$600 in groceries for $10? Yes. How? Extreme couponing.
'Extreme Couponing,' a new TLC show, may be a little, well, extreme. But anyone can save big with online coupons.
A new show on the TLC network debuted last week, showing America that it's possible for shoppers to get $600 worth of groceries for less than $10 at checkout.Skip to next paragraph
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"Extreme Couponing" – which airs at 9:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday nights – follows the lives each week of dedicated so-called "couponers" who spend countless hours cutting coupons, seeking deals and strategizing how to hunt the supermarket.
By pairing manufacturer coupons from the Web and Sunday newspaper with items that are on sale at the supermarket, couponers can walk away from the grocery store after paying only mere cents for their items. (In some cases, items coupled with coupons can even be free).
But some people like 27-year-old Joanie Demer — the co-founder of popular coupon tip blog TheKrazyCouponLady.com, who was featured on the show — take couponing so far that they even jump into dumpsters to collect a number of the estimated $57 billion worth of coupons Americans throw away each year.
Although big savings can be had in stores, not everyone has the hours or ambition to go to such extreme lengths. But the good news, according to these extreme coupon enthusiasts, is that anyone with Internet access can trim hundreds of dollars off online purchases if they want to.
Heather Wheeler — also co-founder of TheKrazyCouponLady.com, which has experienced a big jump in traffic since the show aired — said that while you can't hand over a stack of clipped coupons through your computer screen to online retailers, there are still great ways to save.
"Whether you are shopping online or in stores, you should never ever pay full prices for items," said Wheeler, who started couponing about three years ago to cut back on expenses in the middle of the recession. "While you might not be getting products for free or 'money-makers'" – when coupons save more than the price at the store, so shoppers actually walk away with a profit – "there are still big savings online. You just have to work for it a little."
Tips on saving
Free shipping codes and coupons are often available from popular retailers, so online shoppers can easily save money by simply staying at home and not using up gasoline to head to the store. Sites such as RetailMeNot.com offer Web discount codes that include everything from free shipping to 20 percent off an entire order for more than 65,000 stores.
Retailers also send out information about new sales, promotions and coupon codes via e-newsletters. Signing up for these lists can also increase savings.
In addition, merchants often tout savings and discount codes on Facebook and Twitter, so "liking" and "following" these companies will bring shoppers even closer to sales and deals.
Another trendy way to save these days is through daily deal sites, such as Groupon, Living Social, Mamapedia and No More Rack. Not only do they offer 50 percent off deals on a variety of restaurants, apparel and services, most of these sites offer a $5 to $10 credit just for joining the site. They also offer credit incentives for referring friends.
Where and when to shop
The best online deals are often found via mainstream shopping sites, similar to how the best grocery store deals won’t be found at the local corner store but at a national chain location, Wheeler said.