The following excerpt comes from the self-published ebook, The Extreme Couponer’s Guide to Life by Mary Robucks. Mrs. Robucks, who regularly saves up to 85 percent on her grocery bill, sent the excerpt to The Gabbler, to be published two weeks before Christmas Eve, in exchange for several coupon inserts.
Many of my fellow extreme couponers would say that with only two weeks left until Christmas Eve, anyone thinking of starting their holiday shopping and still expecting to make off with discounts upwards of 90 percent is crazy. But not me. I’m just more extreme, I guess, because I think you, that’s right YOU, can follow a few simple steps to buy the Christmas presents of your loved one’s dreams at deep, deep discounts.
I mean, sure, ideally, you would all have nice, full stockpiles. Your garages would be overflowing with paper towels and shampoo and you would have forced your lazy 18 year old out of the house so that you can fill what used to be his bedroom with cans of spaghetti sauce.
See, with a stockpile, Christmas shopping is really just a simple matter of reflecting on your loved ones’ flaws and picking out the appropriate gift. Have a sister-in-law with the world’s dirtiest kitchen? Some paper towels and 409 from the garage should do the trick! What about that cousin with terrible halitosis? Right on down to the toothpaste aisle in your basement! Or how about your mother’s pathetic attempt at Christmas dinner? Time to hit up the pre-cooked meals in your deep freezer!
But I get it, okay? Not everyone has been extreme couponing for the past ten years, long before it was a fad. Not everyone has twenty subscriptions to all the local papers with in a 50 mile radius, just for the Sunday coupon inserts. But like, I said, I’m extreme. I can work with anyone, even people who live in full-priced ignorance. So here we go.
Step 1: Get your hands on as many coupon inserts as you can. I cannot overemphasize how important this is. At this point, your neighbor’s recycling is probably your best bet, since all the Sunday papers came yesterday and there’s only two more Sundays between today and Christmas Eve. So quietly wait until your foolish neighbors head out to the store (without their coupons, most likely) and then sneak into their most likely unlocked garages and take as many inserts as you can get your extreme little hands on. I have a “friend” who gets up to 20 extra coupon inserts this way, every week. And remember, it’s not stealing if they were going to recycle them anyway.
Step 2: Cross reference all the coupons in the insert with the deals at all supermarkets within a 50 mile radius of your home. 50 miles might seem like a long way to drive for free toilet paper, but only to people who are stupid enough to spend money on toilet paper when the universe basically gives it out for free. Luckily for you, the time you spend driving you’ll make up by being able to quickly cross reference coupon deals using the internet. Just Google your store name and “coupon database” and you should be able to quickly organize any in store deals with the coupons from your inserts.
Step 3: Calculate the best deals you could get by applying the coupons with in store deals. This is the key to all extreme couponing. So, for example, look for any buy one get one free deals and see if you have any manufacturer’s coupons from your inserts to apply with this deal. If you do, you’re most likely going to buy it. Because you can, for pennies on the dollar.
Step 4: Make a list of any items that you can buy for 75 percent off or more. You will be buying all of these items. Clip as many coupons as you can for these, using every single one of the inserts you borrowed from your unsuspecting neighbors. And remember, if you have 40 coupons for cans of soup, you will buying at least 40 cans of soup. No holding back.
Step 5: Make a trip to Kinkos to copy your coupons. You know, most extreme couponers refuse to make several copies of manufacturers coupons because they claim that the stores will only accept originals. Which is true. Unless you copy your coupons onto glossy magazine paper at a Kinkos so they look just like the original insert! The only problem with this is that all that fancy shmancy copying can start to add up and really eat into your savings. So that’s why I always recommend that you younger, more attractive extreme couponers wear a nice push up bra and seem really impressed by the young, virginal man making a single copy for you. He’ll be so impressed by your boobs that he won’t even notice that you’ve swiped some glossy paper, figured out his employee pin, and are headed over to the self-serve copy machine in the corner. If you’re not attractive enough to pull this off yourself, feel free to use a budding young niece or daughter!
Step 6: Go shopping! This is the fun part! Now you get to drive yourself to all the grocery stores in the area and stick it to em. Most importantly, you want to get as much of each item as you can. If that means that no one in your area will be able to by shampoo for a few weeks, that’s their problem. Another tip: if you’re short of coupons, look for any friendly old people in the store. Most old people are lonely and a good conversation with a stranger in a supermarket or department store is probably all the social interaction they’ll have for the week, if not the whole month, so they’re especially prone to your charms They also have a tendency to walk around with their coupons out in their carts so that they won’t forget what they’re buying. So casually ask to see a picture of their grandchildren and while their searching through their wallets, just swipe whatever coupons are in their carts. They probably won’t even realize and you can get some great deals this way! And always remember: you are the customer and you have an absolute right to play the system to get as many items as possible for basically free. Do not put up with any, pardon my French, but any bullshit from zit-faced cashiers looking to put coupon limits on your shopping freedom.
Step 7: Take home your winnings and decide what to give your lucky family and friends for Christmas! Now’s the time to get really creative. Sure, you now have a massive stockpile of groceries that you got for upwards of 75% off, but it’s the season for giving! So set aside at least 25 percent of what you’ve purchased to use as gifts. Maybe set aside some of those 100 calorie packs for your fat sister? And that Bean-O would be great for your neighbor with that flatulence problem! Be creative. And if you really get stuck: toilet paper. EVERYONE needs toilet paper, believe me.
If you follow these simple steps, you too can get everyone you care about thoughtful and cheap presents for this Christmas season. And you can do it all in the remaining two weeks before the holiday.
Some quick, additional tips:
-If you go to a store that has rules about coupon limits, pack a wig and a scarf in your car! That way you can go to drop off your first haul, put on the wig and the scarf and — blammy! — you’re Rita Shopsumoore, a completely different lady at the store using coupons that she found in a completely different Sunday insert!
-If you’re really feeling pressed for coupon use, feel free to forge some on Microsoft Publisher. The key is to scan the bar code of a coupon of an equivalent amount into the fake coupon and distract the cashier as he or she rings up that coupon, so no one notices that your Dove body wash is ringing up as discounted even though the register marks it as a Nabisco coupon!
So Merry Christmas. May your holiday be warm, bright and happy. And may your couponing always be extreme.