Confessions of a Reformed Extreme Couponer

I started using coupons long before couponing was “cool” and before the phrase “extreme couponer” came about.  When I first started using coupons, I mainly focused on grocery store deals.  Then I discovered the “drug store game.”  In coupon forums I belonged to, people kept talking about shopping at drug stores like CVS and Walgreens and sharing pictures of all their deals.  I discovered I could get shampoo, razors, toothpaste, and toothbrushes for FREE and it was a rush.  I also learned that I could actually get “paid” to buy certain items after store loyalty programs such as RRs or ECBs and rebates.  I became obsessed with planning out scenarios and trying to get the most bang for my buck.

At that time, there were frequently deals were you could “buy” blood glucose monitors, earn ECBs or RRs and get a rebate as well!  There were also coupons that you could use to “buy” the monitors so it was a total moneymaker.  Before, I knew it, I had accumulated quite a supply of blood glucose monitors.

I remember one year on New Years sending my husband out after midnight to a 24 hour CVS store so we could get this deal on monitors.  While he was there, he ran into an elderly couple who was looking for the monitors as well.  They were both diabetic.  Knowing he would probably face my “wrath” when he got home, he still decided to do “the right thing” and gave them a coupon and told them how they could get the deal themselves.  When he shared what he had done with me and as I evaluated the entire situation (honestly who sends their husband out to do a “deal” on New Years?), I realized that couponing had become an obsession.  I had tried to justify my purchases by saying “but it was free” or “I can donate it” but truthfully I was overly protective of the stockpile I had accumulated and wasn’t donating as much as I should have.  That experience made me realize I was going in the wrong direction and that just because something was free or a moneymaker didn’t mean I HAD to have it.  I decided to move in a different direction, started my blog, and began teaching coupon classes. We organized my stockpile, donated many items we didn’t need, and developed a rotation system.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

Don’t be a shelf clearer – I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but I don’t believe in being a shelf clearer (even when I was in my crazy, “extreme phase I didn’t believe in this).  Buy what you need for your family and can use in a reasonable amount of time.  Telling yourself that you will donate items doesn’t justify it either (again this is my opinion and I’m entitled to it).  If you want to stockpile a certain item, visit multiple stores or make arrangements with the manager ahead of time to order what you need.

Buy what you need, donate the rest – It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement that comes when you learn how to use coupons and take advantage of store deals.  It’s easy to convince yourself that you WILL find a use for those items at some point or that you can at some point donate them if you don’t need them.  If you plan to donate, then donate right away.  There’s no reason to have shelves filled with dog food if you don’t have pets or cereal and pasta that you will never need.  If you’re not planning to donate, just buy what you need for your family and can use in a reasonable amount of time (before the items expire).

Evaluate the time spent – Since this is a “confessions” post, I admit it.  When I was at my most “extreme” phase, I would sometimes make multiple trips per day or week trying to scout out the best deals.  It was time consuming.  It took time away from my family.  At some point, you have to weigh things out.  I have since learned how to prioritize deals and have realized that sometimes the “deal” is just not worth the time spent.

What do you think?  How much is “too much”?  Do you have any “extreme couponing” confessions?

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

Toilet Paper Stock-up Deals!

Someone asked me a few days ago what my “stock up” price is for toilet paper.  That is a hard question to answer because, to be honest, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve paid “real money” for toilet paper.  Toilet paper is one of those things that I stockpile every chance I get because great deals don’t come along very often and it’s something you use EVERY day!  I’d been living off a stockpile I built about two years ago when there were $.50 Angelsoft and Cottonelle coupons that doubled at my Kroger store at the time making them free.  I realized a few days ago that my toilet paper stockpile was growing dangerously low (by my standards, at least!), and that I needed some good deals!

Here are three great in store and online toilet paper deals:


Buy Cottonelle Ultra 12 packs – $5 (purple package only)
$.75/1 Cottonelle – 9-11 SS
$1/1 Cottonelle – 10-2 SS (some areas got a $.50/1)
$1/1 Cottonelle toilet paper from the October Walgreens coupon booklet (usually found by the ads at the front of the store)

**There is a catalina deal that matches up with this: Buy 2 packages, get a $3 RR, buy 3 packages, get a $4 RR

Buy 2 Cottonelle Ultra 12 packs – $5/each

Use 2 $1/1 Cottonelle coupons
Use $1/1 Cottonelle from the Walgreens coupon booklet (will deduct $2)

Spend $6 OOP, get a $3 RR
Final Price = $3 after coupons and RR ($1.50/each) – that’s just $.13 per roll!

AMAZON ~ If your stores are sold out of the Cottonelle or you have Amazon gift cards to “burn” check out this deal!

Amazon has an AWESOME deal on Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper right now and I promise you it won’t last long!  You can get 24 Mega Rolls of Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper for just $24.53/shipped!  That’s the equivalent of 96 single rolls of toilet paper for just $.25/roll!  My “stock up” price for single rolls is $.25-.30 for 2-ply sheets, so this is a stock up price for me and Charmin is my favorite toilet paper!!  PLUS, you can use Amazon gift cards you’ve earned from Swagbucks and you’ll save even more!  I got mine for FREE!   You can also get 18 Mega Rolls of Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper for $18.49 shipped.  That’s the equivalent of 72 rolls for just $.25/roll.

Here’s the breakdown on how you can grab this deal:

1.  Click here to add the Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper 24 Mega Rolls to your cart–>Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper – 24 count Mega Rolls 

2.  Scroll down and clip the $.25 coupon

3.  On the upper right hand side of the screen, choose an Amazon Subscribe & Save delivery schedule and click on the Subscribe Now button.  You can cancel Subscribe & Save at any time and I always choose a 6 month delivery schedule so I have plenty of time to cancel!  They will also send you an e-mail reminder before your next shipment goes out.

SAM’S CLUB (members only) ~ I personally don’t have a Sam’s Club membership anymore.  I found that once I started using coupons regularly I didn’t need it!  A few readers alerted me to this deal, though, and I know some of you love Sam’s Club, so I thought I’d share.  You can place your order online and have it shipped to your home or pick it up in store!  Plus, you can get cash back from, too!

Charmin Ultra Soft Bath Tissue (36 ct Family Rolls) – $19.99 (equivalent of 81 single rolls or $.25/roll)

Charmin Ultra Strong Bath Tissue (36 ct Giant Rolls) – $22.37 (equivalent of 90 single rolls or $.25/roll)

Here’s how you can make the most of this deal and get cash back, too:

1.  Click on the blue “Shop Now” button here–>Sam’s Club + cash back 

2.  When you get to the Sam’s Club site, search for Charmin toilet paper and the two options will come up

3.  When you are ready to check out, you can choose to pick your items up in store to avoid shipping charges!  Be prepared to enter your Sam’s Club membership card number.

(Thanks Wild for Wags!)

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


Six Tips for Preparing for a Hurricane and other emergencies

Shortly after we moved to Texas, Hurricane Katrina and then Hurricane Rita hit.  A few years later, we were faced with Hurricane Ike.   I was raised in west Texas and was pretty much clueless in terms of hurricane preparedness.  I learned a few things along the way and thought I’d share them with you!

Fill your cars with gas ~ After Hurricane Ike hit, it was several days before the gas stations opened and when they did open, the lines were long.  If you have a generator, you will also want to make sure you have extra gas on hand for that.  We also keep an extra propane tank on hand for grilling food.

Make sure you have cash ~ When the grocery stores re-opened after Hurricane Ike, many of them were not able to accept credit and debit cards.  If you didn’t have cash, you weren’t able to make purchases.  It was like this for several days.

Make sure you have water ~ A good rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.  I personally like to keep enough for 7-14 days on hand in my house because if we lose power and it’s in the middle of summer, it’s going to be HOT and we will need to drink water.  I try to stock up on bottled water when it’s on sale.  You will also need water for washing dishes and possibly flushing toilets depending on the circumstances.

We purchased a Water Bob for each of our bath tubs so that we can store water there as well in the event of an emergency.

We also have several Collapsible Water Containers – these definitely came in handy during Hurricane Ike!

Have non-perishable food to last at least 3 days – Our “hurricane food” (as we refer to it around here) includes non-perishable items that we can easily prepare if we don’t have power such as canned soup, instant oatmeal packets, peanut butter and crackers, and Vienna sausage.  None of these are favorites for the adults, but in the event of an emergency, we’d be able to get by.

Have plenty of light sources – Flashlights are great, but they don’t give off much light and they go through batteries pretty quickly.  Candles are one option that is relatively inexpensive.

A battery-powered lantern is another great resource because it provides more light.  These were a huge help in our house during Hurricane Ike.  A family-sized lantern is just $24.99 on Amazon right now.

Solar-powered or crank-operated flashlights are also a great investment.  I’m a huge fan of this American Red Cross Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power, and Cell Phone Charger.  It’s just $30 on Amazon right now.  It works as a flashlight, radio, and cell phone charger!

Prepare for special circumstances – Don’t forget about your pets (they need food and water, too!) and prescription or over the counter medications.  It may be several days (or even weeks) before you are able to fill prescriptions!

When a storm or other disaster is headed your way, it’s incredibly stressful and it’s not the time to be preparing.  Stores are crowded and supplies are limited.  Have piece of mind and plan ahead.

For more tips on emergency preparedness, check out the article written by Nathan Engels on and FEMA tips on food and water in an emergency.

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

Stockpiling: How much is too much?

Yesterday in my “Couponing A to Z” post, I posted about coupon clipping services.  I got some interesting comments and e-mails.  Some people were apparently questioning my comment about buying 10 to 20 coupons to stock up on items when there is a great sale.  Comments were also made about being a “shelf clearer.”

For the record, I want to clarify that I do not EVER advocate being a shelf clearer, nor do I ever clear the shelves in stores.  When I am buying multiple items when there is a good sale, I often visit multiple stores across multiple days or make arrangements with the management in advance  to get the items that I am looking for.

While I do not advocate clearing shelves, I definitely believe in and encourage people to develop a stockpile.  Our family has been through two different lay-offs as well as some other situations where finances have been tight and our stockpile has helped us get through those times.  On a weekly basis, I am able to keep our grocery expenses lower because I am able to use items in our stockpile to feed our family.

So, that leads me to the question:  How much is too much when it comes to stockpiling?

Here are my thoughts:

1.  The think the size of a stockpile will vary based on a family’s size and needs.  I think “too much” is when you have a stockpile that is significantly above and beyond what your family could reasonably use in 6 months to one year’s time, which covers the shelf life of most non-perishable items.

2.  A stockpile is “too much” when you are unable to maintain it.  If you don’t have the space for your stockpile and cannot organize it, then there is a strong likelihood that you will not be able to appropriately rotate and use the items in your stockpile.

3.  A stockpile is “too much” when you have large quantities of items that your family does not use on a regular basis or will never use.  For example, if your family doesn’t eat ketchup or mustard and you have 80 bottles in your stockpile, it is probably “too much.”

What are your thoughts?  How much is “too much” when it comes to stockpiling?  You may also want to check out this article I wrote about Extreme Couponing:  Stockpiling vs. Hoarding for more of my thoughts on this topic!

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

Stocking your first aid kit this week!

There are lots of great deals this week to help you stock up your first aid kits!


Spend $7 on Band Aid bandages or Neosporin products, get a $3 ECB (limit 1 per household)
$1.50 off Neosporin and Band Aid product – 4-17 SS, 5-15 RP
$1/1 Neosporin Lip Health product – 5-15 RP
$.50/1 Neosporin OR Band Aid product – 4-17 SS

SCENARIO: (based on online pricing)
Buy Neosporin Lip Health Daily Hydration – $5.39
Buy Band Aid Water-Block Plus Adhesive bandages (30 ct) – $2.89

Use $1/1 Neosporin Lip Health coupon
Use $.50/1 Band Aid coupon

Spend $6.78 OOP, get a $3 ECB
Final Price = $3.78 after coupons/ECBs ($1.89/each)

**There is also a $3/10 “health care” CRT printing at the scanners – if you get this, it would be $.78 for everything after coupons and ECBs!

**Although sunscreen isn’t necessarily a “first aid” item, it’s important to have on hand and this is a great deal!

Buy 2 Neutrogena Sun Care or Sunless tanning products, get a $10 ECB (limit 1 per household)
$2/1 Neutrogena suncare or sunless product printable

Here’s a scenario for you:

Buy 2 Neutrogena sunblock sticks – $7.99/each

Use 2 $2/1 Neutrogena printables here (print them QUICK because they will not last long)

Spend $11.98 OOP, get a $10 ECB
Final Price = $1.98 after coupons/ECBs ($.99/each)

NOTE: If you get the $3/10 “Health care items” CRT, it will be better than free!

Here’s another scenario:

Buy 2 Neutrogena sunblock lotion or spray – $9.99/each

Use 2 $2/1 Neutrogena printables here

Spend $15.98 OOP, get a $10 ECB
Final Price = $5.98 after coupons/ECBs ($2.99/each)

NOTE: If you get the $3/10 Health care items CRT, it will be $2.98 after coupons for everything!


Up & Up Hydrogen Peroxide, 16 oz $0.52
$.50/1 Up & Up first Aid Item
Final Price =  $0.02 after coupon

Up & Up Acetaminophen Infant Drops – $2.14
$1/1 Up & Up pain reliever printable
Final Price = $1.14 after coupon

Up & Up Ibuprofen – $.97-$1.09
$1/1 Up & Up pain reliever printable
Final Price = FREE to $.09 after coupon

Up & Up Sheer Bandages – $.97
$.50/1 Up & Up First Aid item printable
Final Price = $.47 after coupon!

Here are some other items you should consider adding to your first aid kit:

-Adhesive tape
-Antacids/anti-diarrheal medication
-Antiseptic spray or calamine lotion
-Gauze pads (adhesive and non-adhesive)
-Safety pins
-Soap/antibacterial gel
-Small scissors
-Sterile wipes

-Ziploc bags

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