I Didn't Pay for These Items for Years as an Extreme Couponer

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  • Extreme couponing is a practice of stacking store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and sales.
  • It's possible to get items for free as an extreme couponer.
  • When I was involved in extreme couponing, I paid nothing for a few toiletry items during a period of several years.

Clipping coupons can be a good way to keep your credit card bills down if you're buying items you really need. But you can take couponing to a whole new level if you decide to become an extreme couponer.

Extreme couponers go beyond just printing out or clipping a coupon or two from the Sunday paper. The practice of extreme couponing involves pairing store coupons with manufacturer coupons and shopping during sale periods to try to get items for free or for pennies on the dollar.

For years, I was one of those extreme couponers who took all of these steps. And while I've since given up the habit because I found it was a big time-suck that ultimately didn't provide enough value, I did enjoy the fact there were some items I was able to get totally for free, thereby enabling me to keep more money in my checking account.

In fact, for several years, I didn't pay anything for these four items -- and, more than a decade later, I actually still have some of them left.

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1. Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes were one of the easiest items to get for free. Stores often had them on sale for around $1 or so, and manufacturer coupons usually provided $0.50 off. When stores ran promotions like buy-one-get-one free, I could "buy" two toothbrushes for $1 and then use two $0.50 off coupons to pay nothing for them.

2. Toothpaste

Toothpaste was another item that I was able to get tubes of for $0.00. I used the same trick of combining buy-one-get-one sales with manufacturer coupons.

CVS also runs promotions where you could buy a certain dollar value worth of products and get back CVS ExtraBucks. Other stores would offer the chance for rebates or gift cards, and toothpaste was regularly included in these deals. When combining store and manufacturer coupons with these types of special deals, there were times I got paid to purchase toothpaste -- so I ended up with dozens of tubes of it.

3. Shampoo

Shampoo was yet another product that it was very easy to get for free -- especially when new products came out. Manufacturers often provided generous coupons for it, and there were store deals to combine them with. I used to buy extra copies of shampoo coupons from the Sunday paper using online websites that sell them because I could reliably expect that shampoo deals would be available.

4. Razors

I was able to get a ton of razors for free as an extreme couponer. Many razor manufacturers provide generous coupons in hopes that you will buy their razor and then spend years buying replacement blades. I would just take advantage of the coupons and store sales to purchase the razor and then I would switch to a new one once the blade wore out, rather than falling for the trick of buying the blades.

Getting these items for free was definitely nice, but the reality is it took a lot of time to match up coupons with sales and visit the stores offering the bargains -- and I did end up with more than I needed. So even if you are getting stuff for free as an extreme couponer, take the time to make sure it's really worth your effort.

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