PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s couponing and then there’s something called “extreme couponing,” when people save amazing amounts of money and are obsessed with getting things for free at the grocery store.

So, what does it take to be an “extreme couponer?”

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KDKA’s David Highfield recently traveled to Atlanta to learn the secrets from the Coupon Mom.

You might say the Coupon Mom is the original “extreme couponer,” but the idea really ignited after a show on cable television premiered two months ago.

It profiles people willing to do almost anything to save big; however, you don’t have to go to extremes to get extreme savings.

The show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC profiled four shoppers who are coupon obsessed. One woman jumps in dumpsters to find coupons, another man found so many deals – he needed store help.

“’Extreme couponing’ is the whole idea of – being able to go into the grocery store [and] get all kinds of great stuff free,” said Stephanie Nelson, the Coupon Mom.

On her shopping trip with KDKA, Nelson got plenty of stuff for free, vitamins, vitamin water, tuna fish, pain reliever, noodle soup, hot chocolate, and what she didn’t get free, almost was.

“You don’t have to dive in dumpsters, you don’t have to get thousands of items; the key is, you can be an extreme coupon saver on a regular size cart of groceries,” said Nelson.

Let’s start with hair conditioner, which is normally $1.59.

“This price tag says 10 for $10. It’s really one for $1,” said Nelson. “You don’t have to get 10.”

She combines the store sale with a manufacturer’s coupon for 50 cents, which the store doubles.

“I end up getting it free,” she says. “This toothpaste is normally a $1.79. It’s on sale for 98 cents. I have coupons for 35 cents the store doubles, so I can get this for 28 cents.”

She has 11 coupons. So, at that price, she gets extreme and gets 11.

As for pasta, which is normally a $1.99, the store has it marked down to $1.29; and she coupons that take a dollar off.

“I can use that and I’ll pay 29 cents for a pasta that’s normally a $1.99. So, don’t you think I should get more than one box. I’m [going to] get 15,” said Nelson.

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1. Stock Up
“An extreme coupon shopper knows that you just don’t get two. You want to stock up,” advises the Coupon Mom.

She says the free deals change each week, so soon you’ll have a variety in your pantry and you won’t be in the position of buying just what you need each week regardless of price.

2. Stacking
Nelson says make sure you combine store sales with other coupons.

“Stacking the savings – that’s how you get free deals,” she says.

On her website, in a section devoted to extreme coupon deals, Nelson charts out how stacking can get you items for free at national chains.

3. Write to Companies
Nelson says write to companies and ask them to send you coupons.

4. Electronic Coupons
Take advantage of electronic coupons. For instance, at Giant Eagles’ website, you click on them, they’re automatically put on your Advantage Card and the coupons are deducted when it’s scanned.

5. Date the Circulars
Rather than clipping every coupon, just write dates on the Sunday coupon circulars. Nelson’s site will tell you which ones to go to for the deals you want.

6. Printable Coupons
Go to sites where you can print coupons at home.

In the check out line on KDKA’s shopping trip, the first total that pops up is a whopper, but don’t think the Coupon Mom is going to pay that.

The total was $223 dollars, but after scanning her store loyalty card, it goes down to $142, and then comes the stack of coupons.

Finally, the end result, $223 worth of groceries for just $32.52.

“Which is a savings of 87 percent, “said Nelson. “I was going for 90 percent, but there’s always next week. She says the most important tip is to plan things out.

In fact, if you go to the Extreme Coupon section of her website, she’s figured out how to get 11 items totally free.

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