Extreme Couponers Recap: Two Washington Women Watch their Grocery Bill SHRINK

To kick off tonight’s episode of Extreme Couponing we got to meet up with Amber Bustanoby of Seattle, WA.  This homemaker with four children was going to take the EC cameras along for her big summer-stock up. 

Her organized pantry had enough food to feed her family of six for a year.  Her selfmade  mini-mart has over 50 bottles of laundry soap, hundreds of cans of tomatoes, and 60 boxes of cake mix (which amounts to one cake/year for each of her kids for the next 15 years).   She began couponing when her husband lost his job three years ago.  Her part-time job didn’t bring in what she could bring in by saving money at the grocery store.  The question that begs to be asked, Amber, with all the time you spent couponing, do you take time to actually cook?  That is an incredible amount of tomatoes!

She gets her coupons from dumpsters, neighbors, and by trading coupons with friends.  She stores her coupons in a homemade filing box.  Typically she plans to shop sans kids.  Even though the kids are not shy about grabbing coupons out of the trash, she looks at her shopping time as quiet, me time.  This time around, however, her hubby is headed to work and the babysitter is going to be late so the four kids get to ride to the store and meet up with the sitter there.  They start out the shopping trip, however, “helping” mom.  She enlisted the help of a friend to help with the trip, too. 

Her plan is to store up on sports drinks for the summer.  She saw an ad for $0.50 for sports drinks and since she had $1/2 coupons, her sports drinks would be free.  Knowing she had 200 coupons for it, she pre-ordered 400 bottles of sports drinks which will amount to a cost of zero.   She also picked up 100 packets of coffee.  She got paid $0.31 per packet to buy them.   She did put the kids to work, however, which made the trip a little  fun for everyone.  She had the older kids go up and get handheld carts.  She then let the kids count out ten packets and put in their little cart, and then they’d dump it in Mom’s big cart till they got to 100.  Once the babysitter showed up, the women got down and dirty and got the job done.  They picked up 43 packs of juice boxes. The price was $2.59 but with a $1.00 off coupon that doubles they got 43 packages of them for $0.59 each.  After cleaning the shelves of every single juice box that was priced that way they moved on to the baby wipes and went looking for that free bacon.  In the past she had written to a bacon company, telling them she liked their product and they reciprocated by sending her coupons for free bacon.  She also picked up 60 bottles of hot sauce.   Her trip lasted more than four hours and she rolled out of there with more than 800 items put into five carts and two stock trucks.  She hoped to not need to do any major shopping anymore this summer.  Her total: $1,885.56.  Her total she had to pay was $44.26.  Her register receipt was probably 15 feet long, at least.  Managers, employees, and customers stood in awe waiting for the total.  Some were probably thinking she was a freak, but most were likely completely jealous! 

Extreme couponer Tammilee Tillison of Spokane, Washington, opened up her two bedroom home to show us her stockpile room, which used to be a second bedroom.  The 1,000 item stockpile included a stock of more than 200 cans of  soup and veggies,   cases of beer, a two-year supply of cat treats, 82 boxes of cereal, pasta, and various other items on floor to ceiling shelves.   This homemaker, who has an MBA,  uses her coupons in various ways.  In February she and her husband used a coupon to buy dinner and a movie.  She uses these to help make ends meet because she was no longer working.  They love to travel and the savings go a long way to help.

Her couponing/stockpiling tips are to write the product expiration date on the package so it doesn’t go bad.  For her shopping trip she puts the coupons she plans to use in a huge ziplock bag.  She grouped them by aisle with a clip and puts a sticky note on it with the aisle number.  Newspapers in different areas have different coupons so she calls her parents sometimes and asks them to pick up a paper or two for her and mail her the coupons.

 Her coupons are very organized into two organizers and weigh about 20 pounds.  There are coupons available in various places, Mrs. Tillison points out, even on social networks.  Last year she saved $10,000 and with that money she and her hubby were able to go to the Caribbean twice.  

 Her shopping trip this episode was to help fund a cruise to celebrate her husband’s 40th birthday.  It will cost $500 more than their normal travel budget and she hopes to make up for that by saving money at the store.  She has set out to grocery shop for the next few months so they can save money for their European get away.

Some of her super buys were picking up Excedrin for free (Coupon $3.00 x 2 = -$6 and the bottles were on sale for $2.99 each), Red Hot sauce was on sale for $2.00, but she had coupons for $2.00 off each.   The total before coupons was $640.84.  As the total went lower and lower the crowds were gathering.  The total got down to $17.71.  A bystander said, “That’s better than a part-time job!”  Her 200 item haul included 35 frozen food items, 16 bottles of drink, and 21 toiletries.

These two Washington women are setting about to stock pile for the summer.  I’d say they stockpiled for the year 2012, too.  Seriously, girls?  How much hot sauce can a family use?  And let’s talk about laundry detergent.  If an average bottle washes 32 loads then having 50 bottles will help you wash up 1,600 loads of laundry.  If she had time to wash 3 loads each day, which she probably does not, Amber has enough detergent for 1 ½ years’ worth of washing.    But here’s the question that has got to be asked of these coupon gurus:  Do you think coupons will go out of print?  The families are buying items faster than they could possibly use them, even if Tammilee IS able to skip shopping for three months to help prepare for that trip.  Word to the Wise:  JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN BUY SOMETHING, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD BUY SOMETHING.  If it’s a case of buying something, and getting “paid” to buy it (like with Amber’s coffee) that’s different.  There is no way on this earth you can convince me a family would go through 60 bottles of hot sauce in a summer.  PERHAPS you might use a lot of it if you were canning salsa or making huge batches of chili sauce to freeze, but I doube either coupon queen has time for such domestic endeavors in light of their sensible shopping techniques.  How do these obsessive shoppers know when enough is enough?? 

                                                                                                                    Apparently,  they don’t.

One Response

  1. Cristina May 16, 2011

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