Tuesday Tips: So you want to be an extreme couponer?

Many of you have been watching Extreme Couponing on TLC and I’ve seen many people make comments such as “I want a stockpile like that” or “I want to be able to use coupons like that.  There are a few things that you need to keep in mind.  First, the people on these TV shows have been using coupons for awhile and so they have learned the “tricks of the trade.”  Plus, their stockpiles weren’t built overnight.

You CAN accumulate a stockpile over time if you follow these tips:

1.  Find good blogs that cover store match-ups for your area so you can get a “heads up” on the hottest deals.  I often get asked if it’s “worth it” to pay for subscriptions to services such as The Grocery Game.  I don’t really know if it’s “worth it” because I have never actually tried those services.  The way I look at it is – When your goal is to save money, why would you want to spend money on something you can get for free?

2.  Stock up on coupons for items that you know your family will use – you can do this by buying multiple papers, trading coupons, using a coupon clipping service, or … dumpster diving (I’ve never tried this personally, but I know there are lots of couponers out there who do)  Check out my post here on where to find coupons for more ideas.

3. Stock up on items that you need/use when they are at “rock bottom prices” (we’re going to talk more about “rock bottom prices” next week).  When you do this, you may be spending a chunk of money out of pocket initially, but this also means that you are not paying full price for these items later.  For example, Bird’s Eye Steamfresh veggies were $.67/bag at my Kroger stores this week.  Now that my stores no longer double/triple coupons, this is a stock up price for me, and we use these regularly.  So, I bought 20 bags.  I spent $8.40 (I had a $5 gift card), and those bags retail for $1.40, so I saved almost $20.  For ideas on the items that are at rock bottom/stockpile prices this week, check out my Couponing for a Cause post here.

4.  Organize, organize, organize. One of the BIGGEST keys to making it as a “couponer” is organization.  If your coupons aren’t organized, you will get frustrated and give up quickly.  We’ll talk more about methods for organization soon!  If your stockpile isn’t organized, things will expire or go to waste.  Find an organization system that works for you!

And…as a special treat, I was able to ask Nathan Engels (AKA “Mr. Coupon”) a few questions about his experiences in using coupons. Nathan Engels has appeared on two episodes of TLC’s Extreme Couponing (he donated all the items for care packages for the troops in the most recent episode).  He also runs We Use Coupons, which is a great resource for new (and “seasoned”) couponers.

Here’s my interview with Nathan:

How long have you been couponing?

I’ve been couponing for around 4 years.

(See….I told you this stuff doesn’t happen overnight!)

How did you get your start couponing?

My wife and I got married and realized we were deeply in debt.  So we cut up our credit cards and set a grocery budget.  In order to stretch our budget we looked to coupons to help us!

(I loved this because it is so similar to my own story!)

How much time do you spend organizing and planning for shopping trips each week?

I spend around 5-15 hours depending on the week!

(I asked this question because it’s a common one that I have people ask me…)

How much do you spend per month on coupons that you purchase from coupon clipping services and what’s your favorite service? (assuming you use a coupon clipping service?)  If you don’t use a coupon clipping service, how much do you spend on newspapers?

I actually try to keep my coupon costs as low as possible.  I generally get 3-4 newspapers and then dumpster dive!!  If you are curious about learning more about dumpster diving, watch this video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI5qLtZY8H0

What advice do you have for those who are new to using coupons?

I have really only have TWO tips for newbies!  I call them to two “O’s.  Online and Organization.  Both are super important.  Get online and get organized!

DISCLAIMER: The stockpile pictures is not mine.  It’s just one I found “swagging” online.  One of these days, I’ll take pictures of what I’ve got and how I organize.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


  1. I’ve been couponing for a couple years now and have reconciled to the fact that I will never be as good as those extremers on TLC. They sure make it nice to dream, though! But, alas, none of the stores in my area double or triple coupons, and the stores simply will not compete with the commissary on base. And since I’m not military, I can’t shop on base. What’s worse, is the newspaper stopped carrying coupons completely. Can you believe it? So I manage with what I can find online for coupons, and what’s left of my All You magazine subscription and clip coupons from that, and I’ll contact the manufacturers directly and they’ll usually mail coupons to me. 🙂

  2. By the way, Melissa, I do like the new look of your website. Sorry I haven’t been able to visit often over the past few months, but I do read your posts through Feedburner. 🙂

    • I can’t imagine not having coupons in the paper!! I thought we had it bad when Kroger stopped doubling/tripling coupons 🙂 Good to “see” you again. I smiled when I saw your Balancing Act Basics post yesterday! Can’t wait to see pictures of that new baby! 🙂


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