Couponing Basics

Top 10 Extreme Couponing Mistakes

If you’re new to couponing, you’re probably very eager to get started! Before you do, you may want to prepare for some of these common couponing mistakes before you dive in.

1. Going Overboard

When you first begin couponing, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into the “game.” It is FUN after all! However, I recommend you don’t try to go to 6 stores every week or try to grab every single freebie. Trust me when I say, the deals WILL come around again.

Choose 2-3 of your favorites stores (for instance: 1 drug store, 1 grocery store, and 1 super store) and stick with just those. Also, try to limit your shopping trips to just once per week or only when you are already out and about near that store.

2. Spending Too Much Money

Anyone else see their spending INCREASE when they started couponing? While building up a stockpile could be the reason for it, you might also be buying more than you need. If you don’t need the item (or know someone specifically who does), don’t buy it – even if it’s an amazing deal! It will just clutter your home and drive up your grocery bill.

3. Spending Too Much Time

Spending hours and hours couponing is actually something I do NOT want to do! I try to limit my time couponing as much as possible. While I do enjoy the thrill of a good deal, I have to make sure my priorities are in order and that I’m not neglecting other responsibilities just so I can go grab another free razor.

4. Being Unorganized

Don’t you just hate when you discover a can of something in the back of your pantry that expired a year ago? It probably happens to most families, but with couponers, it is probably even more common. Having a stockpile of items means you have to be careful to rotate your goods (put newer items at the back and bring the older ones to the front) to avoid letting them expire. Wasted food is wasted time and money.

5. Junk Food

One pitfall of couponing is buying lots of junk food that you normally wouldn’t buy. While the coupons for junk food are more common than the coupons for healthy food, it doesn’t mean that’s what you have to buy. Don’t normally buy cookies? Don’t bother clipping the coupon for them!

6. Just Because You Have a Coupon…

This mistake is a doozy, and one of the most common reasons people believe they can’t save money with coupons. Just because you have a coupon, doesn’t mean you have to use it! If you don’t like/need the product, the item isn’t on sale, or the generic brand is cheaper, then you need to put the coupon down and step away slowly.

Please don’t clip all the coupons from the paper and try to use them right then. Hang on to your coupons for the right sale and then make your move.

7. Not Using Stockpile

Stockpiles are pretty to look at but they aren’t meant to be home decor. They are there to be used! Sometimes we work so hard to build them up that it can make us sad to see some of the stockpile being used. Well, that’s what it’s there for. Go ahead and let your husband take a bottle of mouthwash off the shelf. You’ll thank me later.

8. Clearing Shelves

Trying to build your stockpile can be quite a bit of work. It takes time. Sometimes we get in a hurry and want to see a nice supply of shampoo in our closet right now. It can be tempting to clear the shelves of every bottle of Herbal Essences when it goes on sale – and at every store within a 50 mile radius. However, others who shop there are trying to build their stockpile too (or maybe they are out of shampoo and are just needing to pick up a bottle). Take the amount you need but be courteous toward other shoppers and don’t clear the shelves.

9. Trying to Get EVERY Deal

It can be hard to pass up a deal. The savings are fun and you like a pretty stockpile. But remember to ask yourself these questions before you buy: “Does my family or someone I know specifically need it? Do I already have an abundance in my stockpile? Do I have room in my grocery budget to buy it?” Asking these questions first will help you determine whether you need it or if you’re just wanting to grab another great deal just for the thrill.

10. High Expectations

I frequently get emails from people who are so disappointed that they only saved 49% on their grocery bill. Yes, upset about it! While saving 99% is certainly possible, it’s not going to happen on every single shopping trip. It’s important to set realistic savings goals and remember that even saving a $1 here and there is still saving money.

I hope these tips do not discourage you from couponing. I think pretty much every couponer (myself included!) has made one or more of these mistakes! Hopefully by reading this, you can learn from our mistakes and start your couponing journey with realistic expectations.

What do you think? Did I forget any?


  1. We have two stockpile rooms full of food and none food. As long as you have it organized by dates you will never toss. We buy stuff we don’t need. We can trade, barter or sale the items at garage sales. Nothing wrong with clearing the shelf as long as your going to use the product.


  2. I just started couponing and I notice that some coupons are limiting one coupon per trans action. Meaning u can only use one. In extreme coupon they use more than one coupon of the same item. Is the coupon company catching on and now limiting to just use one coupon per transaction. That is lame if there trying to stop extrem couponers from making a huge haul.


    • If the coupon states “limit 1 coupon per purchase” that means 1 coupon per item purchased. So if you buy 4, you can use 4 coupons. If it says “limit 1 per transaction” that is indeed a limit per transaction. Most manufacturer’s coupons do not have transaction limits. Some Unilever coupons have a limit of 4 per transaction, and occasionally you’ll see some with limit of 2 per transaction. Often, store coupons have limits like this, but manufacturer’s coupons usually do not. But to answer your question, yes — coupons have become more strict over the years. We can still save, though, even with all the limits! Good luck! 🙂


  3. Lady from SC named Joyce show aired 4/18/14 on TLC. This woman made a HUGE mistake saying she waited for a shift change to get a cashier who was over 40 yrs old, we are talking age discrimination to a major degree. I worked cashier many years and I smiled and loved the large check out customers with many coupons because it kept you busy and informed about deals and just human nature of people in general. We had a lot of older cashiers and they were the fastest cashiers there. As far as a smiling cashier just because a cashier is young doesn’t mean she will smile and be happy to see you, that goes to the personality of the individual. Personally I had customers who would wait for me to check them out because I was always smiling and loved large orders & coupons. She committed a major faux pas making that statement. She also said she was over weight I am not but never would I make mention of her weight nor should she mine. I waitressed for years suppose I mentioned to a hostess that I wouldn’t let an overweight person wait on me? That is weight discrimination which I would never do. That is major disrespect on her part as that would be on mine. TLC should never have allowed those remarks to be aired. That would appear people who coupon from SC are socially inept and disrespectful, I lost the whole concept of what she was doing because of her statements.


  4. These are some great tips and this will help me get started ,, my goal is to have a small stock pile of wht I use,, and even lower my bill by 300 a month any savings is helpful thanks for the tips


  5. I appreciate #8. I have had this happen to me. Cheese slices were on sale, I was politely waiting for the lady in front of me to get hers, (she clearly saw me waiting) and proceeded to put every package in her cart.


  6. Seen the show tlc. I’ve done it before but got disappointed with some of my experiences for a example just a few months ago got a 3 off on butterball turkey, went to Walmart but they refuse to take the coupon. So hopefully this tips me , save money


  7. thank you soo much for postig this,its a great article. iv always been thrifty but have been couponing continously for over 2 years & i fell into alot of those and sometimes still do.


  8. Track your savings – and your spend. I have a spreadsheet (email me if you want it) for tracking the info. I enter my spend and my savings, and the calculations show % saved along with running totals for YTD! This year, I’m at 61.37% savings, which beats last year’s 60.08%.

    Tracking my spend and savings also helped really get my family behind the endeavor!


    • Kelly, I would LOVE to have your spreadsheet!! Can’t figure out how to email you so please send it to me at [email protected]. Would be much, much appreciated!!! Thanks!!!

      Stephanie, Awesome tips!!! Numbers 2, 3 and 4 were my greatest downfalls. I expected to go to the store with $20 and come home with $500 worth of product. Let’s just say I haven’t accomplished that yet and I’ve been serious about couponing for about 4 years.


  9. Thankyou so much for posting this! I hope other people read it and take away from it, especially #8. I get frustrated when I go out on sunday to do the couponing deals and the shelves are already cleared and I see someone with a shopping cart FULL of all the coupon items. Do you really need all that stuff? Save some of the deals for other people!


  10. If I can be so presumptuous as to add #11 to an already awesome list, it would be getting so distracted with my coupon list and deals that I miss good deals already in the store. That could be that generic brand price comparison you already mentioned or an unadvertised special, or if I’m really coupon-zoned, the other great brand next to the one with the coupon that is on sale and a better deal even without a coupon. I think another issue might be forgetting to count cost, e.g. counting the register rewards on both the trip where you got them and the trip you used them or not considering the cost of extra newspaper copies. Unless you are a bargain hunter for the coupons themselves, you have to deduct that cost as well as emotional cost of the time you spend getting the deals. All toward your theme – pace yourself and don’t let your good sense fly out the door!


  11. These are great tips! A mistake I made was paying for a paper delivery. We lived in a small town that often did not get all the coupon inserts, and it just wasn’t worth it to buy a paper every week, especially to have it delivered. So I mostly relied on printable coupons. And then my Grandma started mailing me her coupons!


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  13. Great article! I made lots of mistakes when I first started and one of my biggest was being unorganized because I was rushing to get that great deal. Try to plan things as best you can before going. It can be nerve racking the first few times you do a big haul but staying calm and organized, being watchful of the coupons being scanned can really help make the transaction go smoothly


    • Thank you for your comment, Rosa! Great advice – staying calm is something I’m terrible at. If the slightest issue comes up at the register, I turn beet red! LOL


      • I thought I was the only one who was nervous at checkout. I am always so relieved when none of the coupons beep and no supervisors have to be called, even when I know all my coupons are legit. Another thing that bothers me is I know Harris Teeter has a policy to accept competitor’s coupons for $$$ off a total $$$ amount. Then it depends which supervisor comes to enter it whether they take it. One told me the other day, if it doesn’t scan, they won’t take it. I told him it is not a manufacturer coupon, it is a store coupon which will never scan at HT! Thanks so much for all you do to alert us to good deals and help us save money!


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