The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.
My attempt to reach the legendary free extreme-couponing shopping trip began at my mailbox.
With last week’s list of sales and coupons in hand, I headed to my apartment, but stopped when I noticed the overflowing recycle bin. As I thought about achieving this life-long dream of mine, as well as my empty refrigerator, I had a realization: I needed to relinquish my dignity and dig through the trash in search of more coupons.
To my dismay, I only claimed one envelope, but I found another offer from King Soopers which stated that if you transferred a prescription they would credit you a $25 Soopers Card.
Amanda Meek's receipt from King Soopers from which she only spent $5, six percent of her total bill. (CU Independent/Robert R. Denton)
Once back in my apartment, I began looking over the coupons and matching them with this week’s sales. Thanks to the Super Bowl, there were many items at a discounted price. I was very pleased to find eight coupons for free items.
The idea of taking home more food for free than I expected blew my mind. I was hooked. I had to have more.
In my pursuit of $0.00, I began to look for more coupons online. I scoured the internet and stumbled upon the blog called Deal Seeking Mom. The blog includes daily updates on ways to score items for cheap, ways to use coupons and advice on how to be an extreme couponer. In the resources section, I found that some sites allow you to load coupons onto your Soopers Card.
I searched through the coupons on www.RedPlum.com and www.Coupons.com for more sale matches. I planned to use as many as I could, but I wanted to only buy items that I really needed.
Extreme couponing definitely has it’s ups and downs. My roommate documented my experience via Facebook during the highs: “I don’t think this is a friendly coupon. No, this is a friendly coupon! Yes, I’m going to save so much money on Yoplait!” and during the lows, “Help, stupid coupon doesn’t make sense!” She witnessed my mental break down at 2 in the morning and even documented a picture of me nearly in tears with a quoted gibberish caption, “Meaning of coupon is not what I thought meaning of coupon was, so I don’t know what I’m doing.”
That’s when I knew it was time to go to sleep, but as I laid down, my mind was buzzing. I was calculating numbers, estimating product prices, and trying to think of what else I needed from the store.
With a semi-sane mind the next morning, I ran to my computer and started searching on various brands sites such as www.Pillsbury.com, and www.BettyCrocker.com.
I finalized the list of coupons to use:
(2) Free King Soopers Large Eggs 1 dozen
Free box of Poptarts 8 count
Free Oscar Meyer Beef Bologna 16 ounces
Free Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing 16 ounces
Free Kroger Peeled Mini Carrots 1 pound
Free box of Kroger Cold Cereal 12-14 ounces
Free Kroger Peanut Butter 16-18 ounces
$1.00 off when you buy 2 Ragu Pasta Sauce Jars
50¢ off when you buy 2 Kroger Cheese packages (8 ounces)
$1.00 off Bee Sweet Citrus Cara Cara 3 pound bag of oranges
50¢ off when you buy 2 Pillsbury Crescents dinner rolls
$1.00 off when you buy $4.00 worth of fresh vegetables
$25 grocery credit when you transfer a prescription
About 3 o’clock the next day, my stomach was growling. I had little to no food, and if the snow kept up I could have been trapped for days surviving only on rations from my roommate’s shelf. I ventured to King Soopers in the snow and I spent an hour in search of everything on my list. Once I was sure I had everything, I picked up my prescription which credited the $25 to my Soopers Card, and headed for checkout.
Similar to most extreme couponing trips, I ran into a snag and the cashier needed to re-run my entire order. I watched diligently at the cashier’s computer screen as each item was scanned to see if an e-coupon loaded on my card was taken off.
At the end, the cashier scanned my coupons, and I watched as the balance magically reduced until my “50 cents off $2 spent on canned vegetables” didn’t work. The problem was that the Hunt’s tomatoes and tomato paste which was located in the canned vegetables aisle didn’t count because a tomato is a fruit.
My rash decision to buy a couple canned vegetables resulted in my defeat.
I checked out at a total of $5, not the legendary $0, but I still took home about $70 worth of food for only $5. The savings results were the following: $2.50 saved from manufacture coupons, $60.54 Sooper Card savings (all of the store coupons, the grocery credit, and sales), $63.04 total coupon savings and 94 percent off my order.
I took home a total of thirty-one items with the change you could find in my car:
2 jars of Ragu
2 Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls packages
3 packages of Kroger cheese
2 white onions
1 bag of shelled soybeans
1 can of diced tomatoes
5 cans of tomato paste
1 can of peas
1 can of green beans
1 can of corn kernels
2 large potatoes
1 carton of Almond Breeze
3 pound bag of oranges
2 dozen eggs
1 box of Poptarts 8 count
16 ounce of Oscar Meyer Beef Bologna
1 bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1 pound peeled mini carrots
1 box of Kroger Cinnamon Swirls
1 jar of Peanut butter
Something to remember about couponing is that despite the amazing deal you may find on an item, if you don’t use it, you are throwing away the nickel you spent to purchase it. I am predicting that I will use all of these items within a month and a half, and honestly, I probably could have bought even more food although then I would have to store it.
Stock piling is a waste of your money. I learned this lesson the last time I went to Costco and came home with toilet paper I bought in bulk. I had read on all of the couponing blogs that you should, and I regrettably did. Now my entire bathroom cabinet is full, an entire suitcase is stuffed, and I even gave a few rolls away in my attempt to keep my home organized. I now realize that the money that I saved by buying in bulk is really just being spent on storage space or was given away. If you pay $500 a month for your 500 square-foot apartment, and half of the space is used for stock piling your bargains you really are paying $250 dollars a month to store all of the stuff.
The best advice I can give to those who want to save massive amounts of money on their grocery bill is look out for unconventional ways to save money such as transferring a prescription for a $25 credit, combine store or manufacture coupons with sales and look for traditional hard-copy coupons, print coupons or coupons that can be loaded to your card.
Extreme couponing calls for extreme measures; sometimes you’ll have to dig through the trash, but if you want to save 94 percent on your shopping, you are going to have to go to the extreme.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Opinion Editor Mandi Meek at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Spendaholics anonymous: College budgeting
- Spendaholics Anonymous: The seven deadliest sins for your wallet
- Spendaholics Anonymous: Savvy book, savvy life
- Spendaholics Anonymous: Put your money where your mouth is
- Changing the airwaves