery store match-ups like Kroger and Albertson’s are regional so your store’s sales might not match up with the website’s posted deals. CVS, Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart are all national and should be correct regardless of where you live.

Last week I spent about an hour and a half each evening looking through deals, getting familiar with the websites, and planning out trips. This week has been quite a bit less but I also haven’t needed as much in the way of household stuff. How much time you spend it completely up to you.

Hope this is helpful. It can be really confusing when you are first trying to figure it all out. Different websites have different codes and it took me forever to figure out what ‘Catalina’s’ were. (They are the coupons that the register spits out at the checkout.) Feel free to ask questions. And let me know if you score an awesome deal. It always makes me a little proud of myself when good planning pans out into big savings!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Coupon Binder

Most couponers will tell you that organization is the key to savings success. You can't use a coupon if you can't find it, right? The Krazy Coupon Lady has a great little video here explaining two different methods of setting up your coupon binder. I like the clipping method just because I can then toss, or pass on, the ones I know I won't use. Less clutter.

Now, I'm a homeschool mom so I had most of these 'supplies' already laying around the house. With the purchase of a package of baseball card holders ($5 at Target), I was good to go.

Target also has some REALLY cute binders that looked all fun and girlie but I already had this plain black one and it worked for my budget :)

This is the first page: A plastic page protector where I keep my designated coupons for a particular shopping trip. I tossed a few paper clips in there to clip them together and some post-it flags to label each group of coupons with the name of the store I plan on using them at. This way I can plan several different trips at once and they are ready to go when it is convenient to go to that particular store.

The second page is a homemade Table of Contents. Krazy Coupon Lady also has a printable one of these that's very cute but I knew I didn't want all of her categories and it's not alterable so I opted to make my own. (Sorry, these pictures are not very good, at all)

Next I have a copy of sales cycles in the left pocket. This is a list that breaks down each month and lists items that typically go on sale during that time. I keep the current month on the front page for easy reference. In the opposite sleeve are all of my store coupon policies. This way I can refer to it if there is ever an issue with a transaction while I'm in the store.

The next sleeve is where I keep my Walgreens Coupon Booklet. (A book of coupons you can find at the front of the store with the regular weekly ad.) I also keep retail store specific coupons in this sleeve. For example, here I have some coupons for Compass Trading Co. because I've got a graduation gift to buy soon.

This next sleeve is usually empty but this week I happened across two really good coupons that I knew my sister Erin might use. It's her sleeve. Sometimes it holds sales ads.

And finally, this is what the rest of the binder looks like. Pages and pages of baseball card holders precisely stuffed with various coupons. Each page has its own category designation. I think this part is pretty. It strangely makes me happy to see all of these useful pieces of paper neatly tucked away. I know. I'm odd.

So there it is. Now, show me yours.