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Extreme Couponing?

Justin and I have been couch-bound for the past couple of days due to some cold-bug going around.  We stumbled upon the show “Extreme Cheapskates” recently and have been fascinated by the lifestyles that these people live.  Concurrently, I found myself watching some TikTok that explained how to take advantage of coupons at Doller General especially on Saturdays.  Since I was curious, I downloaded the Dollar General App. 

After watching several TikTok explaining exactly what I needed to buy and what coupons I needed to digitally “clip” for Saturday 2/10/24, I started making my digital list that the Dollar General app conveniently has as a feature.  I was pumped, because in all the short videos I was watching these happy and excited people were paying less than $10 for $30 or more of products We always seem to be out of laundry soap in our house, so I knew that most of my purchase would be Gain products which had several deals this week. The coupon masters of TikTok also all seemed to be purchasing a Febreze Small Spaces device, Febreze and a Febreze plug in warmer, so I made sure to add this to my list as well.  Swiffer products were also a popular “must have” this week. 

It did not take me very long to scroll through the available discounts at the store for the week and attempt to prepare my list before I got overwhelmed.  Apparently, there is a very popular $5 off $25 promotion every Saturday at Dollar General, so I needed to make sure I had at least $25 worth of items which initially seemed like that may be hard to do.  There was a Gain specific promotion that was $5 off $30, so I needed to make sure I had enough Gain items to purchase.  I had to whip out a paper and pen to do some math to make sure I was spending enough month for the promotions to apply but at the same time not too much money that the act of couponing is lost.  My notes became confusing, and I am more of a hands-on type of learner, so we set out to Dollar General to just “figure it out” in the store.   

On the drive to Dollar General, I made the decision to make Valentines Day cupcakes this weekend, and it would be fun to use strawberry jam for these.  Justin also reminded me that we needed toilet paper.  I quickly checked the app to see if there were any coupons for jam and toilet paper and we were in luck. Neither of these items are big ticket items, so I figured that rather than anticipating on spending $10, I would more than likely be at $15. 

I anxiously walked into Dollar General with a rough shopping list and a goal to spend as little as possible like all of the other pros I had learned from earlier that day.  It started off rough, I fell victim to a few impulse purchases (flavor packets for water and instant coffee) before I found the jam, which was on the shopping list.  After crossing off the first item on my shopping list, I headed to the laundry aisle and started picking out the various Gain laundry products that had coupons associated to them; this was when I really started to feel like I might be an extreme couponer after all.  Then, I made my way to the room sprays section and picked out a Gain scented Febreze, the very popular this week Small Spaces Febreze device in Gain scent and plug in warmer.  While I was adding all these items into my little yellow cart, I realized that I need a scent for my new plug in warmer, so I had to add a Gain (obviously) scent to the cart.  I was questioning if my total for Gain products was enough, but after looking at the sea of green bottles I figured I was bringing enough Gain products into my home. Before this shopping trip, I always considered myself more of an Era type of laundry detergent gal, but if the price is right, I can deal with the green bottles of Gain.  Lastly, I picked up the much-needed toilet paper and headed to the check out. 

I had learned from the coupon master’s that as long as I digitally “clipped” the coupons on the app, all that I needed to do at the checkout is enter my phone number and these would get automatically applied to my order.  If the cashier was baffled by the overwhelming Gain theme of my purchase, she did not say anything.  My total came to over $30; my first thought was that my coupons must not have worked.  I don’t like causing a scene, so I just grabbed my bags and receipt and went out to the car where Justin anxiously was awaiting to hear about my extreme couponing experience.  When I told him my total, I could tell he was not impressed at all. 

Being the nerd that I am, when I got home, I had to open an excel spreadsheet and do some math to see if I saved any money at all.  It turned out that I did save some money, but my shopping list and some of the items that I purchased were what prevented me from having the same outcome as the TikTok professionals.  The toilet paper and the scent for the plug-in warmers were the two big expenses that I had that the professionals did not have on their shopping list.  Also, the jam, flavor packets and instant coffee were unique to my shopping list; despite my impulse buys being small ticket items they all add up.   Overall, I saved $22.90 which was a 42% savings on my total bill which is impressive.

I was most surprised to learn that I spent under a dollar for the popular Small Spaces device, can of Febreze and the plug in warmer.  I also was impressed that I had paid $2.45 for one of the 46 oz bottles of Gain and $3.70 for the 65oz bottle of gain.  I had thought I needed to purchase 2 bottles of the 46 oz Gain to ensure that my Gain purchase was over $30 to receive the $5 off promotion, but later discovered that the second bottle was not necessary.  The second 46oz bottle of Gain was the most expensive item purchased at $3.95, which is not terrible, but considering that the original price was $5.50 this was not an exciting savings.  It was clear to see why my order did not have the same outcome as the other extreme couponers out there. 

The first couponing experience was overwhelming and disappointing initially, but after reviewing my purchase and seeing what I ended up paying for a few of the items I am super proud! Is couponing something that I want to add to my already hectic lifestyle? Absolutely not.  It is surprisingly time consuming and requires some algebra to be successful.  Is this a Saturday activity that we may participate in from time to time? Yes, but I am going to go in with a much more defined shopping list.  Despite not being anywhere close to an “extreme cheapskate”, I am able to make my festive cupcakes and we are stocked up on laundry supplies for a while. 

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