As someone who was raised using coupons in a very minimal manner, I was immensely intrigued by the idea of Extreme Couponing!  After watching several episodes, including the KCL episode, I was convinced this was something I could and needed to do.  It reminded me of playing high school sports: something I could excel at and have a barometer to measure against.

It was after the KCL episode of TLC's Extreme Couponing that I did what any other novice couponer would do… a midnight trip to Walmart to buy my binder (complete with an attached envelope), a package of baseball card holders, and the gumption to succeed!  I promptly came home, printed off my binder inserts, spent the next hour or so organizing my binder with my feeble collection of coupons and set off to change the way that I ran my family’s shopping habits.

Scared, I searched the web looking for deals, diligently watched the KCL website until I found my first "free" deal!  Off to Walgreen's I went, petrified of what might happen. I found my 2 Arrid deodorants, gave the cashier my 3 coupons and waited; she adjusted the coupons down and told me that I did not owe anything! WooHoo!!!  No one chased me out of the store accusing me of shoplifting, Phew!  At this point I was on top of the world, and I was hooked!

Now, a few months into my journey, after relying heavily on the KCL website for guidance I have devised a few tricks of my own!

1. Folding Scissors:  I keep a small pair of small pair of foldable sewing scissors that I picked up from Wal-Mart for $1.97 in a travel sewing kit.  This way, if I ever need to clip a coupon on the run, I have a pair handy!  Plus, the straws for kids drinks are often too tall for the cup – so I trim them down!

2. Spreadsheet:  I created a spreadsheet that lists the local Walgreens and CVS stores by address, phone number, store manager name and a space for satisfactory service. I’ve had such bad experiences at one store that I just won't go there anymore! I keep this in my binder, with my coupon policies, and use it in case I need to check stock of an item while I am out and about.

3. Store Cards:  Most stores give you 2 key cards and 1 wallet card. I have attached each key card to 2 key chains and I leave them in each car. This way I always have my store cards with me (and my husband will actually use them since he doesn't have to keep them in his wallet!).  The wallet cards are kept in a baseball sleeve at the front of my binder, this way if I am out without my car I have my store cards!  This frees up space in my wallet & decreases the weight of my car keys.

4. Prep Work:  When prepping for a trip with multiple transactions I write each of my transactions of a 3×5 card (that I bought at the back to school sales for 5 cents per 100) & paperclip my coupons and rewards that I am using for the transaction to it.  Rather than using envelopes (which is an added expense) I use plastic 3×5 card holder boxes (bought at back to school sales for a penny!)  I have used my fun label maker to designate a box for the stores that I frequently shop at. As soon as I see a deal for that store I place the coupons in that box.  I still shop with my binder, for the unexpected deals though!  This eliminates waste, maintains order, organization and can be modified easily!

5. Extra Bucks/Register Rewards/Catalinas:  I keep my newest (farthest from expiring) catalinas in the car, just in case I need to stop for an unexpected item, or an item that doesn't have a coupon.  It is like a little insurance policy!  It isn't often that I travel without my binder these days, but it happens every now and again and this has saved my bacon!

I hope these little nuggets will help!  They have made me more confident and I always feel prepared to win!

This has been a guest post by Jaime from Buda, TX
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