How Couponing for Others Can Make a DifferenceCredit: Photo by Hannah Gold
I became intrigued with extreme couponing when I saw The Learning Channel’s program with the same name. I have always been a coupon clipper, and with the rising cost of food and my desire to be a work at home/stay at home mother, I started watching the program to glean any tips that I could use for my own grocery shopping.
What I saw was a train wreck.
For the first two seasons, food hoarders were featured on every episode. Stockpiles of food were everywhere-supplies of personal hygiene items that would expire before they were used was just sick to look at. One man had 1,000 tubes of toothpaste in his home, another woman had over one hundred deodorant sticks.
Men and women gleefully clearing the shelf of 90 bags of croutons, emptying entire bins of aspirin and taking away palates of chips and soda were the norm. When I watched Extreme Couponing with my twins, I would stop the program and talk about what was wrong with what they were doing. It opened a dialog about selfishness, about giving to others (tzedakah in Hebrew) and why were they not performing acts of tikkun olam (repairing the world in Hebrew).
Even though their back stories explained why they hoarded their food (many went hungry as children), it still did not explain to me why they would not share their bounty with those who found themselves in a similar situation. They were not using their couponing talent for buying food for free to help others.
There was a lot of backlash after Extreme Couponing aired. One woman was accused of coupon fraud, and stores who changed their coupon policies for the sake of being featured for free on television got the public’s attention.
During the second season of Extreme Couponing, a gentler side was shown. The people featured still had stockpiles, but the bounty bought for the episode was being donated to a person or charity of their choice.
While that did soften the blow a bit, what about all of the things that were going to rot before could be used?
Something clicked in my head.
Watching the program had given me insight on how to save more money-and I did. But I wanted to take it a step further.
I decided to extreme coupon for charity.
Here is an Example of People Going to the Extreme
My Couponing for Charity Journey
I started employing the strategies I had read about in books, on the web, and even from the Extreme Couponing show. The first thing I did was start using printable coupons, adding even more savings to the ones I clipped out of the circulars each week. I had never done as I thought that the coupon sites would cause harm to my computer.
They did not.
I searched for a coupon matching website and found two that I liked that had my favorite supermarket’s weekly sales. I used two because while most of the sales matched up, they each had certain bargains that only appeared on their blog.
I found coupons on Facebook, product websites, and supermarket sites. I finally found good use for the reams of premium stationery my husband brought home when his office closed. I printed coupons!
After learning the ropes with printable coupons, I learned about coupons from my local supermarket. All I had to do was go to the store’s website, put in my customer number from my card, and then click on the coupons I wanted. They automatically loaded onto my account and came off at the checkout lane. These could be stacked with manufacturer’s coupons for even greater savings.
I also discovered Savingstar, another site that loaded manufacturer’s coupons to my loyalty cards. I could cash out at five dollars and either take the cash or turn it into Amazon gift cards.
Armed with all of my coupons, I set out to the stores.
Couponing TodayCredit: Photo by Hannah Gold
I still extreme coupon today, but not as intensely as I did last year. Because I am working more, I do not go to the stores as often as I used to. I still make the most of my shopping trips by buying extra sale items to donate. There are five different areas of my house where I keep my stockpiles-four are food related and one is for household products. Whenever there is a need for food, I go shopping in my stockpiles and give the items I have bought specifically to donate.
It is a great feeling to be able to help others!
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