If you haven’t integrated coupons into your prepping plan yet then it’s time to start. Coupons are just as valuable as the fiat money you carry in your pocket. Through traditional coupon use your average coupon is worth $1 and can either get you a product for less money or get you a name brand/better quality for the cost of a generic. But have you stopped to explore the world of extreme couponing? Sure there is a show on TLC about this topic called “Extreme couponing” but have you stopped to watch and see what it’s about?
Extreme Couponing is the general term used by the practitioners to describe using coupons to build a stockpile of items for virtually free. In some cases where stores permit it they even make money walking out of the store with carts full of goods. For a prepper this makes perfect sense, you get to build your own stock pile of goods for free.
So, how does it work you say? The trick goes like this. First you need a massive supply of coupons we are talking like 10-30 of the same coupon. Next you need to keep your eyes on the weekly sales circulars, and clearance racks in your area and be mindful of the items you have coupons for. Learn the seasonality of the industry and what items are on sale or clearance when and time your coupons accordingly. Next is to be mindful of the stores in your area that offer double coupons. It’s becoming common for these stores to discontinue their double coupon programs or in the case of giant eagle to reduce the doubling to coupons that are $0.99 or under (very small percentage). In some cases you can mix Manufacturer coupons with in store coupons as well. Then you use the coupons to buy the smallest sized item allowed to get the lowest unit price. So here is how this looks.
On sale: $1.50
Manufactures Coupon: -$0.75
Doubled Coupon: -$0.75
It’s hardly worth driving to a store just to buy one bottle of mustard so you will need to have multiple of the same coupon so you can buy 10+ of these items. Otherwise you are losing money in gas and time.
Where to get lots of Coupons
In the digital age there are a number of places online where you can print coupons. Most stores accept them, just make sure they are valid coupons, in the end it’s up to their register to recognize and accept the coupon.
The next way is through your Sunday paper. I know personally we spend $10 a month on the paper and save far more cash per month then the cost of the paper. However it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to buy 12+ subscriptions. Some people call their local newspaper and get the extra circulars delivered to them to recycle. Some people dumpster dive for the papers after the fact. Others will find places like hotels that give out free newspapers to their guests on Sunday and make a deal to recycle them for them. As well many donate some of their stockpile to and use that as part of their pitch. Donating to a local food bank is a great way to help you rotate large stockpiles and help your community.
Also there is a magazine called “All You” that has a bunch of coupons inside it. This is another great source of coupons. You can get a 3 year subscription online for $20-30 if you dig through internet sites.
Catalina Coupons Machines are another key to many extreme coupon masters. These are the machines that spit out coupons when you check out. Sometimes they will spit out generic $2 or $3 coupons off your next purchase. These can be used on items you like that aren’t on sale or those that are nearly free and make them free.
Word of caution, do not photocopy coupons that is illegal and you will get in serious trouble for it.
These are slowly getting phased out by many stores, depending on your region, Kroger, Giant Eagle, and Meijer offer double coupons. You should call your local store to find out their policy.
Caution: Making Money vs Saving money
Extreme couponing is time consuming. Depending on how much money you make in your profession per hour it may be more effective for you to just work extra hours then to do the extreme couponing. However if you have a spouse that stays at home with the kids or works part-time it may be a good option for them to make extra income in the form of a prep.
Extreme Couponing for Preppers
These two lifestyles seem like a match made in heaven. As a prepper we horde massive amounts of food and products in case of a monetary collapse and extreme couponing allows you to get those products for virtually no money but at the cost of some extra time and planning. If you are ready to start extreme couponing then start by visiting TLC or Youtube and watching some episodes of extreme couponing and see for yourself what it’s like and get motivated. Order your Sunday paper to get the sales circulars and some coupons. Then start working out where to get your massive coupons stash from and your off and running.
Good Luck, stay calm and be prepared!
From: Christopher de Vidal
An unbelievably helpful book on this subject is “The Complete Tightwad Gazette.” Amy helps you to think very analytically about coupons, along with many other helpful principles. In many cases, coupons can be counterproductive. Think of them as just a tool in your frugal-living toolbox.
Definitely a book worth checking out. Get it from your library, free 🙂 If they don’t have it, ask how to use “inter-library loan” to get it from anywhere in the country. I was surprised how easy that is.