Reality Stars on TLC's 'Extreme Couponing' Save $40,000 on Grocery Bill

Dumpster diving for coupons can boost your savings at the register.

ByABC News
April 5, 2011, 3:20 PM

April 6, 2011— -- In the two-episode premiere of TLC's "Extreme Couponing," families reveal their money-saving tactics and coupon prowess by taking coupon-clipping to the maximum.

"Why pay for something tomorrow when it's free today?" Nathan Engels, who operates the website, said in an interview with

The coupon clippers on the new episodes of the TLC series aren't lifelong coupon savers, but at the cash register, they often cut more than 90 percent from their grocery bills.

The strategy of free frequently forces extreme couponers to stockpile enough food and supplies to feed an army for years -- but it works. Tiffany Ivanovsky, a preschool director who appears on the first episode, said she has accumulated two years' worth of supplies for her family of nine, and it has saved her around $40,000.

"We use coupons because we don't want our kids to have to pay for college and take out student loans," said Ivanovsky.

Engels said his obsession with coupons began more than three years ago while merging finances with his then-new wife.

"We combined our finances and realized we were deeply in debt, so we started cutting up our credit cards," said Engels. While trimming their debt, the couple began looking at other ways to save, which included the grocery store, their second largest household expense after the monthly mortgage payment.

The basic goal of stockpiling is to remove items from your grocery list and shrink your weekly shopping list. Then, meals and other needs are planned around the stockpile items.

Since welcoming a daughter 14 months ago, Engels has not made a single stop at the store to buy a pack of diapers, thanks to his stockpile.

"I don't ever want to be out of something because that means I'm forced to buy it at the store's price," said Engels. Thanks to stockpiling, Engels said, "Our daughter hasn't affected us [financially] in any way except those darn hospital bills."

Don't Pay Retail

"My 11th commandment is, 'Thou shall not pay retail.' It's not necessary with the use of coupons," said J'amie Kirlew, who keeps coupons valued at $40,000 bound and sorted in her home.

For the savings-obsessed, supermarket inserts are the most valuable assets of the shopping experience. Kirlew, nicknamed "the diva" for her coupon use, calls her stacks of coupons her "100 Holy Bibles."