Extreme Couponers Share Frugal Living Tips
It's official - I'm not just experimenting with extreme couponing, I am an extreme couponer. I know this because my cabinets and freezer are still full of food and also because last week's grocery shopping trips were incredibly small ones. Last week at the commissary, I spent $7.29. We bought two dozen eggs, each marked down to .49 with a .55 coupon off of two dozen. We bought a bag of shredded lettuce for $1, a bunch of bananas, a half gallon of milk, and a loaf of cheese bread. As I type that, I can hardly believe it - I've never spent less than $30 on a commissary visit for a family of six.
What makes that trip even more astonishing is that I didn't supplement it with a trip to another store for groceries, like I did last week. I did go to CVS and Walgreens, but both of those trips were pretty small ones, too. At Walgreens, I spent $1.44 (using the green dot Visa I'd already pre-loaded last month at CVS) and received a $1 RR back (and I still have $10 in RRs leftover from last week). I bought two cans of coffee, two bottles of Coffee-mate creamer, and two packages of Orbit gum (to put in someone's Easter basket). At CVS, I spent a little more - $25.89, getting back $10.29 in ECBs. During that trip, we bought candy for the kids' Easter baskets, refills for the Glade scented oil candles that we bought last month at Walgreens, a bottle of Biotene mouthwash that was half-price (I had a $1 coupon for it, too), two bottles of vitamins/supplements, and another two packs of gum.
We are starting to run low on some of the products we stockpiled in January, and it's time to take inventory of the cabinets again before our next shopping trip. I'm sure it must be time to look for low-priced meat, I know we're almost out of cheese, and we're completely out of refried beans. We've got a lot of pasta, but we've used enough that it's time to be on the lookout for sales that will allow us to restock at less than .50 a box.
Not only am I spending less at the grocery store (and drugstores), I'm spending less time planning my purchases and learning how to extreme coupon. This means I've got more time to dig into other money saving ideas that my favorite coupon blogs and forums often talk about.
As I mentioned in an earlier post in this extreme couponing series, I read several books written by couponers so that I could learn as much about couponing as possible. I had no idea that their books would include useful money saving information going far beyond couponing strategies. Extreme coupon bloggers and forums also share good ideas for re-purposing products, avoiding food waste, and meal preparation ideas to save both time and money. If you're looking for money saving ideas, odds are high that the extreme coupon bloggers are blogging about it.
Here are some of the money saving ideas being shared by frugal couponers in my feedreader:
The Frugal Girl's Food Waste Friday posts have been the most influential in my quest to reduce food waste. I really need to start taking my own Food Waste Friday photos -- maybe that will help us cut back on the food waste even more.
ThriftyMom's post about adorable Cutie tangerine Valentines made me wish my children were young enough to make Valentines again.
At Coupons, Deals and More, I learned that I might be able to 20lbs of coarse sea salt, restaurant supply store, for pennies a pound. Now what would I do with that much sea salt? And what else might I find, that I really need, at a restaurant supply store? And where is my closest/best restaurant supply store? I must find out!
One of the books I read, when I first started researching extreme couponing, was Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family. The authors of this book spend one full day cooking virtually all of the food that their family will eat that month. The very idea terrified and fascinated me. Then I met Sarah who has baking days. Sarah's method seems a little more manageable and a lot less frightening to me.
I've also spent some time looking at coupon apps for my iPhone and iPad and love the Coupons.com Grocery IQ app for the iPad. I'm also very fond of A Full Cup, for the iPad. From reading the forums on A Full Cup, I was introduced to Checkpoints and tried it out a little bit over the weekend.
Checkpoints isn't really a coupon app; it's an app that allows you to collect points for checking into local businesses. You earn more points by scanning products found in those businesses. For instance, I checked into Walgreens on Sunday and received two points. I scanned the UPC code on a box of supplements, which wasn't even out of my way since I was looking at supplements, and received another 50 points. Just by installing the app, checking in a few times at different places I was already shopping, and scanning one product, I have 462 points. I can redeem 600 points for a $2 CVS card -- which may not sound like a lot but as you Drugstore Game players know, $2 at CVS can buy a whole lot of product. (And, if I'd taken a few minutes to scan three products at CVS on Sunday, I'd already have those 600 points... I just plain forgot to scan!)
How are you saving money this week? Have you found any great grocery deals? Take a photo, or blog about your deals, and leave your link here.