When California resident Joanie Demer’s friends told her about a website that taught consumers how to dramatically lower their grocery tab by clipping coupons, she thought it was a scam.
“I was standoffish for months,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘these sites can’t be real. They’re just trying to con people out of money.’”
Still, Demer went along with the group and brought the coupons to her grocery store. After this foray into extreme couponing net her $700 worth of groceries for only $100, she was hooked.
Three years later, Demer is now the Krazy Coupon Lady. Her site trumps many of the ones she was initially dubious of, and today, she’s one of four bargain-hunters being featured on a TLC special called Extreme Couponing.
The special, which airs 8 p.m. on Wednesday, shows just how far how these extreme couponers will go to beat the system. Needless to say, it takes more than just perusing the weekly circular. On the show, participants dumpster-dive, chart weekly store circulars, profile cashiers and stock up on as many products possible.
Demer herself buys $638.64 worth of groceries (including 40 boxes of pasta and 20 liters of soda) for—hold your breath—$2.64. Of course, this isn’t the first time she’s saved big.
“One time, I was shopping for Halloween candy and I realized I had forgotten my wallet at home,” Demer says. Rather than abandon her half-full shopping cart, Dewer managed to pay using a circular’s coupons, $2 she found between car seats and 8 cents from the cashier. “I paid her back later,” Dewer says assuringly.
Make your trips to the grocery store just as fruitful with these tips Dewer shared with MainStreet.
Don’t use a coupon because you have one. Dewer’s rule of thumb is not use one unless she can pair it with a sale. Coupons that simply advertise a lower price may be little more than a gimmick. “You’ll see toothpaste advertised for 25 cents, but if you look, you’ll find that all of them are that price,” she says while adding you might be able to get the same product for free. The real way to save: Stack coupons on top of each other.
Buy in bulk. Take advantage of a retailer’s best price, or a buy one, get two free coupon when it is available. To maximize your savings, Dewer suggests stocking up on three to six months’ worth of a particular item, since that’s about how much time elapses between promotions. “In eight to 12 weeks, stores will hold a similar sale at the same price point,” she says.
Grocery shop at the drugstore. Chains like Rite-Aid, CVS and Duane Reade offer some of the most stackable savings. Dewer actually scored the Halloween candy mentioned earlier at a local Rite-Aid. Another Rite-Aid trip net Dewer $60 after she sent in rebates on the $100 worth of paper towels she’d purchased. “People think ‘who shops at drug stores for groceries or laundry detergent,’ but they have some of the best opportunities,” she says. “You can be smart and actually get money back.”
Use your resources. Dewer dumpster-dives for coupons, but you don’t have to. “There are a plethora of websites that do the legwork for you,” she says.
Check out MainStreet’s roundup of the best sites for coupon lovers from earlier this year. TheKrazyCouponLady.com made the list!