Extreme Couponing: Where to Begin


I know there are lots of people excited about using coupons thanks in part to the new reality TV show called Extreme Couponing.  I know this little world can seem very overwhelming at first and I am getting lots of questions about where on Earth you can begin if you are new to using coupons.

I will have a series for you to learn the ins and outs of coupons from the very beginning.  I am hoping this is easy to digest information that will have you saving big before you know it.

I should tell you that the show features people that are… well Extreme.  I do not typically shop like the people showcased on the show nor do my children sleep in the bathtub so I can make more room to store my deodorant collection.  I personally have a very reasonable pantry and we have very little space actually dedicated to the products that I buy or get for free.

So there is absolutely a comfortable middle ground for those that still want to be able to park the cars in the garage and don’t have 30 hours a week to cut coupons.  I hope this series I am putting together will be beneficial to those of you that are interested in simply finding easy and fast ways to save a little money. There should be ideas and tips for those of you that really want to go big as well- I encourage you to find the place that makes you comfortable and works for your family.

Soooo.. are you ready?!  Let’s get started!

I personally look at using coupons as just one very easy way to put extra money in the bank.  I have three newspaper subscriptions that come to my home and I spend roughly 90 minutes a week total on coupons- organizing, printing, planning my shopping trips and our menu for the week etc.. I spend another 2 hours or so actually shopping each week.

I typically save at least 50% on my grocery bills- so I look at it is an extra 90 minutes per week and I probably save at least $300 or more per month.   If I had more spare time, I am sure I could save even more.

One important thing I want to mention, is that coupons are not just for people on tight budgets or with limited incomes.  The average coupon shopper has a household income of $70,000+.  Using coupons doesn’t mean you can not afford to pay for groceries, it is just a smart way to save a little on something you need so you can put the money back in the bank or splurge on something you want!

So if you are interested in getting started learning how to effectively use coupons, the very first thing we need to do is get our hands on some coupons!

I  like to suggest starting very small and working your way up.  I do not recommend running out and buying 20 copies of the newspaper- because let me tell you this can be incredibly time consuming.  I like to suggest people start small and get comfortable and then figure out what is going to be manageable to you.

So there are two primary ways to get coupons- the first is the Sunday paper.

The common perception of Sunday paper coupons is to flip through them and if something appeals to you, rip the coupon out and throw the rest away.  The next time you head to the store grab that coupon you tore out and use it and you just saved yourself .50!


What you want to do now is collecting those Sunday paper coupons.  I happen to get 3 subscriptions at my house (so 3 inserts each week) and I will leave it to you to decide how many you would like.  Once you get those babies you can flip through and see what looks appealing- I usually cut about 10% of them out.  Then I tuck them away in my little pouch and I wait for the right time to use it to get the biggest bang for my buck.  The rest of the coupons, I toss in a basket in my closet.  (And we can talk more about fabulous ways to organize all your coupons later.  For now I’d like to start with the simplest things you can do to get rolling.)

Now you want to hold onto those coupons because you never know when they will come in handy.  Some of them will expire in 30 days and some might not expire for an entire year.  So just hold onto them.

So that is your first order of business, you really want to start researching the newspapers in your area.  I would recommend checking out the papers in your city on both Saturday and Sunday- some areas have inserts available a day early and maybe you can get that paper a little cheaper.  I recommend flipping through the papers because one paper in the same city might have double the amount of coupons as another paper.  So it is important to really look and see what is available.  Once you get that sorted out, you will want to track down the best price you can get.  If you are paying $1.50-5.00 per paper each week, well that cuts into your savings.  I pay $20 per year for my subscription- so .38 per Sunday newspaper.  You might check Dollar Stores, call the subscription desk, ask friends- whatever you can do to track down the best price available on the newspaper in your area.  (You can also check Discounted Newspaper Subscriptions and see what they offer.)  You can absolutely get multiple copies of the newspaper sent to your home.  Before you get crazy though ordering tons of subscriptions, I really suggest using coupons for awhile so you can see what you will really need.  I know some sites will recommend getting 10 or more papers a week and I can tell you there is 0 chance I personally could manage that many coupons and I have been doing this for years.

Job # 2 will be to start collecting internet coupons. I post them all the time– the first time you print from most coupon sources like coupons.com, smart source or red plum, they will require that you download a coupon printer.  Each coupon will have a unique barcode so that is why you need the download.  If you install the software once you should not have to do it again.  I think as you start getting more experience you will recognize the coupons you want to print ASAP.  I will usually tell you if I think it is a hot coupon as well.  So this is homework #2.  Internet coupons are a great resource, so if you have a printer you will want to be ready to start printing away as coupons come up!  The really good ones can be gone very quickly- most coupons will have a certain limit on how many total can be printed and you don’t want to miss out.

Two important notes on printables:

1. You can usually get 2 copies of the coupon by using your back bar to go back and the coupon should spool a second time.  Don’t cheat yourself out of your second copy by forgetting to do that.

2. Sadly, you can usually only get those 2 coupons per computer that you have.  If you want extras, you either need access to more computers or you need to sweet talk a friend into printing coupons for you.  It is absolutely never, ever OK to photocopy coupons.  That is actually a crime and please don’t ever put yourself in a situation to get in trouble.

So those are the primary ways to score coupons, you might also start keeping an eye out at the grocery store because you will start to see coupons can be found everywhere!  Sometimes you see little machines that spit out coupons- if it is a product you can use grab one or two of the coupons and just tuck it away.  You might also be on the lookout for little booklets in your stores that have coupons.  Safeway, Publix and Kroger often have great coupon booklets available.  (And there is such a thing as coupon karma so again 2 or maybe 3 booklets is plenty- no reason to take the entire stack.)

The very last step, is you will want to start understanding the coupon policies for your stores.  Each person will have a slightly different experience and it is important you are aware of policies that might prevent you from getting great deals.  You can go to the web site of your store (such as www.Safeway.com) and look for the coupon policy or you can just ask at customer service in your store.  Remember those policies can change at any time so be sure you check back every few months for updates.

So that is part 1.  You are already on the way to starting to score great deals!  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.  There is really a lot to learn so again I am hoping to just take this one step at a time and hopefully it turns into a fun and easy way to start saving big at the grocery store!

… You can continue along with this series by clicking the articles below:

and you can get even more information from the Where to Begin section or if you prefer to watch videos, scroll down here to see topics like price matching and organizing coupon binders.

Finally, you can subscribe to my free newsletter to get daily updates on all sorts of freebies, online deals, coupon deals and more!





  1. sandra cokes says

    I am interested in extreme couponing and the process. Thank you for teaching me.

  2. sandra cokes says

    I am really interested in learning about extreme couponing. thanks.

  3. dorothy says

    one comment, my store don’t do double your coupon and cant use coupon on sale items also most of the time only allow two coupons per family for that one item. I never heard of anyone doing that around here.

  4. m. sandoval says

    Thanks for all the information. I would take any additional tips you can give me. I am not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. I am trying to figure out how people always manage to get so many of an item with coupons and wind up only paying a few bucks. I am a single disabled mother living on a disability check. If there are any other hints you could give me. Things have been really tough for me and my son. I have gone without my medication to make sure I put food on the table for him and I just want to figure out as many ways to stock up food as possible. I appreciate all your help. Thank you for your time.

  5. Alissa says

    I have a question about printing coupons. Coupons will print from my computer on coupons.com but when I try to print from another website such as campbells the screen just says sending to printer and it doesn’t print. My default printer is correct and I’ve done the other suggestions from coupons.com but it still isn’t working. I have three different computers at home and it won’t work from any of them. Has anybody else ever ran into this problem? Any suggestions?

  6. Charlene says

    Alissa, sometimes if you change browsers that can fix the problem. I don’t know why :)

  7. deanna says


  8. Tamie says

    I would like to know the best places to get coupons online from?
    I don’t want to do a ton of places just would like the ones
    that offer the best deals! I am just starting out
    so gotta take it slow! Every little helps! Thanks

  9. sharon g says

    I got some mal ware on my computer from certain coupon sites can you list some safe one. I feel comfortable with coupon suzy. and of course your site…….thanks in advance

  10. Charlene says

    Yes Sharon you need to be super careful with what you click on for coupons. Lots are spam sites :)

  11. carmen galáz says

    Hi I just starting to use coupons if you can give me tips that would be great and can I combine manufacture coupons with the ones I print online

  12. melissa gelb says

    With 5 kids this site could really help put! Thank you! Cant wait to get started!

  13. Shelby Yates says

    We are pregnant with our first child, and live with my grandparents to take care of them. There are four of us, and we have a very limited budget for food. I am very confused about how and where to begin.

  14. Charlene says

    Right here is a great start! I would recommend reading the various articles available and you can start to understand the best ways to shop and how to use coupons effectively. Good luck!

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