I have always been a coupon shopper. I’ve had a little red coupon pouch for about 25 years that helps me keep track of what I have and it helps me categorize them into little sections. I clip coupons out of the Sunday paper inserts and also from the Festival Foods ad. I rarely buy an item I don’t need just because I have a coupon and I always look to see if there is a similar store brand that would cost less than the product offered on the coupon. With the popularity of Extreme Couponing, I have found out that I am really out of touch and old fashioned with my little coupon pouch so I decided to investigate to see if I could save more money on groceries. One caveat- I refuse to run all over town to pick up an item or two at each store just to save a few cents. I work at Festival and do all of my grocery shopping here as it is the best store in town! Besides, I work full-time and with the cost of gas I just don’t feel it is worth it for me to be chasing all over the city. I also found out that being an extreme couponer takes a lot of time. Collecting from just the Sunday paper is just not good enough! I need to subscribe to several of the thousands of sites and facebook pages that are dedicated to coupons so I can find the best deals as well as buy and trade with other couponers. I will also need a binder and a big plastic bin which are the tools of the trade. There is a whole coupon community out there that I have found very fascinating. I also figured out that leaving a store with 3 full shopping carts and only paying $2 for it is pretty rare. It makes for good TV, but it is “extreme” and not the norm. There are lots of coupon newbies who are hitting the store after watching the show and are very disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way they expected. There are plenty of websites and books to help you with this but I’m happy if I can save 20% of my bill with coupons. Unfortunately, the popularity of coupons has also led to an increase in coupon fraud so many stores, including Festival, have had to crack down, especially on internet coupons. Manufacturers are also changing to a new barcode called the GS1 Databar. This code can hold a lot more information including the expiration date so cashiers do not have to be responsible for checking it. This will make it almost impossible to sneak an expired coupon through. Another big change is that you will no longer be able to use the “family” code as coupons will be item specific. For example, with the old code, you could use a coupon for $1 off General Mills Fiber One cereal on any General Mills item and it would work. The new scanners will prevent this from happening as it will be very item specific, complete with flavor and size. This will help prevent intentional and unintentional coupon fraud by ensuring that the correct products are being purchased. Well, I have to confess that I quit before I really got started. Just the amount of studying it takes to be extreme was enough to confuse me and I don’t know that I am organized enough to store hundreds of boxes of toothpaste and even more bottles of juice and bags of pasta. I’m afraid I’ll end up on the TV show “Hoarders” buried under a pile of cereal boxes! I guess I’ll stick with my little red pouch and leave the extreme behavior to the professionals!
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