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Extreme Couponing …How Many Tubes of Toothpaste Do You Really Need?

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Alright, so as you may know, a new episode of Extreme Couponing will air tonight at 9:30 pm EST. I am actually very happy to see that they will be featuring someone who actually pays it forward by donating to the troops. It warms my heart! ๐Ÿ™‚

Back in April of 2010, I posted this question – “How Many Tubes of Toothpaste Do You Really Need?”

This, in my opinion, is a very good question to ask yourself when you begin your couponing journey. Once you start couponing, you come to realize rather quickly that scoring free or nearly free toothpaste is one of the easiest things to do… however, you will also realize rather quickly that building up a large stockpile of toothpaste can happen overnight. AND once this happens, the light bulb will go on – it definitely did for me!

I suddenly realized I was capable of helping others in a BIG way and I didn’t need a large budget to do it. It really is one of the greatest gifts we couponers can give. It’s not just about the free toothpaste we can give to someone who desperately needs it… it’s about the act itself. The simple act of kindness – exactly what this world needs. Just think of all the lives you can touch in such a positive way. I also believe that giving to others motivates them to want to do the same – which makes the giving effect continue to spread.

Here are a few videos I’ve done that may inspire you:
*Pay It Forward Holiday Challenge
*Christmas Toy Donation
*Harvest Hope Food Bank Donation
*Giving Back

Also, you may want to check out these videos if you are a newbie to the world of couponing:
*Couponing for Newbies
*The Coupon Rush
*Coupon Organization Part 1
*Coupon Organization Part 2
*Proper Coupon Usage
*Girls’ Day Out on a Budget

On a side note, I want to open up this post to all of you. I’d love to hear how you share your abundance. I’d also love to hear what couponing has done for you… how your life has changed. I never anticipated how amazing this frugal journey of mine would become and now, well, it has definitely surpassed all of my expectations.

Collin founded Hip2Save in 2008 and has over 10 years experience as a deals and lifestyle editor, strategist, and creative copywriter. She is debt-free and has been featured in Parents Magazine, Today.com and MSNBC. Connect with Collin on LinkedIn

Join The Discussion

Comments 260

  1. Sara

    How has my life changed since couponing? I used to think I was frugal, good with money, good at making a dollar stretch. We are a one-income family, I stay at home with our 3 kids, our household income is about $35k. About 2 years ago we started Dave Ramsey’s plan to eliminate debt. We had 2 debts, a student loan and an adoption loan totaling over $44k. It seemed impossible but I took another look at our budget and as I was searching for something online about saving money I ran into a couponing site. I skoffed. Saving 25 cents here and there wasn’t going to do me any favors, plus using coupons would just be embarrassing. I really had no idea what kind of coupons were out there, like most people I assumed all the wrong things. But I kept looking into it, found a site where she showed how coupons work and I kept thinking “there must be a catch, I couldn’t do that.” The more I learned the more excited I became and soon I found your website and have been here every day since! Love your how-to videos, they were a big help at the start. I found your site and starting seriously couponing a little over a year ago. I used to be embarrassed when I presented coupons, wondering what people thought of me. Now I feel sorry for people who don’t use them, cringing at how high their bills must be. ๐Ÿ™‚ I even made up business cards for when people (including cashiers) inquire about my coupons in line, which happens regularly. At Christmas I was able to donate a box of personal care and cleaning products to a local women’s shelter out of my abundance. Oh, and that debt I spoke of? GONE! Last month we made our last payment on our last debt! Lots of hard work and some unexpected blessings from above made it happen. Thank you Collin, for your hard work here and your sharing heart.

    • Anonymous

      Sara, I would love to learn your skills I coupon but it saves me money but not mega money like these people are saving. I also have dept and would like to get rid of it. I am a working mom of two. Please share your skills… Help ๐Ÿ™ cause I am trying but am not really getting it and I am not a mom who spends. we don’t go out to eat we don’t go to movies. I buy one paper I have asked around for people if they don’t want their papers at work to save them for me but no one gets them. So what more can I do ? I print online coupons. Hell I mail people I don’t even Know coupons to help them out lol. Just looking for some advise on how I can get out of the hole. thanks ๐Ÿ™‚



      • Bonnie

        a good place to start is with Dave Ramsey’s book “the total money makeover” I just finished it and we are on our way to becoming debt free. He has what he calls “baby steps” and it really is helpful and eyeopening. Nothing magical just really good common sense.

      • Sara

        Rebecca, the place to start is with a written plan, aka a budget. Each month “spend” every dollar on paper before the month begins. It takes discipline and sacrifice. Once I started doing this every month I could see how much “extra” I could throw at debt. And that is a great feeling, very motivating. Like Bonnie suggests, I highly recommend Dave’s “Total Money Makeover” book. I even more highly recommend taking Financial Peace University, a 13-week course that will rock your world! My husband and I took it a year ago and just finished leading the class at our church this year. It is WELL worth the investment. Dave’s Baby Steps do make sense, but I wouldn’t say it’s common sense, or more of us would know and implement them. Having a plan each month (budget) is very eye-opening and freeing. As far as getting multiple coupon from the papers, check the recycle boxes outside of stores. The stores get reimbursed for unpurchased papers and they put those papers outside in a box and they will still get reimbursed if the coupon inserts are missing so most don’t mind if you grab a few inserts. Hope that helps a little.

      • Bonoca


        I get a TON of coupons every week. For some reason, our local newspaper puts out freebie ads every Sunday to folks who don’t subscribe to the paper. Oftentimes, people won’t pick them up and they will lay in their yard for days. I pick them up because they always include a ton of coupons that are normally in the Sunday paper.

        I’d suggest going on to Craigslist and putting an ad in to see if anyone has coupons to donate. I’ve donated thousands of dollars worth of coupons that way to others and it doesn’t cost me a dime. If you happen to live in Richmond, VA, I’d be more than happy to donate them to you!

        • Lisa

          Hi Rebecca,
          I live in Richmond and would appreciate any help with coupons. Please email me asilbo@yahoo.com Thanks for your help!

    • Cheryl

      I’m really happy you mentioned that about Dave Ramsey. I started couponing very recently and my husband and I are attending our first Dave Ramsey class tonight. I’m excited to learn how I can connect the two. I still have some organization issues but I’m getting a little better.

      The only problem I’m facing with couponing now is my husband. When I come home with 2-3 bottles of face wash he gets really nervous that I’m going to go “extreme” and fill up our house. He also gets embarrassed when I talk about it or stop and pick-up extra coupons. I’m showing him how much we are saving but since it’s stuff he really doesn’t care about I think it makes it a bit difficult.

      • Barbara

        My husband used to get embarrassed by my couponing as well. He might still be a little embarrassed, but he’s learned how to cope by joking about it. The other day I said “I think I have a coupon for that.” He replied with “I knew you were going to say that.” It also helps get him in the spirit when we save a bunch of money on stuff he wants.

        • Ruth

          I would recommend any of Suze Orman’s books when dealing with debt and a savings plan. Her newest title is “The Money Class”. During her Saturday evening show she recommended that people pick up her books at their local library–a great way to start saving dollars, I think. She is inspiring, supportive and realistic.

      • Sara

        Cheryl, one of the best things about Dave Ramsey in my opinion is that it gets husband and wife working together on what can be a touchy subject in many marriages. Once you and your husband begin taking the FPU class and implementing it, I think (hope) that his attitude will get tweaked. With both partners working together on money–which touches nearly every aspect of life–it will benefit you in more ways than just your wallet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Victoria K.

    Hi Collin,

    With all of my freebies or my extras, I make sure to give back. Some of the ways I do this is by donating to my church’s food bank, donating products that the Youth Group can use for their fundraising dinners (so that they don’t have to purchase them), we donate to our troops, and we also donate to local food banks and ministries that could use the help. It is always a great feeling to know you are saving money for yourself, but it is an even greater feeling (at least to me anyway) that you are helping out others in the community that are in need.

  3. Jen

    In a few weeks, seven of my close friends are headed to an orfanage in Haiti. There they are going to be helping vicims of the earthquake. However, each of them are required to bring at least 50lbs worth of items to give to the children. These items range from books and crayons, to nail polish and soap. Because of couponing, I was able to give so many items to one to help them reach their need. It’s exciting to know that my couponing is helping people in other countries!

  4. melissa a

    I was at CVS yesterday and they asked me if I wanted to donate a bag of gummy bears to the troops. I said, duh! Another reason to love CVS. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Bethany

    Just this last Monday. I was at Walmart getting their deal on the baby formula (Both my kids are out of that stage) and I was planning on giving it to someone in the family who needed it or donating it. My cashier asked me where I find these high value coupons because her niece have two babies in diapers and on formula and she had no income and the food bank was always out of formula. I told her where I got mine and handed her my $3/1 stack. (I didn’t use them because nothing would’ve been totally free with them) Then I got the great idea to give the cashier my 8 containers that I had just scored overage on. She made sure it was OK with her manager, and I left Walmart feeling just wonderful. Not only had I helped a fellow young mom out, I actually made money on the formula as well. Talk about getting paid to help. It made my week!!!!!!!

    • Kim

      What a great thing you did! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Linda Hahn

      That’s a great story!! Good job!

  6. sparkle

    Susie, thank you for sharing that story! How awesome!! Battered womens shelters are also great places to donate! They often have to leave their homes with very little to escape an abusive relationship. I also like to share my coupons with ppl in the store when I see something in their basket that I have a coupon for.

  7. weyanna73

    There are many time I am able to pick up freebies or super cheap personal care items. I have been collecting them and have just shipped some over seas to our men and women serving our country. They went over with 35 cases of Girl Scout Cookies my nine year old daughter and I collected for the troops. I have been able to give to PADS(Public Action to Deliver Shelter) and the Crystal Lake food pantry. I love to be able to share with my family and friends. Every one seems to be going through a difficult time and to share some money saving tips, coupons or just plain good will is fulfilling and humbling at the same time.Thank you for all your help with my less than organized couponing! You truly do a great job, Colin and associates.

  8. Missy

    Well I’m new to couponing, so I haven’t gotten to pay it forward much yet. However, we have a home for women coming off of drugs right down the road. These ladies may have jobs, but don’t make much, plus I think they have to pay for this home, not sure though. I did get to donate feminine products and shampoo/conditioners to them. I’d love to score some food deals like y’all and donate. I’m usually only able to score 1 or 2 items.

  9. Leslie

    Changed? Oh yes! I prayed and told God I would only keep what my son and I needed and the rest would go to our church’s food bank. It is amazing to see what God is doing thru my couponing and the best thing is is that I use the “couponing conversation” to give God glory and honor. I usually take at least one bag of coupon items to the food bank a week. Also, I took a HUGE bag of toothpaste one day. The workers were so excited! Thanks, Colin! You are making a difference in other peoples live. Oh yeah, I almost forget, I send all my expired coupons and coupons that I don’t or can’t use to our military overseas! Changed my life? Oh, yes!

    • Jackie

      Leslie, that is awesome what you do with your church. I also donate to ours, I told my husband that when I started couponing I would help those in need and God gets the glory for it, he has provided the knowledge and the people to help provide for those less fortunate. Praise the Lord!!! Also I would love to get the address of where to send the expired coupons for the troops because I end up with quite a few every month and I would love to help them out.

  10. nankatfog

    I think this show is absolutley ridiculious! With selfish people. I use coupons yes but I never clear shelves. Heck in Ca. there are only 2 stores that I know of that double coupons and they only double 1 of the same and only up to a dollar. I guess they don’t want people like we see on the show walking into their stores…LOL
    Here’s my thing. I understand having a stock pile of things YOU USE but a women buying all those diapers and she doesn’t even have kids! Now how fair is that to the people that do have kids and want that deal? There’s nothing more frustrating then to go into a store and think your going to get a good deal on one maybe two items and when you get the the isle where that particular product is it has been wiped out. These people do not need to be on Extreme Couponing they need to be on the Hoarders show!

    • Andrea

      Agreed! Thats bull$*#! Especially to buy up all the diapers, give em to a neighbor for god sakes!

  11. Debbie

    I started couponing in September of last year. Our office adopts a shelter for abused teens every year and due to my couponing I was able to put together 25 big gift bags with makeup and essentials for all of the girls. I also bought toys for younger children in another shelter. We were struggling financially which is why I started couponing and in just a few months I was able to give back. I love to share coupons and extras whenever I can. Couponing has made a huge difference in our life and I have to say I love it!! Thanks for all your tips and coupons!!!

  12. Jean

    I am a middle school teacher and have donated Stayfree, Carefree, Kotex, etc. to our school nurse. You wouldn’t believe how much they go through each month. They are so appreciative. Every bit helps.

  13. Kris

    Thanks for getting this dialog started. After watching the Extreme Couponing shows, I’m disappointed by how little the couponers seem to think about donating much of their stockpiles (or, quite possibly, how little the show will allow them to talk about). I can’t imagine feeling like I need to fill every nook and cranny of my house with stuff that I’ve gotten for free! I feel wonderful knowing I’ve got enough for my family (that we’ll actually use within 6 months or so), and that I can donate the rest. Two of us have started a couponing project where we’re trying to encourage others to learn the art of couponing so they can take care of their families AND help others. It’s called The Proverbs 31:20 Project. We’ve just started the project, but our goal is to raise awareness about where the free stuff we get can be donated, like to food pantries, shelters, schools, churches, etc.

  14. Sunlover

    I think Extreme Couponing is showing hoaders. I coupon and have a good stockpile – but I do not have 1000 tubes of toothpaste! Nate has so many items, there is no possible way he could ever use it all. He is a classic example of a hoader. Couponing can be addictive and it is truly exhilerating to find the deals. However, when it consumes your life and your house, you have a problem. These people are hoaders in every sense of the word.

  15. john

    As a single dad i have no need for feminine products. However, when they are free or a moneymaker I pick them up and when the stockpile gets to be 4-8 packages I load up and head on down to the local battered womens shelter and hand em’ over. Or I take them to the local volunteer fire department. They give their time to help their community for FREE and can’t just run to the store when the unexpected hits, so they keep the small stock in the womens locker room for those times, and let me tell you they are very thankful!

    I also clean out my free sample/trial size drawer every couple of months and donate them to the troops or an organization that supports the homeless or less fortunate.

    It is so easy and costs NOTHING, but means A LOT!

    • morasue

      That is a great idea about donating the sample size products to homeless shelters. I have a huge stack of shampoo/conditioner samples that I only use when I am traveling (which isn’t a lot!). Thank you!

  16. Andrea

    Or 30 boxes of pasta! Pasta is an easy score. I got my 15 to last through the next few months and still had a ton of coupons to use. I was going to give them to my neighbor but she had already cashed in on the pasta deal so instead I bought them to put in the food drive at the grocery store at which I work. It does feel great to give, and this is comming from a single mother who works at a grocery store=)

  17. sparkle

    Susie, thank you so much for sharing your story! So awesome!!
    Another great place to donate us a battered womens shelter. They often have to leave their homes with very few items to escape an abusive relationship. I also like to watch for ppl in the store buying items that I have a coupon for and share with them!

  18. Sarah Scalise

    For sure this is extreme and when i see the stockpiles that just over flow and over flow, I get sick. how much is too much. I was so turned off by Jaime Kirlew (“lets clear the shelf” of the 62 bottles of mustard, of which her husband doesn’t even eat) but the fact that she buys all of this and doesn’t pay it forward. Andrew (think that is his name) was on again, but his stock is crazy but he has twice payed it forward and they have showed him doing so. Just recently found out about Mrs. Kirlew’s past history of coupon fraud, it really makes me feel sad when you have to stoup to that level to get free stuff. You know what the coupon says and you still buy things that the coupon doesn’t allow.

  19. Crystal

    Couponing has def changed our lives. My husband and I decided when we got married that when our clocks started ticking and babies were on their way that I would quit work and stay home. The job I had was a mostly volunteer teaching position because the small private school I attended was in need of a Kindergarten teacher and most students were no/low income and were given free tution. (We live in a rural area in the mountains) We knew that we would be giving up a lot but for us it was the only choice. He has had 3 pay cuts in 2 years due to recession but we are blessed he still has a job. Also at this time his father was having a mystery illness that was taking his life and his grandfather passed away. All of that was happening over 8 hours away so we were racking up car miles and credit card debit! We were drowning in debt! We were invited to a couponing class a year ago and it has saved us!. Before we went to the class we decided it was time for me to go back to work. After our 1st Kroger run we knew we could make it! I still get to stay at home and give back by making hospitial baskets and food baskets for our church. We are BLESSED!

  20. Jennifer

    I enjoy giving some of the free/cheap things I get to family and friends for birthdays and christmas along with your website and my other favorite couponing websites so they can learn how to coupon as well. The more the merrier!

  21. Carina Blalock

    Hi Colin,
    Thanks for all of the hard work you put in to your site!! I use it regularly. I am coordinating some community outreach programs for my son’s school. We do collections of pet products for the local humane society, Thanksgiving food baskets for the local food shelf, Christmas Stockings for the Salvation Army and Easter Baskets for foster children. I have been using my coupons to collect food, toys and personal care items for these outreach projects. Last year we filled 100 Christmas stockings for local children. My goal for next Christmas is to donate a new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste for every stocking so I try to pick up one or two oral care items each week.
    Thanks so much for all of your help scoring great deals for children and families in our community!

  22. Katrina

    We were blessed last month to be able to give a lot of stuff we got free from couponing to the local battered women’s shelter and military care boxes that the girls were doing for American Heritage Girls. It was so wonderful to collect all that deodrant, keep one for my husband and be able to give the rest to those who need it. We have started a box at our house that we put all the things we get “free” or nearly “free” that we will donate in and then we use that to pass along, our big one is to the local homeless as we help with Stocking for homeless at Christmas and our church helps with the local homeless shelter. We also do Operation Christmas child.

  23. Jeanette

    Your site has changed my life in amazing ways. I hardly ever used coupons until a friend gave me your website. Now, almost a year later, I am known as the coupon queen to all my friends. I have several groups that I donate lots of stuff to. My daughter and her 4 college room-mates, a special solider (who is like a son to us) and his troop, orphans in Cambodia, and numerous people I work with. It’s soooo much fun to mail care boxes and to deliver bags of free stuff to people that I know can use it! Thank you for blessing my life in this way!

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