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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Extreme Couponing? Get Real!

Back in May, I wrote about TLC's "Extreme Couponing" and the resulting coupon craze. Now in its second season, "Extreme Couponing" is still giving many consumers false expectations of coupon savings. Walking out of your local store with hundreds of dollars in free groceries, toiletries, etc. is not realistic

Here's what is:

In the last four months, I've saved $149.72 just by using coupons, plus another $38.38 by taking advantage of sales. I spend approximately 2 minutes each day scouring my favorite online printable coupon source(s) and another 5 minutes clipping coupons on Sundays. This is a far cry from the 40 hours per week those crazy ladies supposedly spend on their coupon habits.

Unrealistic: doubling coupons.
Realistic: Most stores do not double coupons! Here in southern Alabama, there's only a small handful of stores that double coupons, and those that do typically only double coupons up to 50 cents. As most of these stores charge more for their items to begin with, you're better off shopping elsewhere.

This is just one of many reasons I frequent SuperTarget. 

#1) Lower prices: Check out this article from CNN Money stating that, "Target isn't beating Wal-Mart [prices] on all items but it is on those that really matter to consumers."

#2) Stacking Coupons: This means that Target accepts one manufacturer coupon and one Target coupon for the same item (unless prohibited by either coupon).

#3) Multiple Coupon Formats: printable coupons from their websitemobile coupons delivered to your cell phone, and coupons by mail.

#4) Gift Card Promotions: For example, in July Target offered $5 gift cards with the purchase of 4 select Head & Shoulders products. With two BOGO (buy one, get one free) coupons and one $1 off coupon clipped from the P&G insert found monthly in Sunday papers, I took full advantage of this deal. At regular price, the 2 shampoos and 2 conditioners I purchased would have cost $28.66. Instead, I paid $13.08 and received a $5 Target gift card! (Note: These were the 23.7oz bottles, not the standard 13.5oz bottles.)

#5) Buy 4 (or 5), Get 1 Free Deals: Most of the time, the items offered in these deals are also on sale. For example, last week Target had most Kashi foods on sale with discounts between 35 and 50 cents. Most Kashi items were also included in a buy 5, get 1 free deal. I used 4 coupons: $1.00 off 2 Kashi snack items (Target coupon), $1.50 off 2 Kashi TLC Bars (coupons.com), $1.00 off 1 Kashi TLC Pita Crisps (bricks.coupons.com), and $2 off any Kashi item (recyclebank.com). I paid $9.50 for what would have cost $20.29!

#6) Clearance Items: Target generally has an extensive selection of clearance items, from clothing to home decor to groceries, up to 70% off. And they allow you to use coupons on these clearance items. Frequently, Target's coupon site and mobile coupons include discounts up to $5 off specific clothing brands. Find one of these brands on the clearance rack, and you're likely to get it for next to nothing!

#7) No Hassle: In the past, when I shopped at Walmart, I often had problems with coupons printed from the internet. The cashiers would spend a ridiculous amount of time examining my printed coupons and would even consult managers on whether or not they were valid. Not only did I feel like I was being accused of dishonesty, I sometimes had to wait several minutes for managers to come by. In the middle of summer in Mobile, Alabama you don't exactly want to stand around while your ice cream melts in your shopping cart! I have never had this problem at Target. In case you do come across an issue, I suggest you print a copy of Target's coupon policy, and take it with you on your shopping trips. 

Couponing can easily spiral way out of control. Many people feel the need to purchase products they'll never use simply because they have a coupon. Stick to a few easy rules to keep things under control. Only clip/print coupons for items you buy regularly. Don't waste money on Sunday papers that don't have coupons you'll use. Visit the Sunday Coupon Preview to have an advanced look at coupon inserts before you fork out the cash for a paper, and make sure those coupons, at the very least, offset the cost of the newspaper. There's no sense in spending $2.00 on a paper for 25 cents in coupons! 

My first post on "extreme couponing" can be found here. It includes more links you may find helpful.

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