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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Extreme couponing in ABQ: Might not be as "extreme"

After spending hours of research, (I'm not exaggerating), I've come to the realization that Albuquerque residents may not be able to benefit from the "extreme" savings that shoppers on the show "Extreme Couponing" get. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, shopper from different states show off their couponing expertise at the cash register. The majority of the shoppers save 80-90% on groceries for there families. Many of the shoppers are able to get a large percentage of their groceries for free. This sounds great but I've encountered several roadblocks to savings.

Most stores do not allow customers to double up on coupons and the majority of the coupons I've clipped from weekly circulars state that only one coupon per item is allowed. I also called the Albuquerque Journal and asked if I could have any surplus circulars. The customer service person stated that I would have to purchase an additional subscription if I wanted additional circulars.

However there is light at the end of the coupon tunnel. Albertsons is allowing double savings on manufacture coupons up to and including 50 cents and triple savings on manufacture coupons up to and including 33 cents coupons through 6/28. Smith's patrons can use their Smiths cards and coupons for additional savings. Co-op shoppers can obtain a membership for $15 per year and benefit from a multitude of savings. The Co-op regularly discounts specific items every week. Patrons are allowed to use manufacture and or store coupons for additional savings.

I also consulted with a friend of mine who's as close to an "extreme couponer" as you're going to get. Julene Sisnernos Ponte is a busy mother of three who's amassed three storage cabinets full of discounted and free, shampoos, lotions, toothbrushes, cereals, pastas, and paper goods. Much of the savings comes from coupons  and manufacturer rebates. Julene's husband also subscribes to a website called Hotcoupons.com where subscribers can print manufacturer coupons and check local store sales.

"My husband and I keep a lookout for the after season sales. You can get 90% off seasonal clothes, paper plates, napkins. No one (in  my family) cares if they're using orange and black plates especially if they cost only 25 cents!", says Julene.

The West Side coupon diva also recommends stocking up on school supplies when they go on sale. While Julene is skeptical of the savings seen on "Extreme Couponing" she does claim to walk out of a grocery store with four or five bags of groceries after only spending $15. 

My recommendations:
  • Organize clipped coupons in an accordion style folder. (you can purchase one at the Dollar Store)
  • Check weekly grocery sales and match coupons with savings.
  • Set a realistic budget for you and your family each week.
  • Make a grocery list of items that you ablsolutely need and stick to it.
  • Avoid or limit processed or pre-made foods.
  • Cut down on your consumption of meat, have one vegetarian day per week.
  • Take a pocket calculator with you on your shopping trips so that you can keep track of what you're spending.
  • If you shop at a Co-op buy more items in bulk, like cereal, soaps, dried soups.
On a personal note, the most cost effective measures that work for me are sticking with my grocery list and cutting down on my family's consumption of meat. Planning meals for the week also helps when shopping for groceries. If you have any additional successful grocery saving tips please feel free to share them on my blog.

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