Our adventures in extreme couponing came to an ignominious end by the San Jose Mercury News that hosted the seminar back in September. My roommate got a phone call from the newspaper’s sales office that they were rescinding the Sunday-only subscriptions for $10 USD each due to being “unable to handle the volume” of delivering five copies of the paper every week. We would get a refund for $40 USD in two weeks and receive one Sunday paper each week. The funny thing is that no one told the delivery person to stop bringing the extra copies.
I suspect the real reason for curtailing multiple subscriptions came from pressure by the coupon manufacturers. With changed coupon policies at most stores and less generous coupons becoming common, extreme couponing is getting more difficult to put into practice. While filling up a shopping cart with $1,000 USD in groceries and handing over a thick bundle of coupons to pay absolutely nothing at the checkout stand makes for good television, it requires more time and effort than the average consumer is willing to put in.
Besides, extreme couponing didn’t quite work out for us.
My roommate insisted that we can’t use the coupons until a special website tells us which coupons to use at which store that have a good promotion for certain items. I guess the stores in Silicon Valley don’t have any great deals over the last few months. The growing pile of coupons—the few that we can use—remain unused. I never understood why I have to wait for a website to tell me when to use the coupons. The last thing I want to do is stampede with the herd to clear out the store shelves.
Without waiting for the herd to stampede, I took a different approach to extreme couponing that might be called reality couponing.
- Going on a low-carb diet to trim my weight and food costs at the same time. Nothing focuses the mind than looking up the nutritional labels to count the carbs.
- Buying the same items from week to week. Unless you have a baseline of your existing food costs, you won’t know how much money you’re actually saving.
- Some of the best deals aren’t announced in the newspaper or on a website. If a store is overstocked on an item and/or the expiration date will soon expire, the price will be reduced to move the item off the shelves.
I’m now in a better position to use the few available coupons to save money than I was when I first attended the extreme couponing seminar.