Becoming an extreme couponer doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time.
Below is a step-by-step guide to help you on the quest to reach the extreme couponer level.
1. Establish the Right Mindset
If you are content with paying full price for anything, then you aren’t quite ready to be an extreme couponer. Extreme couponing is a lifestyle that requires complete dedication. Your mission is to save as much money as you possibly can on everything and anything less is simply unacceptable. Once you are fully committed to that mission and find yourself getting giddy at the thought of that next deal, then you are ready for Step 2.
2. Get the Necessary Supplies
This serves two purposes … it provides you with the tools you’ll need to succeed as an extreme couponer and it gives you a chance to embark on your first bargain hunt. Here are the essentials you must get:
- Coupon binder/accordion
- File cabinet
- Price book
- Newspaper subscription
You probably already have a computer and a smartphone and the other items can all be acquired at a very low cost if you exercise your discount shopping skills.
3. Develop an Organizational System
In order to be an extreme couponer, you must take organization very seriously. It’s the foundation that sets up all of your couponing activity and the reason why it’s vital for you to get a file cabinet and a coupon binder/accordion. Extreme couponing is built around the concept of stacking and stacking isn’t possible without taking a highly organized approach.
Manufacturer coupons and other printed coupons should be arranged in the file cabinet so you can quickly find them when you are ready to go shopping. Some couponers like to arrange coupons by expiration date, others prefer to arrange them by store and others choose to arrange them by brand or product category. It’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense for you personally.
Likewise, you’ll need to figure out the best method to organize your coupon binder/accordion. This is how you’ll know which coupons to use once you are in the store and ready to check out.
4. Learn the Lingo
Extreme couponers have a language all to themselves. If you don’t know the difference between a hang tag, a peelie and a tearpad then you’ve got some studying to do. The amount of couponing terms and abbreviations is seemingly endless, but once you get accustomed to it, you’ll find yourself automatically using the couponing vocabulary. Check out our Couponing Dictionary for help learning the lingo.
5. Embrace Online Couponing
The world of extreme couponing is changing fast. Like with many other industries, the internet has proven to be a major disruption. More and more stores are choosing to build mobile apps that contain exclusive digital coupons and others are increasing their emphasis on e-commerce and providing more promo codes. Failing to explore and utilize online coupons will limit your couponing efforts now and likely damage them severely in the future.
6. Master the Art of Stacking
Without stacking there is no extreme couponing. Stacking is the act of finding multiple coupons and discounts that can be combined to produce significant savings. When you hear about an extreme couponer buying a bag of Doritos at the store for 25 cents, it’s because they were able to stack multiple coupons on top of a sale price to get an amazing deal.
Stacking requires impeccable organizational and research skills to scan the circulars and find which stores have the best sale prices on items for which you have great coupons. It’s also crucial to understand how each store’s coupon policy works, so that your stacking plans aren’t thwarted by a pesky rule-enforcing cashier or manager.
7. Join the Online #CouponCommunity
One of the great things about extreme couponing is the camaraderie that exists between couponers. Whether it be through a blog or social media (Instagram in particular), extreme couponers love helping each other find incredible bargains.
There is also a strong culture of assisting “newbies” (people new to couponing) in learning the ropes. By cultivating and taking advantage of online (and offline) coupon friendships, you’ll be able to discover deals you may otherwise have missed.
8. Make Room for Stockpile Storage Space
Any extreme couponer worth his/her salt has at least a small stockpile at home. When a truly epic offer hits you must be prepared to buy in bulk, especially when it comes to non-perishable items that you use regularly. For example, if an opportunity to get your favorite deodorant for 50 cents comes along, you’ll want to get at least five, so you can prevent needing to make future purchases at a higher price.
9. Create and Continually Update a Price Book
A price book is a really useful tool for any extreme couponer. What it allows you to do is establish a baseline of prices that you are willing to pay for all of the items you regularly purchase. Those price standards are determined by looking at the data of what you normally spend on those items after coupons.
Once you plan your shopping trip you can then see how much each item is expected to cost and compare it to the price book in order to decide whether to go through with the purchase. If you start noticing that your price book numbers are way off, then it’s probably time to re-assess and update it based on more recent data.
10. Evangelize the Joy of Couponing
Extreme couponers take a great deal of pride in what they do. Sometimes this manifests itself in braggadocios social media postings of their latest haul and other times it results in them spreading the couponing gospel among their friends and family and teaching them how to coupon. Sharing your coupon passion with others is the final step in becoming an extreme couponer.