SO What Is COUPONING?
When most people think about coupons they automatically envision making a shopping list by determining what they need to buy, then looking at the ads and coupons to see if there is anything they can use. But when it comes to “extreme” couponing, that method is a little backwards.
There is one main strategy that we are going to focus on here:
Shopping with coupons while items are on sale and stocking up on those items while they are cheap or free.
This is really the only focus you need to have when you learn about couponing. Seasoned couponers are already well used to this idea and in turn have started their own “stash” if you will. The idea is not necessarily to buy what you need for the week, the idea is to buy what you can get for the cheapest price or free, stockpile it, and never have to go to the store because you ran out of toothpaste again (and believe me, toothpaste is the easiest thing to never have to go to the store for).
It is also necessary to be aware that many items go through sales cycles. For example there may be 3 months out of the year where you will get great deals on shampoo. The idea is to stock up on shampoo during this time so that you will have enough to last you through the rest of the 9 months of the year until you can get it on sale again.
It is also helpful if you are not “brand picky, ” meaning not focusing on trying to get deals on just one particular brand of item, at least in the beginning. For example, I find I usually get much better deals on Colgate toothpaste instead of Crest. My husband, however, insists on using Crest 3D White, and believe me it can be a pain to try and seek that out. I have been lucky a few times and managed to stock up when it was on sale.
He also prefers what he calls “manly” shampoo, but it’s rare that I can get good deals on that, so it isn’t uncommon for me to make him use Tresemme or Pantene. He hasn’t complained too much though. He has commented he’s “comfortable enough in his masculinity” to use it.
(On a funny side note, he did get tired of using the so called girly shampoo and asked if he could buy a regular guy one at the store. So I gave in and let him, and funnily enough he ended up coming home with an Herbal Essences coconut one that is probably the most girly one you can get because apparently the store didn’t have any good guy ones.)
Of course, in the beginning, you will not have a stockpile and it will take some time to build it up. But you will be amazed at how quickly you can accumulate stuff especially if you are not brand picky. Do I have a “stash”? Of course! Though I have tried to keep mine to what my husband will accept as reasonable (not that he’s complaining when he never has to buy deodorant again). I have one 5 tier shelf in our office where I store my stockpile, as well as a couple of other places where it just makes sense to keep things i.e. laundry detergent with the laundry machine.
Recently my husband has become a fan of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and there’s this whole mantra of only keeping things that “spark joy.” I have not read the book myself but have heard enough about it to know that stockpiling goes against everything this book teaches, but when asked “Does your stash spark joy?” my answer is a resounding yes, which is why I insisted on bringing it with us when we moved 2 states away (but to be fair I got rid of about half of it).
So along these lines when I find the sheer volume of the stash is getting a little out of control, then I donate it away and try to only keep the items I know we use. For example, I have a ridiculous amount of makeup. Do I wear makeup? Rarely. I’ve frequently given it away, donated it, used it as party favors, etc. And in this way it has not taken over our lives.
Now here is one personal technique of mine that I will share with you regarding the types of items I choose to coupon. When you watch those shows on tv you notice that a lot of the food they are buying cheap are a lot of frozen pizza, soda, processed foods, etc. Not to say that all of the foods you can coupon are really bad for you, but it is pretty unlikely that you will find coupons for fresh produce or high quality meat, for example. My husband and I prefer not to buy a lot a processed foods and instead go for the fresh, high quality items, and let’s face it, those items are not always cheap. It is for this reason that I usually do not use coupons for food items.
Instead I focus on saving on toiletries and other household items that do not expire or have very long shelf lives that we use on a daily basis. It is a lot of these items that can be some of the most expensive anyway. Diapers and razors for instance.
Now, I do not have children as of yet, but I know enough to know that the cost of diapers can suck the life out of you, and you need them constantly while your child is not potty trained. And I also know that if you can stock-up on diapers at even half the cost, it can be a life saver. And razors, well those suckers can be $10 a pop and the refill cartridges are even more expensive. It has served me and others well to buy them at $2 or cheaper. Forget cartridges. Unless they’re a super good deal, then they’re not worth it. Anyway, my point being, I focus on saving on non-perishable household items so that we can use that extra savings toward the high quality types of food we prefer to feed ourselves.
Now, I am not saying you have to use my techniques. If you want to go and coupon frozen pizza, then go right ahead, there is no judgement here. What I am saying is people coupon for different reasons. Mine happens to be so that we don’t have to feel badly about purchasing more expensive groceries (and because I love the thrill). Think about what yours is and determine the best way for making it happen. Whether it is couponing just baby items, just groceries, just toiletries, or anything and everything under the sun, just know that you don’t have to be like those people on tv.
You have a choice in how you coupon and in how big you coupon and these go towards your own personal couponing style to help “spark joy.”