Eight Truths About Couponing You WON'T Learn from The Learning Channel

You know. One of the most consistent battles we have to fight in our pursuit of self-reliance is misinformation. There’s always plenty to mislead us, cause us unnecessary heartburn, or make us worry. I believe that allowing ourselves to be swayed by misinformation actually diminishes us of our real capability and value in our lives. Take couponing for example. It’s one of my most important strategies in my preparedness efforts because it impacts so many of the Principles of Preparedness.  But I suspect that the new show, TLC’s Extreme Couponing,  is doing more to dissuade folks from couponing rather than taking it up and that bothers me. I bothers me because I KNOW that couponing is a great way for folks to actually achieve a year’s supply of food, clothing, medical needs, etc. for free or cheap and I KNOW that doing so doesn’t require a person to be some kind of a psychotic hoarder with nothing else to do but cut coupons and clear shelves.  So, I’ve decided that today’s article will be dedicated to helping folks cut through the shine-ola and hear the truth about couponing one more time. So, do your worst TLC, ‘cause I’m talking.

Misinformation #1: Contrary to what you see, no, it does NOT need to take you 20-60 hours a week in order to be wildly successful in your couponing.  I have had the very same percentages of savings that you see on the television show on many occasions and I assure you that I did not have to take out a 2nd and 3rd loan from Father Time to do so. You don't have to go through all of the ads and compare them with your coupons. There are plenty of FREE sites that will already do that for you with some pretty cool features to boot. One of the sites I use will actually even tell me which aisle of the store the product's located in. Cool! How much better can you get? Bottom line, you've got make couponing work for you by setting some boundaries so that you still have time for what's important.  I have a strict rule of only spending 2 to 4 hours a week at the most clipping. selecting, and organizing coupons.  That’s the limit.   Anything more than that is no longer worth my time because it is taking away from that which is priceless, time with my family and time to unwind. Believe it or not, I even spend less time shopping at the grocery store now that I coupon because I've got my list, my organized coupons and my strict budget. I'm in, out, and home lickety split.

Misinformation#2: You can get your regular items for free or cheap without having a store that does “double coupons” in your area. I know, because I live in such an area. We used to have an Albertson’s in our area that would double coupons nearly every week for three days a week, but they had to shut down all of their locations throughout the state. In their place came one more Associated Foods franchise (they are all over the state…*sigh) which doesn’t offer its customers ANY of the key coupon magnifiers that I look for in a store. There is one Associate Foods store near me that will offer double coupons up to a 50 cent face value every Tuesday, but frankly, that’s just not enough to motivate me to go in there. I haven’t yet found a deal so compelling that I had to spend even a minute in their store. In spite of this oh-so-tantalizing Tuesday offer, I do much better with NO double coupon offers at competing stores, all within a mile of this one.

Misinformation #3: A successful shopping trip does not need to be a major production complete U-haul truck, an army of friends,  and cow-towing store employees to help you push your half a dozen shopping carts. When I assure people that they can accumulate a year’s supply of essentials for their family—regardless of the size—in less than 4-6 months of using my coupon system, I do so with the understanding that such an accomplishment is had week by week of realistic shopping ventures. Yes, there are times when my one, single grocery cart is packed to the brim because of a handful of good deals, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Misinformation #4: You do not have to turn into a crazy person in order to successfully coupon. When I say crazy, I’m referring to the person who clears an entire shelf of dozens of bottles of mustard in spite of the fact that she’ll never go through that much—and oh, by the way, her husband doesn’t even eat mustard. Crazy is when you obtain massive amounts of coupons in an illegal and unethical fashion as do the majority of the couponers featured on the show. (It’s absolutely unacceptable to purchase coupons from a clipping service and the majority of all coupons have such a disclaimer on them.) It’s also absolutely crazy to risk a prison sentence because you elected to commit coupon fraud on national television (As did one of their earliest guests—coupon fraud is a federal crime, folks. See:

 

Xtreme coupon scam?

Nope, you don’t have to sell your soul to the devil to be successful, I assure you. There’s no need for hundreds or even dozens of coupons of every item you want to purchase. Right now there’s plenty and to spare and there will be plenty and to spare the next month and the next month. I don’t think I’ve ever possessed more than 15 coupons of a particular items and even then it’s a major exception. Sometimes I’m at only two coupons for a particular product and sometimes I’m at 11. But you’d have to nearly walk on water to obtain dozens or hundreds of a particular coupon without violating some serious U.S. Treasury crimes.

Misinformation #5: Yes, they DO have coupons for the kind of products that you and your family actually need or want. I realize that they are showing a lot of junk food coming across those conveyor belts on the show, but it’s all about what you want to purchase, not what you see on the show.  So long as there are products to sell, there are always ways to save big on them. (I go into greater detail of how this is achieved through my “Enough and to Spare Coupon Training Boot Camp” course.)

Misinformation #6: No, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage just to afford your coupons. Sure you can get them via the newspaper, magazines, etc., but half of my coupons come from the internet and the mail. It doesn’t have to cost you a cent. For those of you who don’t want to spend money on ink and paper (of course, I use coupons to buy my such supplies) you also have a 97% chance that your neighbors aren’t using their coupons as only 3% of all coupons circulated are actually redeemed. There are also the newspaper bins where people put their newspapers—not garbage folks, just newspapers—which you can easily access to make a boon out of other peoples discards.  Personally, I like a little bit more predictability with my couponing efforts so I do subscribe to some sources such as newspapers and magazines. (Correction--apparently the CIC warns against dumpster diving for coupons and warns that it could be considered criminal trespass.)

Misinformation #7: Lastly, you don’t need to irritate the other customers around you at the check out just because you’re using coupons. With the proper organization system and not putting on a show for cameras by purchasing 800 different items, your checkout process should be just as smooth as when you’re not using coupons. In fact, I find that well-organized couponers actually get through the check-out line faster than non-coupon users because they have to be really on top of things and totally organized. It doesn’t matter if I’m handing over 10 coupons or 100 coupons, I’ve got my stuff together and never have taken excessive time to checkout.

Misinformation #8: Couponing is NOT the same as hoarding. When I watched the first episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, my jaw dropped again and again and again. I was aghast at what I was witnessing because in some ways it seemed like I was watching their show called “Hoarders”, not a show about purchasing groceries. However, considering that I’ve had plenty of folks judge my preparedness efforts as hoarding—“What in the world do you need 1200 pounds of wheat for?”—I’m somewhat guarded against judging others.  For all I know, they are going to go and donate the stuff to the Food Bank or they have extended family of 20 that they want to be in a position to help when things go south. The bottom line is, don’t allow the unfathomable amounts of stuff that these folks purchased on the show dissuade you from taking control over how you can stock up on the items that you need; stabilizing your dollars as best as possible and fight against inflation. And remember, it is, after all a television show. If there’s no sex or violence a TV show, you’ve got to at least have the “train wreck factor” which is what you get when you have someone purchasing 93 bags of croutons.  But if you’re purchasing items that your family will actually use and if you’re rotating items properly, then don’t give a flying flip what other folks think when they see you with 14 rolls of Brawny Paper Towels in your shopping cart. In my house a single roll of paper towels lasts me about 3 weeks. So yes, if I can get 14 rolls for less than 50 cents each, then I’m going to purchase them for certain because paying 50 cents for them today means that I don’t have to pay $2.99 six months from now just because I ran out.

The bottom line is that with all that’s going against us nowadays to compromise our many Principles of Preparedness we don’t need to have our honorable efforts misconstrued and debased. Couponing is one of the most important strategies that I employ in my preparedness efforts because it applies to nearly every Principle of Preparedness. So don’t give up on it just because of how it’s portrayed on TV. Saving only 50% on your essential purchases will make a big difference over a year, let alone saving 90-100%. So give yourself a shot at it.  I think you’ll end up feeling much more in control of your life and your future in this crazy world we’re living in. And that’s the kind of peace all of us could use in our preparedness efforts.

To learn more about how you can save money in your budget using coupons, get our in-home education course, "Enough and to Spare, Coupon Training Bootcamp" and start saving today by learning all the Preparedness Pro's secrets!


I find that I actually am spending less time at the store when I coupon because I've got my list, my budget, and as such I just zip through the aisles, the checkout, and am on my way.

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Comments

Good info, Kellene!

My wife has been using http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ for a couple of years and loves it. It's a subscription service, but even occasional use allows it to pay for itself.

This is one way we stock up on supplies.

Joe

My children and I watch this show. And honestly, laugh through most of it. You are right, most of these folks are hoarders. There are 2 that I have seen that have donated their stuff to shelters/food pantries. And they are both men. In our area, one store doubles coupons and I do try to match up sale and coupons & sometimes I can maximize this effort and get products for really cheap-free but not often.

I was really into couponing in the 70's. (Old duffer here)I remember when the area I lived in was boycotting hamburger because it went clear up to .45 cents a pound! Ahhh those were the days. Of course money was really tight then as well. I used to teach couponing/refunding all over Salt Lake and surrounding areas. Back then there were lots of refunds--don't see that any more. I saved up my refunds in a savings and used the interest to buy stamps, envelopes etc. In 6 months I had enough to buy a set of bunk beds, a king size bed and a canopy bed plus 4 new tires. I think what TLC is showing does help to inspire people, but like some of the people say who are doing this; "This will be my biggest coupon shopping spree ever". I now live in a rural area; no double coupon days, very few refund offers, and a limit on variety of products, but I still use coupons, work on it maybe 5 hours a week and buy 2 Sunday papers (no dumpster diving here! They'd need a crane to get me out and besides-yukkie!)

Excellent article! When I talk about my couponing and stockpiling with others, they often mention something about hoarding. That's when I explain the difference that most people don't understand...

Hoarding is emotional and usually results from some sort of panic or fear.

Stockpiling is logical preparation and planning.

It's as simple as that.

Finally a rational approach to couponing. I've watched that show a few times and started to hyper-ventilate. What are they going to do with 100 boxes of cereal? Hopefully donate but I doubt it. What about expiration date? What about little critters? I bought your Boot Camp and am currently listening to that. Haven't finished yet but I'm not hyper-ventilating! One last thought, how about that poor soul that has only one coupon they would like to take advantage of!!!!!!!!!!!

I like how you pointed out that there are coupons that are for everyday foods. I used to coupon but all it really saved on and I saved 143 dollars once in one trip but I feel it was on junk food so I stopped couponing because I feel I can get generic brands cheaper at Fred Meyers. Fred Meyers has a lot of good store coupons and great deals often I also done need a particular brand.

The store brands have never ended up in my household for free. Never. Whereas by household is stacked full of free stuff from namebrand products.

How do you get around the fine print? "limit one coupon per item." I use coupons regularly, and I save many dollars with the coupons, but I always see you talking about getting things for "free", I have yet to do that, my best to date has been paying .49 for a 3.49 item, with the 3.00 off coupon.

How do you get to "free" and still follow the fine print?

Wayne, Emily's answered your question below. Even if if wasn't about the manufacturer's coupon, I've still purchased many items for free or cheap just using the one manufacturer's coupon when combined with a good sale.

My sister was at Smiths in Las Vegas this past week using some coupons from the internet and one of the workers told her that with in the month that Smiths would no longer be accepting internet coupons. Has anyone else heard this? This would be sad since so many good coupons are coming from the internet these days.

It's always better to contact the stores directly rather than buying in to any rumor mill from the employees or the internet.

I would also recommend taking Kellene's Coupon Bootcamp training. It is very informative and helpful. My daughter and I took the class together and she has become really good at it and helps to inspire others. I have gotten lazy and need to get back on the bandwagon. Thanks for the reminder!

Good article as always. I took your coupon bootcamp and have saved so much..I am sorry that since the tv show came out Kroger here has dropped its double and triple coupons as well as using e coupons with other coupons..I have manage to save at least 50-70% on all of my groceries and other products. I am thankful that I found your site when I did because it gave us good information and have almost a complete year of groceries in case we should need to have long term food storage or just to the day food stores, Thanks again.

I live in the lovely state of California where if you go into a grocery store and ask them if they double coupons, they give me a weird look like I have a second head growing out of my neck. They have no idea what I'm talking about so I might not get as many killer deals here as in other places but there are definitely still things that are cheap or free.

In regards to Wayne's comment about "one coupon per item" it means that you can't use more than one manufacturers coupon for one item but many stores will have their own store coupon for an item that they will allow you to use with a manufacturers coupon. It's not illegal to do that. You just have to be familiar with the different store coupon policies. I'm sure Kellen's bootcamp explains the basics of stacking coupons.

I so recommend Kellene's ENOUGH AND TO SPARE coupon class available on DVD. I purchased it two weeks ago and now have a 3 month supply organized on shelves. I spent less last month acquiring extra than a normal month and earlier today when our electricity went off, I had zero anxiety, knowing we were prepared.

Kellene, I'd like to suggest that your readers also take full advantage of stores' preferred-customer cards without ever turning in the info cards with their name, phone number and other pertinent information. I've gotten huge bargains on store-brand and even national-brand food items (sometimes the national brands are marked down more than the store brands--a few months ago, I got about 300 cans of Hunt's diced tomatoes for 47 cents a can with my Kroger card). But if I'm ever required to fill out those info cards to continue getting discounts, I put my name down as Ted Nugent and my address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! :)

Yes, I address the variety of combinations and "coupon magnifiers" in the course. I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with the NOT providing your info for the Rewards cards. No one needs to know and track what you're purchasing.

I don;t know where to post this,so I;ll just do it here..but in case anyone is thinking about buying tires..my husband works for a company that has big trucks(cement mixers) and a whole fleet of regular trucks and the tire guy was in to see him today (hubby fills all the work order for truck maintainance).and he told him they are starting to have problems getting tires..semms like they are running out of rubber in South America where the rubber comes from because of weather...also some kind of wire they use,dont know where it comes from but it is also in short supply...huh..Japan,maybe...might be time to get those tires....

I agree on the whole of your post.
One thing that I have never been able to do is get a 90% savings on my purchases. I too have taken your bootcamp and it was very very helpful.
I also agree that many of the featured couponers are "not right in the head" as we used to say.
There are people who don't go to the extreme as shown but still have some of the same attitudes such as "clearing" a shelf because they can! Bugs me to no end to try and shop on Monday when those couponers have already hit the stores and cleared all the (insert the get for free item) already. I have stopped even trying to buy those items and content myself with a 50% savings!

Cathie, one of the things you may have missed from my guide is WHEN you shop. I never shop on a Monday for that very reason. I always find out when the stores get stocked and am usually shopping on that day, usually late in the day as that's when they are freshly stocked, there are very few people in the store, and the kids are all in bed.

Prices are too high not to coupon, that being said, some of these crazy couponers need to get a life. I spend about 2 hours a week on couponing, and I only go after products that are 70% or higher in savings. What we don't use goes to our church food bank-that week.

Amen, Karen! That's exactly my criteria!

As always, Kellene, you are the voice of reason and spot on information! I live in Fl and Publix has the BOGO's each week...that is what I concentrate on. We use mostly fresh foods and I cook from scratch only, so there are many coupons that don't work for me. You once told me, Kellene, that I could still have those great savings without double and triple coupons. I do ok, but would love to do better. I took your coupon boot camp a year ago, but it might be to my advantage to get your DVD and refresh those tips! My husband and I provide for ourselves as well as those kids who come by and "shop" in our family pantry! Thank you for all you do.

patti -

I was talking to a manager at Publix and if you just buy their BOGO things, you save I think it was 40% over the 'always low prices' at Walmart. That's without any coupons. They track it. I love Publix!

Honestly that TLC coupon show has turned me off coupons so much, I'll start up again sometime but for now I don't even like to think about them. Of course it helps I have a good stockpile already and can afford to skip a few months but still - I have noticed starting Jan 1 of this year the deals are not as good and there aren't as many of them as there were even just last year. I think that show has made manufacturers think twice about putting out high value coupons, knowing what extremes some greedy people go to in order to get free stuff. It's a shame.

Love your thoughts on couponing misinformation. I have found some sites that are very helpful matching sales and coupons and they have helped me cut down on my coupon time a lot! And I have never taken excessive amounts of time to checkout.

Kellen, I am wondering what you do with all of the exra newspapers that you get each week? Have you got some great way to re-use them, instead of just sending them to the recycle bin each week?

fire logs and insulation if need be.

I just found your blog and signed up to receive it after reading a few articles. I live in Michigan and saw that you are holding a coupon boot camp in Orem, UT. Do you do any web based classes? I find your ideas to be very common sense based and am interested in your boot camp, but obviously, it would be sort of rediculous for me to travel to Orem to take the class.

I have a large family, 7 children, all adults, but have three at home, one with a spouse and children, due to the economy. We need to save money on food and essentials, so couponing seems like the way to go at this point. I am hoping you have some good news for me.

No coupon doubling anymore in California (Albertson's is gone) and now Safeway won't take printed coupons. I just won't shop there as much as I used too. I watch the show and wonder about waste...hope they don't let things expire and then toss them. I also wonder if it's very smart to put all that you have on national tv for everyone to see?? Extra newspapers are also good weed blockers in the garden.

I have used newsprint in my gardens as weed block for as long as I can remember. I will have to do some research on the fire log application - interesting. I need to get organized....hahahaha

Unfortunately, "that show" with the crazy people is going into another season. Here's a couple of strategies I use:

Using a laser printer to print coupons. More cost efficient than inkjet and a good quality business type machine can be bought at auction for less than $50. Cheap toner is available from ebay.

Dumpster diving (legal in my area). All the coupons I don't use or expire are sent to military bases overseas. They can use expireds for up to 6 months.

My grocery stores still double and triple. Hurry! This won't last. Coupons that are over 50 cents get used at WalMart since they usually have lower prices. I'm not a fan of WalMart but I do like getting stuff really cheap or free.

Coupon policies will get tighter with rising food prices and the TLC show has not been kind to those of us that use coupons in an honest and mindful way. I hope your dear readers understand the urgency of prepping as each passing day brings more bad news. I don't want to sound like an alarmist but get those deals NOW while they are still available!!

Kellene, thanks again for teaching your Coupon Bootcamp along with all the other information you've been giving us regarding preparedness. I just got home from Walmart and began posting my receipt information. Charmin has reduced the size of their Basic toilet paper rolls by 14% and my local Walmart has increased the price. I use an app named PriceBook on my iphone to keep track of my best price points.

People are expecting prices to increase a little but we need to watch the size of the incredible shrinking products. Reminds me of the Hershey bars for a nickle when I was a kid. Now they're half the size and cost a dollar.

Coupons and using them correctly are more important than ever.

I just wanted to correct that the coupon clipping service is NOT illegal even with the do not buy or sell coupon disclaimer. When you buy coupons from the service, you are not paying them for the coupon, you are paying the clippers for their time and energy for collecting,clipping, organizing, and processing of the coupons.

I'm sorry, Jenn, but I'm not buying that one bit. You might as well be saying that a person never sells the drugs, they only charge for the collecting, organizing and processing of them. I've done extensive research on this matter both with the self-appointed "authorities" on the matter as well as the manufacturers themselves and it is with that research that I have come to that conclusion.
Normally I would not allow a comment to be posted when it is nothing but false information, but since I know there are many folks like yourself who either buy or sell the coupons, and try to persuade with the same faulty logic, I'm allowing the comment to post.

Thank you!!! It seems now a

Thank you!!! It seems now a days there is an overrun of people lying, cheating, and flat out stealing and calling it using coupons. There are SO many FaceBook pages now that teach others how to lie, cheat and steal and then they post their photos and brag!

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