Extreme Couponing: I’m about to step my game up!

Joanie Deemer makes couponing look good!

I just cannot get enough of TLC’s show Extreme Couponing! It’s a crazy idea, but hey, I am CRAZY sexy frugal after all.

You know what else is crazy? The savings these people are getting! I have to admit that I am more than a little jealous! Really, it just means that I will have to do more with coupons to get the tips, tricks and strategies down. I’m totally up for the challenges.

One thing I won’t be doing is spending 70 hours a week clipping coupons or dumping plans just to go shopping! I’m not letting the stockpile out into other areas of the house that’s not designated for the stockpile. Time and space are also very valuable especially in our house!

Since I’ve been studying each episode, I have noticed a few things already:

*You won’t save 98% percent of your grocery bill….at first!
Keep in mind the people on the show have refined their techniques over time. It didn’t happen overnight. Just because you won’t get those bottles of lotion for free right away doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use coupons. Even if you can get 50% off the retail price, that is fantastic!
*You have to take advantage of available resources and opportunities with no shame!
So you don’t have a store savings card? You didn’t use that coupon that printed while you were at checkout? You didn’t realize you could use the coupon that was inside the box? Skilled savers use everything they possibly can to rake in the savings and it pays off. They sign up for free offers, do short surveys, and call companies to ask if they have any coupons. If you’re hesitant to give your personal email, make one just for coupon deals, like yourcouponsavings@(yourhostnamehere).com
*Healthy eaters are NOT exempt!
So you’re not really interested in eating Yakisoba noodles or canned peas? I don’t blame you, but do you use toilet paper, paper towels, aluminum foil, light bulbs, toothbrushes, razors, tissues, hand sanitizer, and washing detergent? Vegetarians have to brush their teeth too, and if you can get toothbrushes for free with a coupon, why would you turn that down? I personally eat gluten free and sugar free, and I’m always on the lookout for healthy coupons. Guess what? They exist! A good place to find some is Whole Foods. Start there!

I’ve added some more links in the blogroll of some very awesome coupon resources like Hip2save.com and thecouponclippers.com Hip2save does the matchup work for you so you don’t have to look for at the sales to link coupons. Coupon clippers is a coupon clipping service that you may hear mentioned on the EC show. It’s way to get multiple coupons for the items that you want.

Save some money and if you see a lady with five carts full of stuff, you might not want to get behind her!


I’m donating socks!

I studied dance while I lived in Japan, and it was the highlight of my time there. I'm on the front row. To find me, look at the hands!

Between 1997-2000, I was an English teacher in Japan. Those three years were some of the best of my entire life. I have always had a real soft spot in my heart for Japan, because I got so much from the Japanese people. I was hired to teach English, but I was embraced, very well cared for, and learned so many things outside of my English classrooms. Even my family was treated so well when they came to visit me. I remember taking my father to the train station and not being at all worried because I knew someone would help him get to his destination.

Now, it’s my turn to give back!

I certainly wish I could give so much more! When you’re on an extreme budget, you often think that you have no way to give, but you have to think outside the box, just like you do when you are trying to figure out how to eat, drive, clothe and entertain yourself on half a shoe-string budget.

I was very excited to learn about Socks for Japan! My mom always buys bunches and bunches of socks. She gets them at the dollar store. I asked her if she would like to give some for the sock drive, and she was more than happy to contribute!

Of course, there are many other ways to contribute. Carly at Chic Steals has a great list of organizations that are accepting donations. And like she says, if you can’t donate money or items, donate a little time and spread the word! Even a little makes such a difference!

Coupons! I finally get it!

I have never really gotten into clipping coupons in the past, because they are mere trickery. Too many conditions are put on them to save any money by just taking a 2×1 piece of paper into the store with you. “Save $1 on any three items”, “Save 25 cents on …(are you kidding me? 25 measly cents???)”, “Save $2 when you buy 8 rolls or more!”. Let’s be serious. You can save more by buying cheap house brands, no coupon necessary.

Let’s not mention the fact that most coupons are for products and novelty food stuffs that I don’t eat. I wouldn’t try them with a 50 cent coupon either.

Today though, I finally understood how to use these things. You can’t use them by themselves. You have to use them with a store sale to save money. For example, I found a coupon for Bird’s Eye frozen veggies. I miss broccoli, so I thought I would look into this. The coupon says “Save $1 on any three bags, excluding Steamfresh.” Well, at one of my local stores, they were selling Bird’s Eye brand (2 lb bags) of frozen veggies “buy one get one free”! Yee-haw! With my coupon, I racked up! Each bag ended up costing me about 75 cents per pound in the end.

For die hard coupon cutters, this is not new news. They’ve been doing this for years! But for people in my age bracket (18-34), using coupons like this could mean we might be able to get more than a quarter tank of gas and actually eat more than ramen noodles for a week.

You only sacrifice a few hours a week to save a whole lot of money. You do have to leaf through the coupons and the sales circulars to match up the bargains, but for me, I get a very good return on my time investment. And hold on to the coupons that you couldn’t match up this week. Next week is a brand new sale, and you can get the double roll toilet paper you had a coupon for last week!

Washing machine blows!

from familyhandyman.com

After more than 20 years, the washing machine decides to jump too high! Something separated in there and now it leaks all over the floor! Yay! It’s definitely not the end of the world and it’s only water, but it didn’t make for fun times for me, especially since I was already running on lack of sleep AND it was a low hormone day! Nothing got water damaged except for my 40 pound box of cat litter and only the bottom of the box.

Decision is split among the house as to what to do next. I say fix it. It’s lasted this long without any problems whatsoever, so it can’t be anything other than replacement parts we need to invest in, which would cost way less than a brand new machine. The other camp says buy a new one. This one is over 20 years old and the headache of trying to fix it is more than they are willing to deal with.

I don’t think we can really afford a new machine. If the other camp really wants to get a new one, I’m trying to persuade to get a good used one. No need to go the retail route.

Stash Busting!

How silly is this! I was reading a book on making your own skincare products, and it listed various ingredients needed to make certain treatments at home, like guar gum, lecithin, glycerin, aloe vera gel, borax, and beeswax to name a few! I own all of this stuff!

I currently have 10 different kinds of gluten free flours in my refrigerator!

I own egg replacer and powdered egg whites, but still buy real eggs!

I have 14 different colors of sequins.

I’m not even going to discuss the many yards of fabric in my possession. It currently occupies a WHOLE ROOM!

I have several boxes of mini toiletries I’ve collected from various hotels I stayed in when I was a flight attendant.

That’s just the beginning!

So, I’m on a spending freeze and only buying absolute necessities, so that I can put a dent on all this stuff. From the looks of it, it’s gonna be a long time before I have to buy any of this stuff at any store.

I talked them down in a retail store!

The other day, I was at the art supply store looking for droppers. I normally don’t buy those kind of things, as I am an avid recycler and always save different kinds of glass bottles and jars, including ones that have droppers in them. I never know when those kinds of things can be used for something else. And I always find another way to use my recycled items.

I needed a few more droppers than what I had in my stash for a craft project I was doing. I found some, and noticed how stiff the price was for something that is essentially plastic. Then I saw that one of the packages was torn, and some of the contents missing. Since I really wanted the droppers, I deciding to try my luck and see if they would sell it to me for a discount.

I asked the cashier if she would willingly sell the package to me, and she said she would give me a 10% discount. What I did next surprised even me! I told her that 10% wasn’t worth it! I would be willing to buy it at $4 (the retail price was $6/five droppers). The cashier found that 30% off made the price $4.19 plus tax. I agreed, and bought the droppers.

I cannot tell you what kind of rush I got from standing firm in my decision to get the best value for something I wanted. To be honest, I think I could have probably gotten an even better price! Since this was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. I learned a few other things too:

*Stop overlooking imperfect items-Next time, I’ll be more aware of opened packages, dented cans, one or two broken eggs, and missing items. Stores want to move that kind of stuff too.

*Be willing to walk-If she had said that was the best price she could give me, I would have put the item back with no problem. Sometimes you have to pick another time or day.

*Be firm about what you think the item is worth-I couldn’t believe that all she could do at first was 10% off. I might as well have bought the item at full price in that case! I didn’t say anything about it being poor quality or overpriced, but stating how much I was willing to pay was a much better strategy.

*Be nice, but direct-No need to yell, cuss, scream or insult. Much better to be matter-of fact, and non personal.

Still can’t drop “F Bombs” on dating profile!

It really disturbs me that you still can’t say the frugal word on dating sites. But then again, since we JUST started saving money as a nation, nobody has yet learned to have some finesse when approaching the subject. This article gives a few good suggestions on how to handle such a delicate subject without tarnishing your suave image.

Guys ask me about frugal dating alot. They want to know if it’s ok to use a coupon at a restaurant, if they can take a first date to a free concert or if hand picked flowers cut it. Is McDonald’s acceptable? What about the dollar movie?

For me, what it boils down to is HOW WELL you plan the date, not how much money you spent on it. I don’t really need or want to know how much or how little the date cost you. It used to be that a guy would spent A LOT of money on a date and made it known so that he can get something back at the end of the night. That is just as crass and classless as declaring upfront that you don’t plan on spending anymore than $5 on a girl. Neither one of those approaches are a good idea, especially if you want to see her again.

How well you plan is determined by how well you listen and pay attention. If she says that she does frequent McDonalds, then eating there shouldn’t be a problem. If she follows a strict diet, Mickey D’s is a “NO”. Does she like horror movies, Comedies? Love stories? Make sure the dollar movie you’re going to see is something that is of interest to her or both of you.

Keep the coupons to yourself. Pass them quietly to the waiter or stick the two-for-one under the 20 dollar bill at the box office. Keep the focus on her and the possible connection.

You cannot be cheap AND lazy! Lack of money does not mean you stay at home flipping through TV channels and eating canned soup. If you are low on funds, then that means that you need to be high on creativity! If you don’t plan on spending but so much on a date, then you better be exercising your creative muscles! You should be doing that anyway if you are a true cheapskate!

Just create the best atmosphere for deepening the connection. The amount of money spent is secondary.