Diary of a Couponing Newbie: Extreme is a Relative Term

by Marcy on July 20, 2011 · 5 comments

The following is a guest post written by Devin Ventre for Stretching a Buck Blog, chronicling her journey into the world of couponing. This post is part 5 in the series “Diary of a Couponing Newbie“. Learn more about “Extreme Couponing the Smart Way” in the All About Couponing Series.

**Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series.**

I have to laugh when I look back at my early “articles,” one of which I titled, “Extreme Couponing,” or something like that. (I was referring to the fact that I actually bought a newspaper and cut out some coupons.) I recently watched TLC’s Extreme Couponing, a show on TLC about people who get 2,000 coupon inserts a week and spend $3 at the grocery store for $1400 worth of groceries. Yeah… this really isn’t what I was doing at all. I won’t talk about how actual extreme couponing seems a little crazy to me, and might just be organized hoarding… I now – you know, now that I’m a veteran couponer – understand the temptation to keep cutting coupons for body wash and seeking out sales for it, even though I have 10 bottles under the sink. (You know what? That’s probably enough.) I have had to say to myself, “You HAVE TO stop shopping for something if you have 20 boxes/bottles/bags of it already.” Even if it’s laundry detergent that never goes bad and that you always need. Just. STOP.

I also have to marvel at how my modest start has led me to where I am now, in which every weekend has me swinging by the general store not far from my house where I am kindly handed coupon inserts out of papers “they don’t think they’ll sell anyway,” by a man who I think is the owner. My small coupon organizer has given way to a coupon bin, and soon to be a binder. (I keep seeing people at the store with binders full of coupons. I always stop to chat with them, because, first of all – anyone who takes a binder to the store with them is awesome, and secondly, they know where to find everything.) And my $1,100 grocery budget has shrunk to a mere $700. I now have a cleaning lady. And $230 extra dollars. Yeah, I’d say it’s worth it.

I – former Coupon Newbie and now self-proclaimed Coupon Veteran… of about 4 months – have been asked for some tips on how to get started in couponing. Well, ok. (You REAL Coupon Veterans will probably have a good laugh.)

Step 1: Get some Sunday papers. Subscribe to them, buy them on Sunday at the store, or just show up at the general store every Sunday, kindly ask the crew of old men standing around smoking cigars in front of the newspapers to step aside, bat your eyelashes and get coupon inserts for free – WHATEVER. (On the TLC show, some folks actually dumpster dive for them. Hey, if that works for you…)

Step 2: Subscribe to the Grocery Game or some other site (note from Marcy: I like blogs b/c they are FREE! ;-)) that tells you about the advertised and UNadvertised sales at the store where you are going to shop. Follow their startup video that tells you what to do.

Step 3: Figure out what you can buy. Best case scenario is that it’s on sale AND you have a coupon. Like toothpaste. I have decided (you know, now that I’m an expert) that anyone who actually pays money for toothpaste is a sucker.

Step 4: Get really, really frustrated because this whole coupon thing is stupid and nobody with any sense would ever do it anyway. Vent to your husband who doesn’t really care. He already has a cleaning lady.

Step 5: Have it all gel in your head about how this whole thing works and start saving hundreds of dollars a month.

Step 6: Hire a cleaning lady and drink margaritas while you watch her clean your house.

It’s that simple, really. And in 6 months after you’ve passed through just about every emotion there is, you’ll be where I am, thinking you’re an expert and offering others advice.


Devin Ventre is a homeschooling mother of two living in northern Virginia who wanted a cleaning lady. She couldn’t afford one, and decided to save some money using coupons. Now she has her house cleaned twice a month. This is her story.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mommy2boys July 20, 2011 at 5:32 PM

LOVE, LOVE, tip #6. LOL. Good article though. i’m a coupon newbie- just been doing it about 2.5 months and LOVE it! Really hoping I can cut our grocery bills and get a cleaning lady myself :)

2 Tanya S. July 20, 2011 at 11:09 PM

Love it, love it, love it. I’ve only been couponing for about 2 months after watching my one and only episode of extreme couponing. But let me ask you, do you think it’s “time consuming?” I average about an hour a day. People tell me all the time how they would love to but find it too time consuming.

3 LJI July 27, 2011 at 5:39 PM

I am a grandma and into couponing since April. Boy, do I wish I could have done this when my 4 kids were at home. It can be time consuming if you let it, there’s always one more site to check out, etc. I hope all Moms out there give couponing a try, it really does pay off. And about that cleaning lady ……..

4 Devin July 28, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Thanks for the comments, ladies! I don’t find it to be too time-consuming. I collect coupons from the paper, and don’t really deal with them until it’s time to shop. I’m sure there are much more hardcore people out there than myself who leave no coupon site unexplored, but I’m not there yet! :)

5 Adrienne August 11, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Been to this site several times and this is the first time I have read these!! I have giggled out loud!!! I am in my second month and total agree with everything you have stated! You rock!! :)

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