Could you buy over $1,100 worth of groceries for just $51.67? Or pay off a $600 bill with just $2.64? TLC's new Extreme Couponing special is raising eyebrows with the jaw-dropping savings, massive stockpiling, and even dumpster-diving of its zealous couponers.
While most of us don't aspire to live this group's lifestyle, we can all whittle down our grocery bills by adopting some of their money-saving strategies. We've scoured our communities for simple coupon and money-saving tactics suggested by Circle of Moms members and extreme couponers alike. Grab your scissors!
1. Combine Coupons
Combining manufacturer coupons, rebates, store coupons and in-store sales is a great way to save extra money. Renea H., a mother of three in Pennsylvania, combines coupons to score deep discounts on diapers: "Just picked up Huggies Pure & Natural diapers for less than $3 a pack (jumbo pack) using the $3 coupon from the Sunday paper, and the $2 Rite Aid Video rewards coupon, and the '$5 off a $20 purchase' coupon also on the Rite Aid Video rewards site."
2. Find Extra Coupons Online
In addition to grocery store circulars, there are numerous websites devoted exclusively to couponing. Emily S., a mother of two in Flint, MI, is one of many Circle of Moms members who recommend Couponmom.com and Coupongal.net: "Both sites have all the links to sites to print out free grocery coupons." Several others moms approve of Redplum.com. Melinda M., a mother of one, also advises checking individual store websites: "Some of the grocery stores allow you to select your coupons online so that they will be on your store card. When it is scanned at the register the savings comes off."
3. Keep Coupons Organized
Discount cards and coupons are slippery little things! Circle of Moms members suggest organizing coupons with envelopes, accordion files or coupon binders to avoid losing or accidently tossing them. San Diego mom Niki K. shares, "A clear expandable envelope works miracles (the kind you'd use for bills), then instead of months tabs, you mark store names (or whatever works for you), and you always have them right where you can find them." Meanwhile Rachel R., a mother of three in Germany, has tried two organizational approaches: "I used to have a small accordion file with things organized by category, but it took me forever to find things I needed...so now I have a binder with baseball-card-type pages to separate the coupons. The best part is I have it broken into grocery aisles, so I flip pages as I go, and it's much quicker and easier to see what I have."
4. Buy in Bulk
While you may not want the giant grocery stockpiles treasured by extreme couponers, buying in bulk is a valuable money-saving tip when you're careful to only choose items that your family really uses. Laurie H., a mother of two, buys rice, oatmeal, couscous, and spices in bulk from a local health food store, while Heather B., a mother of one, suggests buying and freezing meat: "Buy meat in bulk and freeze it. I won't pay more then $1.99/lb for any meat, so when it's on sale I stock up. Most meat is good for a few months if put it in the freezer quickly."
5. Plan Ahead
Embarking on each shopping trip with a specific plan is another great tip to borrow from extreme couponers. Jessie T., a mother of one in Busselton, advises making (and sticking to!) a detailed shopping list for the week: "Plan your meals out for the week before you go shopping. It's the best advice I can give. Before I started doing that I was spending $230 a week on shopping. Now that I plan out my meals through the week I only spend $180." With a specific plan, you'll avoid tossing extra items into the cart and racking up a higher-than-expected bill.
Looking for more coupon sites and money-saving tips?
With communities like Coupon Clippin' Mamas (11,000+ members) and Money Saving Tips (400,000+ members), along with conversations on everything from money-saving suggestions for single moms and being green and saving money, Circle of Moms is a great place to find and share money-related advice with other moms.