An Interview With TLC Extreme Couponer Callie aka The Cajun Couponer

A couple of months ago our cable company switched over to a digital system so we had to get this little black digital box (which was thankfully free) to be able to view the channels. The night we were getting it set up we were able to get a whole slew of channels that we don’t usually get with our very basic cable package (which we only have at all so the channels aren’t fuzzy when we watch the news).

I felt like I won the lottery when I realized we not only had a lot of fancy channels but one among them was TLC. And on TLC is this show you’ve probably heard about called Extreme Couponing. Which is totally my kind of couponing if you’re going to coupon at all.

Not only did I get to watch that show that night, but I got to watch 4 episodes in a row (!) because they were having a marathon! How lucky is that! My husband was not nearly as excited as I was about this fortunate development.

When I saw Callie on the show (see the clip below) I was pretty much smitten. She’s sweet as can be and when I saw that she lived in Colorado too I started day-dreaming about spending the day with her in the grocery store and picking her brain about how to do this elusive “Extreme Couponing”. She also did all of her Christmas shopping for $50 (OMG) and donates some of her loot to charities. So cool.

She agreed to answer my many questions about the world of couponing and I’m so happy to share this interview with you all.

And Then We Saved: How did you become The Cajun Couponer?

Callie the Extreme Couponer: I was born and raised in Louisiana, but recently moved to Denver, CO. I am very proud of my Cajun roots and could think of no better name to be known on TLC’s Extreme Couponing then “The Cajun Couponer

ATWS: How long have you been couponing?

Callie: When I was 6 months pregnant, my husband decided he wanted to sell our family business, move halfway across the country and go back to school. That has been over a year now, and when my husbands first college tuition bill came in, it made me realize I had to find a way to save money. I could not make enough money to go back to work and send our kids to daycare…so I found a way to save money and stay home with my kids. I call couponing my “mom salary”.

ATWS: How did you get cast as one of TLC’s Extreme Couponers? 

Callie: I sent TLC a funny email. I said,

“I am not your regular couponer. I told them how I am not your typical couponer…I am not a cat lady, I do not wear mom jeans and am not a puzzle enthusiast.”

I am in my 20’s, have 3 kids under the age of 3 and I am using couponing to basically pay myself a salary while being a stay-at-home mom. They liked the email so then I got to submit a video.

ATWS: Do people recognize you in the grocery stores from the show?

Callie: I get recognized all the time…and it always seems to be right when I have rolled out of the bed to grab a few things from the store. People have been so nice, and basically want to know how I do what I do.

ATWS: How many hours a week do you spend on couponing?

Callie: I spend between 10-20 hrs a week, and that includes prepping, finding the deals, cutting coupons and shopping.

ATWS: Where do you get your coupons?

Callie: Coupons are everywhere!! Like today, I went into Kmart and they had a holiday flyer that had an awesome Philadelphia cream cheese coupon in it. It was a manufacturer coupon and not a store coupon, so I can take it and save it until I find a store that has a good sale on it. The main places I get coupons are newspaper, the internet (I go to my local library and print as many internet coupons as I want) in the actual stores themselves…blinkies, tearpads, etc.)

ATWS: What kind of prep is needed to make the most out of the coupons? Can you explain this
in detail?

Callie: First, you must start collecting coupons. I get anywhere from 5-10 newspapers each week, then if I see a really good coupon, I will order them online from sites like or Next, I check my favorite websites to see what is on sale for the week. I also do coupon match-ups on my own website for 2 stores, so I will know what to get at King Soopers (Kroger) and Safeway for that week. Next, I make my list, then go and clip my coupons. When I get coupon inserts, I do not clip each coupon. I file them in a file cabinet by date, and only clip the coupons I know I will use.

A match-up will look like this:

– Dove Chocolate, 8.5-9.5 oz bag $3.00
Use $1.00/2 Mars Holiday Products from RP 11/13
Final Price: $2.50 each when you buy 2

So if I wanted to do this deal, I would go to file, and find the Red Plum that was released in the paper, and just clip that one coupon. Then it’s off to the store with my list and coupons.

photo courtesy of callie

ATWS: On the show you talked out how you were expecting to save a certain amount at the register based on you calculations. How do you determine your estimated savings?

Callie: My husband is the brain in our operation. I honestly did not know I would be paid to shop that day. I did the math and knew my shopping trip would be free or close to free but I didn’t know I would be paid $150.

ATWS: Do you use a certain kind of software or computer program to organize your shopping trips?

Callie: Kelly, who was on the episode with me, has a website and she sells a couponing spreadsheet to help you keep track of your couponing. There is a link to it on my facebook called Working Mom Coupons spreadsheet. I am a little free-spirited and not as organized as some, so I normally just guess what my totals will be. I just knew everything I was getting that day would be free.

ATWS: What is the most you have saved because of couponing?


On that Extreme Couponing episode I saved 114%.

That is the biggest savings to date but it also took 40 hours of prep and 8 hours of shopping, with a newborn…so I enjoy my small weekly shopping trips where I save 75-95%.

ATWS: What is the longest amount of time you have spent in the grocery store at one time?

Callie: The most, of course, was the 8 hours on the show. Extreme Couponing is named that for a reason because if it was called “Average Couponing” it would not be nearly as exciting. When I shop regularly, the most I spend is an hour.

ATWS: What is the most amount of carts that you’ve had upon check-out during one shopping trip?

Callie: 7

ATWS: Do you only buy items that you have coupons for?

Callie: Now seeing how much money I can save with coupons…it is very hard to pay full price. You can almost find a coupon for anything now…groceries, clothes, food, even tires. You just have to look.

I actually got my entire Christmas shopping done and spent under $50!

ATWS: What is the weirdest thing that you’ve gotten because of coupons?

Callie: I got my kids a set of fake mustaches. They were hilarious!

photo courtesy of callie

ATWS: Have your friends and family members become couponers because of your success?

Callie: I have friends and family that call me on a daily basis to either ask me a question or to tell me what deals they have gotten. My aunt called me yesterday and said “I just did my first Cajun Couponing!”

ATWS: What are your top tips for people that are just getting into the world of couponing?

Callie: My best tip is to follow a few coupon and deal blogs. That is where I get 80% of my information. There is no need to figure out deals yourself when other people are doing it for you. Also keep your eyes peeled. Everytime I am out in town, I always seen to come back with a handful of coupons. And don’t be afraid to ask, some stores will give you a discount just for asking. I was in Kohl’s the other day, forgot my coupon at home, and the nice cashier gave it to me anyway. Also, if you end up getting a lot of one item…more than your family or friends can use, give it to someone who can use it. I always encourage paying it forward. Right now I am partnering with a group called and I am helping send care packages to our military overseas. I am barely paying anything for all the items I am donating.

photo courtesy of callie

ATWS: What is the strangest thing that people ask you about couponing? 

Callie: While filming Extreme Couponing, a man walked up to me and asks me, since I was getting all my items for free…if I was going to sell them. And since that is illegal on so many levels…I said “No!”

ATWS: Is there anything you would like to add that you haven’t been asked?

Callie: The only thing I would add is that you do not have to coupon like we do on the show to be successful. If you are saving ANY money than you did before watching Extreme Couponing, you are doing a great job. But once you get into saving a lot of money…you will be hooked!

Thank you Callie! 

Have you tried Extreme Couponing? Do you use coupons? Why or why not?

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


9 thoughts on “An Interview With TLC Extreme Couponer Callie aka The Cajun Couponer

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  1. meghan

    I did this couponing for a while, but it just took me so so much time and I felt like I had to buy things that were on sale, not that i wanted…and then it was so hard coming up with a menu for the week based on what was on sale without adding other things and ultimately spending more money. Not that I was spending MORE than I do now; it's just that I felt like sometimes I was spending $.50 here and $1 there on things I didn't REALLY need…I was just buying because they were on sale and I had a coupon…

  2. Rich

    I also saw the TLC extreme couponing show; back when we had satellite. It also inspired me to see how much we could save, and so I have been counping for the past few months. I experienced some of what Meghan experienced. Saving some money was relatively easy. Making a significant dent in the food budget took a LOT of time. I became obsessed wtih finding coupons, in the paper, online, anywhere. I bought stuff in bulk because it was on sale and I had coupons. My averge savings on a typical grocery store trip was around 50%. On my best trip I saved 80%. That took some time and a lot of planning in order to coordinate coupons with what was on sale in the store.

    Oddly enough, I did not really cut the grocery bill; maybe just a tiny bit. According to (my spending tracking system) in the first month of couponing I spent around $1200 on groceries; a little above average for us. This is because I was stocking up on stuff. I now have enough deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, etc. to last at least through most of 2012. The next month was another $1200. More stocking up; we are good on coffee for awhile. Last month was around $700. I like to think that if I kept it up, the average would continue to drop. I am not sure though.

    I have eased up on the couponing for now. I still search for them and use them, but I have tamed my obsession with it. To some extent it's because we have so much stuff already. Also, like I said, it is very time consuming. To get to the 70-80% level, I was spending at least 1-2 hours each day scanning coupon sites, reading about the latest deal,etc. That is best left to those who don't work or perhaps work part time. For me, it was too much time.

    One site I did find, and still check , that helped a lot is the Krazy Koupon Lady. She spends her day scanning all of the stores for deals and matching them up with coupons. She also lets you know where to find good coupons. It saves a lot of time.

  3. Heidi Hunger Bijsmans

    I also got inspired by the Extreme Couponing show. I started clipping coupons, mostly from inserts my Mom gives me (she gets the newspaper, I don't). There can be some good coupons (like a $5 off Huggies coupon, but alas we almost exclusively use cloth diapers). But when I get to the store I typically find the store brand is cheaper than the name brand with the coupon. Plus I only use coupons for stuff I actually buy, and we don't buy candy, soda, sports drinks, etc. (lots of the things I see the Extreme Couponers load up on). The bulk-section can have killer deals (no need for coupons there!).

    Please check out my blog: if you are interested – I love you blog and am always inspired to save money, especially now that we have a baby! I blog about life in Portland, OR – I'm a frugal working Mom with a new baby and I have a wacky family that gives me a lot of blogging material.

  4. Anna Newell Jones

    Only using coupons for items you would already buy would definitely be a good plan if you're low on space & just don't want to have so much "stuff" around. Love generic items too. I'm a solid believer in those!


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