Monday Mondays: Extreme Couponing to Prepare for Emergencies

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

I caught a few episodes of Extreme Couponing on TLC and have to admit I am fascinated.   Although there has been some criticism of some of the featured measures that go the “extreme,”  this could be a way to save money or to start an emergency stockpile.   If done in moderation, and never to the point of obsession, I can see how using coupons, combining deals and taking advantage of store sales could really help.   I do not advocate  dishonest measures, missing out on important family events or rude treatment of cashiers as occasionally shown on the show.   We all know reality shows are built around various cut scenes so one never knows the full extent of the truth, and some of these over-the-top antics are done for shock value or ratings.

How to get started

If you are doing this to start your emergency food stockpile, getting started involves a few extra steps from a prepper’s perspective.

  1. Get organized.  Designate a space in your home where you will be storing your emergency supplies.  If you need to get rid of stuff to make room, now is the time to do it.
  2. Make a list of items you use daily.  You do not need to buy things no one in your household wants or uses, unless you a buying specifically to donate it.
  3. Set up an email address just for coupons and store sign-ups.
  4. Decide ahead of time how much privacy you are willing to give up for deals.  Many store savings site require a mobile phone so you can download an app such as Retail Me Not.
  5. Set aside time that you will devote to this new hobby.
  6. Start small and don’t go overboard all at once, such as spending money upfront.  I know someone who jumped right in, bought a new laser printer, a bunch of supplies such as binders, boxes of plastic sheet protectors, highlighters etc.  After a month, she decided she did not like it and all those supplies were wasted.
  7. Don’t forget discount sources you may already have access to, such as AAA, AARP or other similar organization, employee discounts at your job, credit card cash back offers, bank and credit unions.

Basic Emergency Needs

Focus your couponing efforts on these areas to  build your emergency stockpile.  If you are just getting started, here are a few ideas of items you might find coupons for:

Water:  bottled water, juices – canned or bottled, energy drinks, powdered drink mixes etc

Food:  canned fruits and vegetables, canned fish, canned meats, soups, dried or dehydrated food, boxed meals, just add water meals and other easy to prepare meals

Lighting/cooking:  Batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, charcoal briquettes

First aid:  pain relievers, adhesive bandages, allergy medicines, anti-diarrhea, eye drops,

Hygiene:  toilet paper, feminine products, soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, bleach, gloves, trash bags

Couponing Tips

I found some good ideas from these websites:

Here’s How to Start Extreme Couponing Without Getting Overwhelmed

How to Start Couponing for Beginners:  2017 Guide 

35 Extreme Couponing Tips


All in all I think if it helps people get in the habit of stockpiling, whether to save money,  prepare for emergencies, donate to charity of all of the above, if kept within reason, then I see nothing wrong with it.

© Apartment Prepper 2017


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  1. I’d love to do extreme couponing. First to stockpile supplies, and then to donate the rest to charity. I’ve also watched many of the episodes of that show, but all I’ve seen so far are people who spend countless tens of hours weekly collecting and collating coupons. Although the net cost of goods is slightly higher, extreme couponing can be done in much less time if one just uses a coupon clipping service, which can be found on the net. How’s that work? First, get the sunday flyers and see what’s on sale for the week. Then check with the coupon clipper services to see what applicable coupons are available. Then order as many of each coupon as you want, and they usually charge pennies on the dollar for them. Get the coupons later in the week, and then go Extreme Couponing! That’s it. Simple, easy, and a LOT less time consuming, which is offset by the cost of the voupons.

  2. I’ve done “extreme couponing” (the show is ridiculous and nothing like real couponing) for the last 3 years and grown my stockpile twice with it, both food and toiletries for next to nothing. With inflation the way it, its the only way to shop.

    Unfortunately for you, thanks to EC kroger changed it’s coupon policy for the Houston area and no there are no stores that double coupon in that region. You can get into the coupon game to get toiletries. Check out for an idea of the freebies you can get that way.

    Example of use…. i get a lot of trial size products for free. my favorites are the one use pouches of tide detergent. I can pack them in a suitcase when traveling or stash one in a BOB. PERFECT!

  3. It really is amazing how much stuff you can get on the cheap or even free with the right coupon/sale combinations. I’m using it stock up on toiletries and even OTC medicines and such, as well as nonperishable foods. Yes, I think some of the people on that show are a little addicted to what they do. No one needs a whole shelf of toothpaste; how could they possibly use it all before it goes out of date? But couponing is definitely a resource that can and should be utilized within bounds, for any (or all) of the reasons you listed in your last paragraph.

  4. I use coupons but am not extreme about it. I probably save $10 to $15 most weeks with coupons on average. But I figure, hey, it means I can buy another $10 of canned goods to add to my preps or whatever. Every bit helps, right?

  5. There is something I noticed lately in regards to coupons… it may be cyclical, but I noticed that this round of Sunday papers didn’t have nearly as many food coupons in it as past issues have. Most of the grocery stores nowadays have shifted from coupons to posting “3 day” and “4 day” specials in their ads. One of them had their coupons with extremely short expiration dates as well 🙁

    OTOH, manufacturer coupons (and the inserts that contained them) are still pretty plentiful.

  6. you are right, there were less food coupons this go round. but that’s not uncommon in the summer. most people drastically change their eating/cooking styles in the summer. many more grill cooked meats and salads eaten and much less boxed, heavy foods.

    summer is the time to stock up on condiments… mustard, ketchup, etc.. and paper products… paper plates, napkins, etc..

  7. An often overlooked prepping resource is also one of my favorite prepping supply stores… Harbor Freight Tools. They sell inexpensive items of medium quality. They have good product warranties that they actually stand by & also sell extended warranties.

    One thing to note is that they always have a 20-25% off coupon good for 1 item & they always have coupons for free items. Always. You can only get 1 free item per purchase but you can bypass that restriction by splitting up your purchases to two or three trips on the same day. They always have a coupon for a free 9 LED mini flashlight. It takes 3 AAA batteries. I get one every time I shop there & I now have one in every room in the house. I love shopping at that store. They have many types of tools: automotive tools, woodworking tools, gardening tools, electrical tools & gadgets, kitchen tools & gadgets, etc.

    1. Hi JLE, I have not shopped at the Harbor Freight store that just opened up near my area. Sounds like they have some great deals and the freebie flashlight can come in handy. Thanks for the great tip!

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