I made it to the end of Extreme Couponing month! Thirty-one days of only buying things using a coupon. There were two exceptions to that rule. #1 The dentist – I had to go to the dentist and any dentist that offers coupons is probably not one I want to go to! #2 Transportation – I don’t think coupons exist for transit and cabs. I used tokens instead of spending full price on the streetcar, so it was a discount, but I didn’t have an actual coupon. Besides these two exceptions I didn’t buy one thing without using a coupon for it. Thank you to everyone who supported and helped me through it!
Recap of the month
It’s been quite the journey. I learned how to find coupons online (see Links for all the websites I used) and in some cases have coupons mailed to me. I figured out how to organize my coupons (twice, as I had to change my organizing system half way through to make it easier). I bought an Entertainment Book for restaurant coupons and I learned how to better use loyalty cards. I wrote about the history of coupons, interesting facts, stockpiling, getting things for free, coupon clipping services, coupon marketing, group-buying coupon marketing, price matching, and coupon trains and trades. I looked into the differences between Canadian and American coupon shopping (two different days) and how we have a harder time finding great deals in Canada. I interviewed a couple of people, including Mrs. January and a representative of General Mills. I learned to overcome the urge to quit when things got bad, get over the embarrassment of using coupons (see here and here for two of my most embarrassing moments), and eventually started to use them as a means to save money, not just because of the experiment. My Top Ten Reasons Extreme Couponing is an Extreme Sport was mentioned in the Time.com money blog and was featured on Treasure’s Stockpile (Treasure will be on TLC’s Extreme Couponing show in the upcoming season). I managed to eat healthy and find pretty much everything I needed to buy with a coupon (if I didn’t have a coupon, I figured I didn’t need it that badly). There were many ups and downs, but I made it through!
What did I learn?
The thing I’ll take away from this experience the most is an awareness of my own personal shopping habits and ways that I can change those to save money. I started as an unorganized spontaneous shopper and I’m leaving this month planning my grocery shops with lists and price-comparing from online and paper flyers to find the best way to save money. I’ve also learned a lot of useless facts about couponing that have made for very interesting conversations!
The extreme couponing community is very strong. Sometimes, though, I think it’s as much about getting the deal as it is about saving money. It’s a challenge, with the reward of extra money left over at the end. There are a lot of extremely extreme couponers online who give the other ones a bad name. There are ways to coupon without having to buy 150 chocolate bars. I have so much respect for women (and sometimes men) who spend time to save their family money, but still keep healthy and aware of the environment.
I’ve also learned that although it is hard to use coupons for smaller brand or organic companies, it is possible. I know not to buy things just because I get a deal (this is especially hard on the group-buying sites where everything looks like such a huge discount), but to use coupons for things I really want or need.
Where will I go from here with Extreme Couponing?
I am still receiving coupons in the mail, so I will keep using them until they’ve run out – or I will give them away to people who will use them. I will check out the online coupon sites every once and awhile to see if there are any good deals. I still love Mrs.January.com and will continue to visit her website.
Will I become a hard-core extreme couponer? Probably not. But I will continue to use coupons and look out for ways to use those coupons with sale-price items for a real bargain.
Tomorrow I start 30 Days of Art to examine how being creative and artistic influences the way I live my life. Stay tuned…