Two weeks ago, Pat and I got sucked into a night of Extreme Couponing. No, we weren’t dumpster diving for newspapers and cutting away; rather were completely entranced by the TLC show. {{And what Saturday night ‘date’ could be hotter than 3 hours of reality TV watching?}}

The premise? Individuals spend massive amounts of time (one woman spent 60 hours a week) scavenging for coupons and then matching them with deals at area stores. It didn’t really matter if they needed the item or not. It was about creating scenarios that got them store credit, which saved money off of their total amount owed, or purchasing enough items with multiple coupons that the item was essentially free or almost free. We’re talking CARTS of items, BINDERS of coupons, and MULTIPLE transactions. Note to self: See man or woman with coupon binder in store? AVOID said person at ALL costs in the check out aisle.

$850 worth of groceries for $35 forked over. Or $0 for over $1000 worth of product. It feels like it should be criminal, but it’s a lot of smart math and planning. And, let’s be honest, a little bit of a high.

What do you do with three carts full of deodorant and cream cheese? (Because EVERYONE needs that much in their lifetime, right?). You stockpile. You turn your basement or garage into your own self-service convenience store. You think your pantry is well stocked? Organizing a stock pile takes ‘type A’ to a whole new level.

Watching the show was a little like watching a horse race. The excitement mounting: would they make their goal of only spending $15? But the whole time I had this nagging, sick feeling in my stomach watching as carts were being stuffed with candy, frozen food entrees and hundreds of bottles of soda: What are they feeding their families? Where are the veggies? The fresh fruit? Grains? The 68 bottles of Vitamin Water just won’t cut it.

Maybe those items were there and we weren’t seeing it because of editing? Err…

That said, we’re hooked.

We’ve never really been couponers ourselves. So, we decided to try it. For the last two weeks, we’ve nabbed a copy of the Sunday edition of The Baltimore Sun (for 25 cents at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market), cut coupons, searched for some of our favorite brands online for printable coupons, and checked our local stores for deals.

Note, we are NOT extreme. I don’t have time to hit up multiple stores each week. But I am about saving a little green and if a little bit of planning and clipping helps that, I’m in. Last week I knocked $30 off our regular purchases. No stock piling required.

Here are a few great couponing blogs I’m now checking out daily:

  • Smart Couponing: Updated several times a day on both the blog and their facebook page. You can search by popular store, or just keep tabs on the running discount feed.
  • Moms Need to Know: Lots of great information, printable coupons, deal scenarios AND a toolbar. (Yepp, that means you get all of the latest deals directly in your browser tool bar.)
  • Coupon Geek: A really nice mix of tips — everything from Target deals and restaurant coupons to dog food printable coups.
  • Organic Deals: Yeah, I do have a bit of crunch in me. This site focuses on deals for organic food. Right up my alley. They even have pages dedicated to Trader Joes and Whole Foods deals. (And if you love Whole Foods, check out a previous post about shopping there on a budget.) Plus, how to score great deals on Organic goodies online. The Bug loves Revolution Foods Smoothies, but only Babies R Us carries them around us and it’s not a store I frequent…

Are you a coupon clipper? Would love to hear your tips!