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Extreme Couponing in the UK

From Series:
Pile of Coupons

Extreme sports, extreme ironing, extreme… couponing?

You can’t read an article on money saving these days without seeing the word ‘couponing’ but what exactly is it and how does it become ‘extreme’?

What is extreme couponing?

As you can probably imagine, the phrase started in America :) Most of us will use coupons if we have them and we need the item on offer. Extreme couponing fans go a little bit further and buy as much as they can with the coupons they have, whether they need it or not. If they can combine a coupon / voucher with an offer (say, buy one get one free) even better.

Fans of extreme couponing will save coupons religiously, watching out for the best time to use them, and then go on an almighty shopping spree, buying as much shampoo / tinned food / toiletries / whatever is on offer as they can afford, stockpiling it for a rainy day. In some cases, using the right coupons and the right offers, they can acquire items for free!

They will also brand hop and use different shops to get the best deal, as well as spend time going through every offer leaflet and insert that they can get their hands on.

And then there’s the internet…

The internet has given a whole new lease of life to couponing, with sites dedicated to telling you about the latest offers, where is best to get something the cheapest, and the offers you just can’t miss.

It sounds time consuming

Well, to be honest, it can be. BUT, with a lot of the work taken out of it by the aforementioned websites (see the end of this blog for a list of useful sites) and a little organisation, it doesn’t have to take up as much time as you would imagine, and the savings you make can be quite impressive.

Any tips on extreme couponing?

We’ve pulled a few tips from different sites that may help you:

  1. Don’t buy something just because it’s on offer and you have a coupon for it – if you don’t eat corned beef then there’s no point buying it just because it works out at 20p a can, right?
  2. Shop around – you may be a dedicated Waitrose shopper, but by shopping around you can save a lot of money. By shopping wisely you can find the best offers to combine with the coupons and make the time spent looking and travelling well worthwhile.
  3. Store your coupons in date of expiry order – imagine how angry you’ll be if you get to the checkout with your trolley of goods, hand over your coupons and they’ve expired! A simple folder will allow you to store them in order.
  4. Give up your brand loyalty – of course we’re not saying only buy own brand coffee if your favourite doesn’t have a coupon, but if you can be a little flexible on brands, then the savings is worth it.
  5. Be prepared to wait – Extreme couponers will hold on to their vouchers until they can be combined with another offer; buy one get one free, buy one get one half price, 50% off, etc. That way they get the best bang for their buck.
  6. Be focused – The reason that shops and supermarkets have offers on certain goods is to draw you into buying other goods that are full price. Don’t be suckered! You’re there to use your coupons to best effect, not to spend the savings you make on other items (unless that’s what you want to do of course!)

OK, I’m convinced – where do I get the coupons?

There are a multitude of places to find coupons:

  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • flyers from supermarkets
  • online coupon sites
  • online forums
  • coupon booklets in supermarkets
  • eBay – yes, eBay; coupons change hands on there all the time – THAT’S how extreme this is!

Can you really get things for free?

If you use the right combination of coupons and offers, yes. UK Extreme Couponer Judith Wenban gives an example of how it works in an article in The Telegraph:

“Recently, there was an offer on bottles of flavoured water. Each one carried a code that you could text to win a money-off voucher for another bottle. So I bought one bottle, which are something silly like £1.20 each, and kept sending off the codes for the voucher. We ended up with about 60 of these bottles.”

But here comes the ingenious and, some would say, morally dubious bit. “A lot of supermarkets had an offer on the water at the time,” says Judith, “so they were two for £2. So – and it´s a bit, confusing, this – if you got two bottles, it would normally come to £2.40. At the till, I´d give them two freebie vouchers, and they take off the individual price of each bottle, two lots of £1.20, which basically meant the supermarket was giving me 40p for the drinks. I do that as much as I can.”

Extreme Couponing Websites of Interest

We’ve compiled a a link package on bit.ly, packed with a load of useful links related to Extreme Couponing. We’ll update the list as and when we find more useful links.

If you’re interested, give it a go – if you’re doing it already, get in touch and let us know your experiences.

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About the author:

Bonnie Webdale is a resident writer for the Fix Your Finances blog at Guarantor Loans Company. Her main focus in on money saving topics and she has an insatiable desire to be frugal where ever she can.

You can post questions and follow the Fix Your Finances writers on Twitter or find out more about the team.

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