Extreme Couponing: How Extreme Are You?

TLC’s Extreme Couponing is back tonight.

We get a lot of negative feedback associated with the phrase “Extreme Couponing.” But saving to the extreme (as long as it’s in an ethical way) should be praised! It’s something you should be proud of. So today I want to know this:

Besides couponing, what are other EXTREME ways you save in your life?

Do you barter like Mavis? Negotiate every big ticket item? Keep your heat off until your windows frost over? Re-gift at Christmas?


Tell us what ways you pinch your pennies when you’re not out there rockin’ it with coupons!



Still haven’t watched Extreme Couponing and not sure what we’re talking about? You can catch up on missed episodes for $1.99 on Amazon Demand!

Need help getting started on your journey to Extreme Couponing (done right!).

Our 90-minute coupon class on DVD will teach you step by step the correct and ethical way to implement extreme couponing. Use code EXTREME for a 55% discount at check out.


  • Mollie

    I save on the heating bill by wearing thin, warm layers, warm socks and a knit cap. Then I exercise in the afternoon which warms up my muscles and keeps me toasty warm all evening (I’m wearing a tank top right now!). At night I get under my cozy, warm down blankets and am good until morning. We’ve had freezing temps here at night and the only time I turn on the heat is first thing in the morning during breakfast and my shower.

    I also do little things like open the dish washer before the dry cycle and let all that hot air out into the house. The dishes are so hot that they dry w/in minutes!

    • Susan

      I’m fine with the house chilly, but with a child I really need to keep it at least at 68 degrees. I don’t know how much it really saves by bumping the thermostat up a tad more than I otherwise would.

      I also open the dishwasher, and the oven too, when they are finished.

  • coupon kim

    i wash my clothes in cold water, i use a half cap of det insted of a whole cap it does the job, i cut my fabric sheets in half …i am working on other ways to save

  • maygan

    I trade babysitting when needed. Im a stay at home mom but there are times that i need a date night, or just to go to the dr’s alone! That’s where other stay at home mommy friends are great. Saves a ton on babysitting.
    I also combine as much running around as possible. I was able to cut my gas bill in 1/2 when I told myself to be more aware of how much driving I was doing. Driving a Jeep- that adds up to a lot at the end of the month!
    My husband and I also recently started grooming our dogs ourselves. It might not looks PERFECT when we are done, but it saves big time every 6-8 weeks, and we already had the clippers.
    there are tons of ways to get creative and save. its almost like a game to me now.

    • Tracy

      When we got our new dog from the pound, I made sure it was a short haired dog just to save on dog grooming charges! He never needs clipping. When it’s time for a bath, he goes in the tub and I wash him with inexpensive Hartz shampoo that I get at Walmart (with coupons of course!).

  • Cassandra

    My “crazy” thing I have done a few times is if I get a gift with a receipt, especially from my inlaws who pay full price for everything, I will return the item for store credit. Then rebuy the same thing with my extra % coupons or whatever the store has to offer and then use the left over store credit for some thing else I really need of want! It seems like a super cheap thing, but I am still keeping the gift-just making it go a little further πŸ™‚

  • Heidi

    I utilize public transporation. This has been a huge savings of not only money but wear and tear on the vehicle. I work about 35 miles from my home so the savings adds up quickly! I have learned to be a better cook and make things at home that I would have enjoyed eating out. We shop at Consignment shops or Goodwill. But only after I have saved a considerable amount of money shopping at JC Penneys. I volunteer at some venues that double as my free entertainment (i.e. theatre, concerts, etc). I used to buy expensive hair care products, not anymore… and coupons help cut those costs. We go to movie matinees or use coupons. And of course, the best cost savings and my new addiction… I became a couponer! Nope.. not an extreme couponer, just enough to save my family some money, stock up for a month or so. My coupon fever is contagious because I always have someone excited to tell me about the big savings they are finding.

  • Melissa

    I watch ALL clearence carts and shelves. I am a preschool teacher and I picked up the folders for next years open house for $.05 each, instead of $.25.. plus I picked up a bunch of extras to use in the future. I also picked up TONS of glow sticks and glow bracelets after Halloween to use in Christmas crafts for $.25 instead of $4.99 each.

    I also plan a weekly menu, inwhich the leftover can either become a meal or become an ingredient of the next meal.

    I do a weekly “sweep” of my fridge to make sure I’m not letting any perishables go bad

    I unplug and turn off unused electrical things.

    My mom and I split our trash bill. I recycle everything I can, then I haul my other stuff to her house twice a month and it goes with her trash… saves both of us.

    I shop consignment often and I trade kids clothes with friends.

    My kids and I make as many christmas/baby shower/birthday gifts as possible… such as my mom LOVES watching movies and eating popcorn, for Christmas she gets a gift card for the local movie store and assorted bags of homemade/flavored popcorn. My sister is getting a homemade oak/maple cutting board that my husband is teaching me house to make.

    In stead of renting movies, we often check them out at the local library, which also provides free entertainment now and then. We also go to our local symphony when they do a give a canned good, get in free night.

    If I can’t get a subscription to my favorite magazines w/ a coupon code, I look at 2nd hand and thrift stores for past issues. I’ve gotten them for as low as free up to $.25 each.

  • Sheila F

    I know not everyone can do this, but we installed a wood-burning stove in our house. It has saved us loads of money on our gas bill each month. It does take more work (chopping wood, building fires, etc.), but our gas bill is usually less than $10/month now and I can keep the house a toasty 75 degrees in the winter if I want!

  • Lisa

    After losing my job in March, (and not finding another) I try to think of ways to save money on a consistant basis. I love to yard sale for gifts, so many people get things they just dont want and sell them for pennies on the dollar, still in their original packaging, my family never knows the difference. I also gather like items and group them into gift baskets. I gave my mom a basket of nesting dolls I spent the summer collecting, I probably paid 5 dollars, but would have spent closer to 100 if I had bought them in a shop. We draw names at Christmas time, I have spent the year gathering for my family tho, so whoever I draw, I most likley already have stuff for, remaning items make great bday presents.
    The first thing i do every morning is turn everything off in the house, I don’t turn the heat on until at least November, and wait to turn on any lights until its pretty dark.
    I wait to go anywhere until I have a few places to go, then I make a loop and come home. I sign up for all kinds of free samples (iovefreethings.com)
    Like Melissa, I also buy school supplies on clearance, or seriously stock up on the free and super cheap items b4 school starts, so that I never have to pay full price during the school year if we run out of anything. Twice a year I go to the scholastic book fair (coming in Dec) for great gifts and all of our reading. They have fill a box for $25, print a coupon to get 25 off 100! = free box of books!
    I guess thats about all I can think off, that was fun, im feeling rather proud of myself, lol.

    • Tracy

      I also stockpile for Christmas items. When the Revlon tools were so cheap at Target and we kept getting Catalinas, I decided to make manicure kits for all the women I buy for. I then focused on deals for nail polish. I have enough to make about 15-20 sets!
      I also started stockpiling Old Spice bath sets I found on clearance at Target over the summer. I was able to use coupons and got them for under a dollar each. All the men i buy for are getting one of those.
      I also stockpile school items to make art supply kits for many of the kids for christmas. I put a box of crayons, colored pencils, journals, etc in a sturdy box. They love them! I keep a few on hand for last minute birthday party gifts.

  • ben

    collecting cans and bottles from everywhere I can. I know they are only worth 5 cents, but they add up.

    • D'Anna

      There was a gentleman that used to come around in an old red truck and get the cans out of our trash. One day he rolled up in a brand new red truck…he had saved the can money and was able to pay for his new truck in full so those .05 cans DO add up.

  • ben

    Ever since we bought a new car with a monitor that tells you exactly what your gas mileage is at each exact moment and then averages it since your last fill up, I have started coasting when we go down hill. When I say coasting, I mean not only letting off the gas pedal but actually putting the car in neutral. I love it when the gauge says I am getting 60 miles per gallon. It amazes me how much you can improve your overall gas mileage by really just watching and seeing how your driving habits impact your mileage. Green light no longer means I need to get up to speed in 5 seconds or less.

  • India

    I buy my kids clothes a year in advance. Everything that goes on clearance for the current season I scoop up for next to nothing for the following year. I keep rubbermaid containers in their closets and add to them throughout the year when I find killer clearance deals. I also do the same for myself and my husband.

  • Mama Shannon

    *Make my own laundry detergent.
    *Tell everyone when I’m looking for a product so I could purchase 2nd hand from someone else (kids’ bikes, toys, etc.)
    *Purchase all baby stuff 2nd hand at Good Will Outlet (yes do you know how many baby shoes, you can purchase at $0.99 a pound….yes pound)
    *Give husband and two sons hair cuts ($30 clippers….lots of savings by cutting their hair for over 2 years!)
    *Find organic milk on sale for baby and freeze it!
    *Purchase half pig and quarter cow directly from farm for meat for the year.
    *Don’t get internet to house, found free wifi connection!

  • Courtney

    We grow a garden and glean from others and can alot of produce each year…my hubby hunts and we use the meat…always buy clothes for the family a year in advance on clearance or at consignment stores…cloth diapers and wipes…

  • Valerie

    For those of you that turn off your heat…I found that turning off the heat at the breaker box is easier and for some reason saves a lot more money on the electricity bill. During the colder winter months, you are better off turning your temperature really low about 2 hours before bedtime because warming a whole house in the am takes more energy As you are watching tv or getting ready for bed, you really don’t notice the colder temperature, plus there is extra heat from the oven(dinner) or dishwasher, etc:)

  • Mary S

    1 – When I bought my new (used) car, I made sure to get one with high MPG (35-40 average) and a manual transmission, and use neutral whenever I can.That raises my MPG to about 45 – and with a 100 mile commute round trip, I need all the help I can get! Oh, and driving at 55-60 mph instead of 65 mph really does effect your mileage… I just leave the house 10 minutes earlier, and added another half trip per tank of gas.
    2 – I found some nice t-shirts and tank tops on clearance at the end of summer for my nieces. Then I found some pretty dresses from the Goodwill for $1.29 each; I cut the dresses in half and hemmed them into tops, and then cut the ruffles off the bottoms and sewed onto the other tops to make them into the current style of ruffled tops. Now I have some fancy but inexpensive gifts for my nieces!
    3 – I search yardsales all summer and thrift stores all year long for items I can re-purpose into gifts. I’ve restored picture frames, recovered pillows (throw pillows at Walmart are about $10 each, I’ve found them at yardsales for $1.00 each, either recovered or added decoration to them, and given as gifts. I always wash them in hot water first, just to make sure…), and bought clothes to re-do into something else (I got 10 wool sweaters from a lady for $2.00, washed them, and then made purses out of the felted wool. I sold 7 at my own yard sale for $8.00 each, and gave the other three as gifts!
    4 – watch the free section on Craigslist; I’ve gotten material, furniture, and craft supplies for free, all because people don’t want to deal with trying to sell it or throw it away…..

    • Lisa

      Love the free section on Craigslist, I recently got free couch cusions the manufactor had sent an extra set to her. I recusioned my own cusions with them. Added years of new life!

  • Cynthia

    My “children” are adults now…Youngest was just married a couple of weeks ago! Hey, I put on an awesome wedding and reception for $3800…with 130 guests. Had it catered, photographer, in a chapel, reception was at a really nice fire hall! It was beautiful! I don’t think I’ve spent that much on “superfluous stuff” in ten years…and I’m being serious! This was far from superfluous. My son-in-law came to me and said, “Mama…this was better than anything I ever imagined.” The bride is still beaming…and those who attended are still talking about it…anyway…

    I’ll never live this one down. Years ago (I’ve been frugal all my life) I was frustrated about the cost of paper towels…One day, my son came home, washed his hands, and grabbed a paper towel. He was shocked to see that he only got HALF a paper towel. This was before the days of pick-a-size… I had taken a serrated knife and cut the paper towel tube in half! My feeling was that using a WHOLE paper towel was a waste.

    I used cloth diapers (washed them myself-couldn’t justify the cost of a diaper service), breast fed, and was in a babysitting co-op.Baby food was made from what I was cooking that day…and once all the testing to make sure that foods agreed with the baby, he/she ate what we ate. I shopped thrift stores, couponed (before it was big). I haven’t changed my ways a bit…

    AND I HATE THE SHOW “EXTREME COUPONING.” My motto is…couponing is not a contest, it’s a lifestyle!

    • Susan

      Love this Cynthia! You were ahead of your time when it comes to paper towels. Now that I’m a “pick-a-size” paper towel fan, whenever I use the kids with the big sheets (like at work or something), they seem so big and wasteful.

      Awesome job on the awesome wedding!

  • D'Anna

    *Craig’s List – I found a year old front loader washing machine for $225, it retailed for $650 and still had the manual.

    *FOL book sales during the last hour when books are $1 a bag then trade some at my local book store for credit for books I want to read, list some on E-Bay and donate some to the Senior Center or Juvenile Detention Center.

    *Consignment stores – $60 jeans w/ the tags still on them for $14.99. After X-mas, instead of returning unwanted gifts people will take them in for trade credit so you find some nice stuff. I shopped, and traded, all of my sons clothes & furnishings throughout their baby years. I like to stick to ones in nicer neighborhoods, you get a better quality of items.

    The most EXTREME thing I can think that I do is something I learned from the Tightwad Gazette books in the 90’s: A stick of deodorant will get down to where you can barely use it, take a butter knife and pop that plastic oval thing out VOILA there is nearly a weeks worth more down in the tube. Scrape it out w/ the butter knife, put it in a microwaveable dish, nuke it till it starts to melt, put the oval disk back in the tube, twist it down a bit and pour in the semi melted deodorant. It’s not really saving me $ but I’m making sure I get every last bit of that free deodorant I got w/ a coupon πŸ˜‰

    • Ashley

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for donating books to the juvy! That is such a good thing, those kids that are locked up there really do want to read (what else do they have to do?). Why not allow them to have a good selection to choose from. Maybe they’ll keep reading when they get out.

      I buy 95% of my kids clothes, my clothes, sheets, and books from Goodwill or other thrift stores. Sometimes I find brand new books for between $0.30 – $0.69 cents. I find brand new with tag outfits for $3 or less. I found a $18 with tags attached outfit the other day for $6. There are also multiple kids consignment shops in boise and they are a great option.

      I shop sales and save my money back for sales. When Fred Meyers had their buy one get one free sale on toys I spent $75 and got my entire Christmas paid for for my kids. When old navy gives their cash vouchers out, I go and buy a $20 pair of jeans for $10. I always check Walmart’s clearance rack. I shop at Family Dollar and Big Lots a lot as well. When I find a really good deal on anything, I buy multiple so I don’t have to worry about it the next time I need it.

      Cook from scratch. I’m not always that good about that now, but in the past I have and let me tell you it works. I was working with a food budget of $150 a month to feed two adults and two toddlers. (Plus I had wic, at that time). If we wanted something sweet, I made peanut butter cookies or a pie from scratch. It also cut down on snacking which is also expensive.

      Get netflix instead of cable. A subscription to the only streaming netflix (not movies in the mail) and a subscription to xbox live gold is $20 a month. Cable runs about $45 – $50 and netflix has a lot more movies than they used to.

      Change the oil in your car, keep your tires inflated, and be careful about leaving your car idling. You won’t be able to believe how much better gas mileage you get.

  • sarah

    * Make my own laundry detergent, window cleaner, and hard wood floor cleaner
    * Go to the library for books and movies
    * pay more attention to grocery store ads and become a better couponer πŸ™‚
    * pack our family lunches so we don’t have to buy out and use more tupperware and not ziploc bags

  • Dana

    I love to barter, just like Mavis! I am very fortunate to have a preschool teacher for my daughter that encourages bartering, so I am able to trade for her entire preschool tuition by cleaning the school weekly and doing miscellaneous school projects. I am currently working on painting 3 rooms! I also barter for haircuts, local cheese, and other fun things, by trading my custom, hand painted signs for things I need.

    I also was able to do a tremendous amount of canning and preserving this year. I have so much jam and fruit spreads that i am going to be selling them at an upcoming craft show as well as giving them as christmas gifts, and have all the green beans, canned pears and applesauce, and frozen corn and zucchini to last through the winter.

  • Alisha

    Does anyone here use Freecycle.org groups? My sis-in-law in Utah turned me on to it about 6 years ago, so when I finished college and came to Los Angeles to start my career, I signed up for all the groups in a 20 mile radius so that I could get free things. (I’ve given away plenty of things I didn’t need anymore too). I furnished a whole studio apartment with free furniture (couch, table and chairs, bookshelves, TV, etc.) The Freecycle “haul” I’m most proud of though, since I now have a baby (and another on the way), is how I have used it to get all kinds of free baby things – bathtubs, swings, a front carrier, several bouncers, books, and the coup de grace: I got about 10 kitchen trash bags FULL of baby girl clothes from newborn all the way through 18 months! I didn’t have to buy any clothes for my baby! Such a deal! The lady who was cleaning out all this stuff said she and her mother were both big shoppers, so a bunch of the stuff was brand new! There were even all the holiday outfits and everything!!! I have since passed on a lot of it that my daughter outgrew to others, but am still saving the stuff she wore a lot in case I have another girl in the future.

    So FREECYCLE.ORG – check it out! (Oh, and the “free” section of Craigslist is a good resource too.)

  • Elisabeth

    Since 75% off is my stockup price for products and gifts, I carry that over into almost every area of spending. When I was faced with a kitchen remodel on cabinets, it would have been at least $400 for new cabinet doors. I googled until I got enough ideas to put together my own cabinet doors for under $100 ($96.10). I didn’t wanna just paint them because I don’t like that painted cabinet look. I reined it in for my 75% off mark! And everyone thinks I hired a designer, lol I was the designer.

    I LOVE Freecycle.org, as others have mentioned. It is especially handy for baby and small children’s needs. I furnished all furniture in my house (except my couch) through them for free! Got the couch on sale & with coupon at Ashley’s Furniture.

    I garage sale every weekend. Have a strict limit on what I will pay for certain items. This is where I get the bulk of mine and my kids’ clothes. I get them up to 3 sizes too large & the kiddos just grow into them. They are usually cheaper and nicer than thrift stores πŸ™‚

    At home haircuts. Bought clippers for the kids hair ($30) about 4 years ago and have racked up the savings (on 3 kids) ever since. I googled how to trim and cut layers into my own hair, which has saved tons now too!

    Speaking of googling, anytime you are unsure of how to do something and considering hiring it done, just google it. Somewhere there are instructions and more than likely you will find it easy enough to do yourself! Yah!!

    I live in Florida and the winters are not very brutal but I did make solar heaters. Placed them around the outside perimeter of my home, venting them inside the windows, and I don’t have to pay for heat anymore. Happy dance!

    Bartering is great! Those 50 bottles of shampoo, from coupons, can turn into your new (used) above ground pool. The free cat treats you have taking up a several totes in the garage can turn into a leather-covered massaging recliner! And yes, these are my real-life examples! hehehe

    Look for your kids backpack in Nov. and Dec. for next year. Last year I got the rolling kind of backpacks on clearance & with coupons in December at Bells Outlet for $3.33 each! That is what they are using this year. This past week I got Lands End backpacks for $7.99 to $9.99 each, shipped! They are going into storage for next years use. I saved $80 at Bells Outlet and $140 at Lands End by buying the backpacks off-season!

    • Elisabeth

      Oh, and the Netflix that Ashley mentioned is great! I was paying $60 a month for cable and now pay spend about $14 for Netflix and Xbox Live! My kids & I never looked back

  • Julia

    I am happy to save 50 – 70% per shopping trip though people still stare at the store as though I am EXTREME! I have given this website out to so many people at the store… I feel you should have a referral rewards program πŸ™‚

    I save more money by bartering skills and clearance shopping. I find things on clearance and then resell back at full price on Craigslist or Ebay (there are those that always pay full price or more for things) I have had a crazy bidding war on Ebay over something that I got for $5 and it sold for $45.

    I shop at a local Re Store for household things like replacement doorknobs light fixtures etc… I love Value Village and the Goodwill where I can find name brand clothes for my teen for 90% off. Though you do have to watch it at those stores because sometimes it is not as good of a deal as the regular stores’ clearance racks.

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