How To Start Couponing + Interview with Aimee of Extreme Couponing Mom
I am amazed by couponers. I have never been able to understand just how they do what they do. I recently started doing some research on how I could go about getting my coupon on, but with all the information out there and all the calculations I was doing, I have to admit I was pretty overwhelmed. Who knew that high school math would come in handy one day? So, I enlisted the help of member and fellow blogger Aimee of Extreme Couponing Mom.
Aimee started couponing when she moved to Toronto with her kids and partner and became a stay-at-home mom. On her fixed income, starting to coupon just made sense. In February 2011, she went on her first shopping trip and saved over $300! Pretty impressive, no? I had to know how she did it, so Aimee was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions about the ins and outs of couponing and how even a math challenged person like myself, could get started!
Tell me more about your first couponing experience.
My first couponing experience was a big one; I don’t do anything half way, I jump in head first and give 110%! In February 2011 I went on my first ‘Extreme Coupon Shop’ with my sister Stefanie. We went to Walmart and I managed to get 80% of my items for tax only and saved over $300.00.
This is my first shop. Fridge/Freezer items were not included in the picture as they had been put away. Regular retail value was $423.68 and I saved a total of $308.09 after sales and coupons which left my cost to be $115.59. I think I did pretty well on my first haul! My sister was a tiny bit embarrassed but she has slowly come around, I am no longer the ‘joke’ of the family they are all couponing now!
What suggestions/tips/tricks do you have for a newbie couponer? How can they start?
Most people who want to start couponing will get discouraged because they are looking at what others are saving and when they go out they do not save as much. To compare yourself as a ‘newbie’ to a blogger who has been couponing a long time isn’t going to be productive as they have more knowledge and experience which you will gain with time.
Step 1: Follow a few blogs/websites/forums on couponing. These sites will lessen the time you have to spend on couponing as we post all the newest coupons, samples, deals and weekly sale match ups to help you - we do the leg work for you!
Step 2: Start collecting coupons. Order them, pick them up in-stores, email a few companies of products your family uses. Join some forums where you can trade coupons with other members and join coupon trains- this will help bulk up your coupon stash. Many members offer ‘newbie’ packages where you send either a gift card ($5.00) or a few postage stamps and they will send you $50.00+ in coupons which is another great way to get coupons.
Step 3: Price matching is key in couponing. Who wants to drive to 10 stores each week? As long as you have the flyer for the store you want to price match a sale for and the store you are going to allows price matching this will save you not only time but money as you will not be wasting gas to drive all around town. Walmart is great for price matching - they have no limits, allow you to price match “store brand” at another store for their “store brand” eg: No Name brand products at Loblaws banner stores can be price matched for Great Value brand products at Walmart as long as they sell that product in Great Value brand and you can also price match meat/produce as well.
Tip: Remember though, don't use a coupon just to use it or because it is about to expire! Once you get into couponing you will grow a stockpile and learn to stock up when prices are at their lowest so you can make it through until another great sale comes along. Paring up a great sale with a good coupon will maximize your savings substantially and that is what we all strive for! You just need to learn it is okay to let a coupon expire if there wasn’t a good enough deal for it to be used with and you didn’t ‘need’ the product.
What resources do you use? (i.e. what sites do you use/recommend, flyers or magazines)
For all my weekly sales match ups and deal posts I use the flyers that come to my home or I will look at online flyers from the specific store. I also have followers who email me photos they have take of their flyers to help me get the earliest jump on posting the sales so those can see them as early as possible.
I post all available coupons in my database and on my Canadian coupon tab so when I look for coupons, it's really easy for me. I generally use websaver.ca, save.ca, gocoupons.ca for mail ordered coupons. For printable coupons smartsource.ca as well as many company websites and Facebook pages that offer printable coupons for their products which are all listed on my website. A few magazines I order that tend to always have coupons in them are Chickadee, Canadian Living, What’s Cooking and various free magazines like Melt magazine.
What has been your biggest haul/most savings as of yet?
This is really hard to narrow it down to a certain haul as many of my hauls are HUGE and almost all of them net a savings of 90-100%. I have two that come to mind when sitting here thinking of my hauls over the last year.
The first was my very first shopping haul where I was paid money at the end of my shopping trip and got all my items free. I got 148 items during that trip and was paid just under $19.00 as my balance was in the negative and Walmart paid me the overage on the coupons. They are reimbursed the full value of the coupon so they passed that extra savings onto me (eg Advil is on sale for $2.99 and I have a $4.00 off coupon - Walmart will take the full $4.00 off my bill leaving me with $1.01 overage before taxes).** So not only did my overage cover all my items in that shop including those that had no coupons for it also covered any tax that was applied to my bill and I walked out of the store with 148 items and almost $19.00 in my pocket! That is a good day of shopping.
The proof! Can you believe that?
Another haul would be a more recent one I recently went on a shopping trip for donation items and was able to get 187 items most for donations which at regular retail value would have cost me $775.19 for absolutely nothing after sales, coupons and a few gift cards I won in contests.
Colour me impressed, chicks.
How do you keep organized with all your coupons?
Keeping organized is a constant battle! I am always getting coupons on a daily basis and have a lot of them so I have a few methods.
First when my coupons come in the mail or I print coupons from online they go into a box lid, you could use a small basket or anything really. I normally leave them in the lid until Thursday and then I clip them all. After clipping them they either go into a “trade box”; this is for coupons I know I will not use but that I will trade with others to get coupons I need, or they go into my binder which is filled with coupons for items we use and regularly buy.
In my binder I have multiple sections to organize the coupons further including Food, Health & Beauty and Household items. I place the coupons in their respective area in order of expiry so I can keep track of them and try not to let any go to waste.
I am currently working on a blackberry app for myself and my fans to better keep organized and be notified of coupons we have that will be expiring which should help better the organization of the mass amounts of coupons I have and I am sure others have.What are the differences in couponing in the US and in Canada?
There are a few slight differences between couponing in the US and couponing in Canada. The first would be ‘doubling’; almost no Canadian stores ‘double’ coupons (when a store doubles the amount of the coupon eg: $1.00 off doubles to $2.00 off) aside from the few double days at Pharmasave stores.
Most of the stores here do not have the scanning system the US has where the cashier simply scans each coupon and it is deducted. Canadian store employees have to manually input each coupon discount into their system when cashing out which causes longer cash outs! The US also has far more printable coupons than we have, many company US sites offer printable coupons where their Canadian site of that same company has none for us [which is pretty disappointing].
Let me know chicks, are you a couponer? What's the best deal you've ever scored?
And of course, a special thank you goes out to Aimee of Extreme Couponing Mom for helping me understand the complex world of couponing!
**Editor's Note: It has recently come to our attention that Overages may not be permitted in some stores. We advise you to check the policies of the store and the product manufacturer.
More by Alexandra C.
More on Deals
I just made a huge score a couple of days ago at Target. They had a temp price cut on various variety of cheeses and I purchased $174.00 worth of cheese for $50.00! Now I have enough cheese for the year:) FYI...for those who don't know, you can freeze many types of hard cheeses, so buy lots on sale!
May I ask how do you all know that EMC has scammed? I think she is doing an awesome job with her life and helping out others :)
Just in response to the scamming comments: We don't know what you issues you are referring to. If there is a problem please feel free to contact us privately via contact us and we can look into it further. The purpose of this post is to share couponing tips.
I like this post, quiet informative. however, did not get the overage thing. Is it possible? I don't think so.
@Tara I thought that was her! I can't believe Chick Advisor is supporting a woman who scammed people and repeatedly abuses coupons.
i could agree with that if it happened once or twice, but it is all the time, knowing full well the policy...it has been emailed to her several times and posted on her wall as well many times for her followers. It's sad to see her continue to be plugged, and anytime someone asks her questions about the legality of her fpc practice, they are banned from making any further comments and the threads are deleted. Would she do this if she really had nothing to hide?
@Helisa, thanks for looking into the overages issue. You provided some valuable information. I think it's important to consider a couple of things here. If a store is willing to provide that credit, we can't assume maliciousness on the part of the person with the coupon. Many people may not be aware that this should not be allowed (us included). Ultimately it is up to the stores to enforce the rules with the coupons they accept. While we agree no one should purposely try to get away with something they shouldn't, the store needs to enforce their own rules.
I personally like Mrs. January.com better than extreme Couponing mom
YES, Ecm SCAMMED many people on smartcanucks.ca, just search candymom1 to see what she's done.
Loving this - I wish I knew how to save like this!
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