Couponing: Getting Extreme


It started when I was a kid. I would spend hours each summer afternoon watching "A Wedding Story" and "A Baby Story." Then came "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" and "Little People Big World." Nowadays, of course, I can't get enough of my Friday fix: "Say Yes to the Dress."

It is clear, that for 20 years now, I have been harboring a grand fondness for the TLC television network.

Lately on TLC, I have been watching "Extreme Couponing" in awe. The people on this show have acquired the skills necessary to skip out of grocery stores around the world in acts of "legal thievery." They spend their whole day planning out their use of coupons to save money on food. They bring binders full of coupons to the store to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.  However, with every transaction carefully planned with a coupon, the characters on the show leave the store paying a token amount for $1,000 worth of food. By a token amount, I mean that they pay about five bucks! 

That does not even take into account the amount of coupons they receive for spending all of that money. In the end, the grocery store is paying them to shop.

So if all of these extremists can get paid to shop, then as college students, why can't we? 

There's absolutely no shame in using coupons, and we, as college students should get on the bandwagon. We don't need to be extreme couponers, but the occasional 50 cents off never hurt anyone. 

So where do we find coupons? Newspapers and pesky junk mail are chock full of coupons.  Many of us don't receive state or national newspapers at DePauw, but perhaps it is time we subscribe. In reality, we should all probably read a newspaper every day, but especially if it can save us money. With the newspaper comes the junk mail and coupon advertising, so start scrounging and begin clipping!

Where else can we get coupons? Everyone has a favorite magazine. Everyone's mom receives a subscription to a woman's magazine like Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day. Magazines are a great source for coupons, especially "Mom Magazines." So next time you're at home, scrounge through a couple issues of Good Housekeeping, and watch your Kroger bill shrink and shrivel. 

Look for coupons in the store. If you check the back of your receipt, you probably will receive a coupon for an item you just bought. In the future, this assures that you are saving money on the things you actually buy, not the stuff that you would never want. There are also coupons directly on food items, so make sure you peel them off before you buy. 

Also, don't forget about online coupons. Check the manufacturer's website before you buy a certain item to see if you can get an even bigger discount. 

To make this all a bit more doable, create an easy organizational system for the coupons you collect. Most of the extreme couponers have a binder with thousands of types of coupons for each item they plan to buy. But we're not that hard core…yet.  I like to put my coupons in a monogrammed chest I have in my room. That way, when I know I need a new box of Kleenex, I can find the corresponding coupon with ease.  Just make sure you don't scatter your coupons in too many places. There's seriously nothing more dramatic than a frazzled TLC customer who can't find her coupons! 

Coupons aren't just for extreme moms who want to make a deal. It's high time that college students get extreme as well.

— Hendrickson is a sophomore from Indianapolis, majoring in English writing and communications.