UK Survival Guide to Extreme Couponing
If you have already started building your stockpile then you will quickly notice how expensive it can become. This is where extreme couponing can help you out. If you have seen the TV show Extreme Couponing you will see how these people are building huge stockpiles of food for next to nothing. The great thing is, it doesn’t just stop at food, this works with almost anything that you need. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it will be an easy ride, it will take a lot of time and patience but it will pay off. Read on to find out how you can build your very own stockpile at a fraction of the cost.
Walking past a £5 off coupon on the floor is no different than walking past a £5 note.
What is Extreme Couponing?
First off, it isn’t going to be anywhere near as easy as the TV show makes it look. You are not just cutting the odd voucher out of a magazine. You need to put in hours of hard work and systematically cut out hundreds of coupons, and then work out how and when to use them in the most effective way possible. Stick with it however, and you could walk away with piles of food, toiletries and more for a fraction of the normal cost. You are not likely to reach the kinds of savings that the show broadcast, at least not when starting out, but you should be able to make huge savings on your bill. There are three main types of couponer:
- Casual Couponer – just uses a few coupons here and there to make little savings.
- Skilled Couponer – these save on most things they buy because they follow two principles: buying things that are discounted and wherever possible combining that discount with a coupon. Saving at this level takes more effort, but only a few hours every now and then.
- Extreme Couponer – these are called extreme for a reason. These are dedicated skilled couponers that take it even further. These aren’t content with just using a manufacturer’s coupon. They add in a store coupon at the same time.
Don’t be Ashamed
It is suprising how many people I know that would never use coupons, almost as if they feel ashamed to do so. They would much rather pay full price for something rather than cut out a 50% coupon and make a saving. This doesn’t make sense to me and you have to understand that you are well within your rights to use them. You may take a while at the till but in doing so you may also inspire others to start making their own savings. If they don’t like it, there are plenty of other tills they could use.
The Basics of Extreme Couponing
Coupons are everywhere, follow our tips below to help get you started.
- Print Coupons – there are many websites that are dedicated to bringing us all the latest coupons. Some of the most popular include Super Savvy Me, Caring Every Day, and MSE. Some sites only allow one coupon per item but others don’t so once you print your coupon, leave the page and try again. It will tell you if you have reached your limit.
- Newspapers and Magazines – we all have these laying around and many of them will have coupons and vouchers inside. A couple to keep an eye out for are free in-store magazines and newspaper coupons. The metro newspaper is great for coupons and almost all supermarkets have their own free magazines.
- Manufacturer Coupons – These are usually high-value and sometimes get you a freebie. There are several ways to get them, but it does take a bit of effort. Let a company know how much you love them, let them know when somethings wrong with a product, competitions, or just ask.
- Loyalty Cards – There are hundreds of loyalty cards and signing up to the ones for the stores you visit at least once a month is worth it as some send coupons out of the blue. Some of the best include the Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar, and Boots Advantage.
- Review Products – Reviewing products can be a good way of receiving free products and discounts. The more effort you put in, the better.
- Cashback – With cashback apps, you sign up and use digital coupons to claim special offers on specific grocery items. They get paid for generating extra sales, and pass some of this cash back to you. Some of the best apps include Checkout Smart, Shopmium, and Green Jinn.
- Price Compare – Supermarket comparison site Mysupermarket checks many major stores including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Waitrose and Boots to tell you at a glance what’s cheapest where. You can even set price alerts to notify you when a selected product has gone down in price so you know when to pounce.
To stack up your coupons means that you need to combine offers into one transaction to really chop down the price. Not all retailers and coupons allow stacking, and sometimes it’s a temporary glitch. The general key to this is to use a manufacturer’s coupon alongside an in store offer or coupon.
Here are some coupon stacking tips and tricks:
- Coupons with Store Sales – It’s all well and good using a 50p off coupon for a £2 product, but if you wait for that same product to go on sale at half-price (£1) and then use the 50p off coupon, you’d only pay 50p! See where we’re going with this?
- Coupons with Cashback – Remember the cashback apps mentioned earlier? You can combine that with coupons, providing that they are for the same product.
- Cashback, Coupons, and Sales – There are sometimes deals which can make you a profit by combining all of these offers.
- Discounted Items – The reduced section is where items which are broken, being discontinued or nearing their sell-by date and are being sold at a fraction of the price. If you can match a coupon to an item here, you could pocket a bargain.
Terms and Conditions
For couponing to work, you must make sure that you are following each coupons terms and conditions. Some of the most common terms that you will come across include:
- One coupon per product purchased – You can use as many coupons as you’d like as long as it is one coupon for each barcoded product.
- One coupon per transaction – You can only use one coupon on each receipt for a specific item.
- One coupon per customer – Pretty self-explanatory. The way around it is to bring more people shopping.
Don’t be hoodwinked into ‘upshifting’ – buying a more expensive brand than you actually want – just because you’ve got a coupon. For example, if you’re a devotee of Asda’s 40p own-brand chocolate buttons, you won’t save cash by upgrading to a £1 premium brand simply because you’ve got a 20p-off voucher.
If you want to go the extra step from couponing to Extreme Couponing, follow our tips below.
- Hunt everywhere you go – coupons can be found in so many more locations than just newspapers, magazines, and online. Check packaging of items that you already have, go to specialist events, and pick up what others leave behind.
- Study store policies – Coupon policies differ by supermarket, and sometimes by offer too, which means it can be notoriously difficult to be certain about what exactly’s allowed. Be sure to study each stores policies and don’t be afraid to ask them if your not sure.
- Crack the barcodes – With a practiced eye, you can decipher a coupon’s barcode before you get to the till to see how much it’s going to scan for. You can do this with any coupon, but it’s especially useful for coupons with no obvious face value (eg, 50p or £1 off). By looking at the last four digits, ignoring the last one, those three numbers tell you how much the coupon will scan for. So if it says ‘299’, it will scan through at £2.99. If it said ‘050’, it would scan at 50p and so on. Some coupon barcodes read ‘000’. This means the cashier will have to input the value manually at the till by checking the price, so be prepared to let them know if you get this type of coupon. Note: Reading barcodes only works on supermarket coupons and printable coupons for high street stores.
Overage is the holy grail for couponers, where you actually get money back on the cost of your shopping when the value of the coupon is higher than the cost of the product. It’s a cool trick that comes around every once in a while if you have a high value, manufacturers’ or freebie coupon.
If you have a coupon worth £1 and the product costs 60p, the extra 40p left over is called the overage. Be careful though, this extra money cannot be taken away as profit from the till, so if you do happen to get this, make sure that you have something else in the trolley to use the extra overage on. The best thing to get with the overage is products you struggle to find coupons for e.g. fruit & veg or meat, that way you are saving money on all of your shopping instead of just items with coupons for.
By the time you’ve cut out your 100th coupon, it’ll hit you – you’re gonna need some sort of system. Keeping track of your couponing – what you have, what they’re for and crucially when they expire – will not only stop the embarrassing last-minute rummage at the checkout, it’ll also help you maximise your savings.
A basic spreadsheet works fine. The key things you need to include are:
- What product the coupon’s for
- Where you can use it
- How much it’ll save you
- When you need to use it by
- Other terms & conditions – eg, can you only use as part of a bulk buy?
Have anymore tips you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below.