Scott Boudin's home in Old Bethpage doesn't contain the usual telltale signs of coupon compulsion: There are no stacks of tuna cans and paper towels looming in room corners or under beds, or bundles of newspaper inserts and supermarket circulars on tables -- the kind of evidence found often on "Extreme Couponing," the new TLC series that will feature Boudin Wednesday, June 8 at 9 p.m.
Even Boudin's stockpile -- the ultimate dead giveaway -- located in the basement is (sort of) modest. Although it includes 2,500 diapers, 400 rolls of toilet paper and 150 rolls of paper towels, it occupies a shelving unit that takes up 14 feet of wall space, whereas stockpiles of other featured coupon clippers have been known to encroach on bathrooms and children's bedrooms.
"I am not like those people," says Boudin, 35, a producer and on-air personality for Z100's "Elvis Duran and The Morning Show." "At least, in my head, I think I'm not."
Couponing -- in real life
Boudin is what he likes to call a "practical" couponer -- a person who plays by the rules, who doesn't split his orders into separate transactions or use expired coupons, who will only purchase the items that he and his family intend to use.
"I actually enjoy doing it," he says. "It's not a manly thing to do, I guess, but it's like a trophy to bring home an awesome receipt."
Indeed, the savings can be impressive.
"These all cost nothing," Boudin says, pointing to a recent haul of eight bottles of ready-to-feed baby formula, which, at full price, can retail for about $8 each.
How? Boudin found the formula on sale for $5 (his store of choice is ShopRite of Morton Village in Plainview). He used four $5 coupons he found in previous weeks' newspapers, and four $3 coupons given to him by friends and clipped from leftover inserts found at work. Then he used two $5 checks from Similac, part of the formula manufacturer's StrongMoms program, to cover the balance. "So, in essence, I made two bucks on the deal," he says.
And unlike many extreme couponers, who spend dozens of hours each week going through circulars, making spreadsheets and carefully organizing shopping trips, Boudin's system is far less labor-intensive. On Sunday mornings, aided by a cup of coffee and the television, Boudin combs the newspaper circulars and pairs the sale items with the coupons he has.
"I'll generally have 30 or 40 items on my shopping list and have coupons for nearly all of them," says Boudin, who began clipping coupons when he moved to Iowa at age 18 and had to cut corners while living on his own.
He also visits reputable websites, such as Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and RedPlum.com, for added savings. "All the supermarkets have printable coupons on their sites now too," he says, "and a lot of them have e-coupons that they'll send right to your loyalty card."
On the show
The groceries that Boudin purchased for the "Extreme Couponing" segment yielded his biggest savings yet -- over 90 percent of his total bill. "It was the most I've ever saved, because it was the most I ever bought," he says, "but on a typical shopping trip, I'll buy 150 dollars' worth of items and spend 30 or 40 bucks. As a general rule, I feel like if you can save more than you spend, you're successful."
Like many couponers, Boudin believes "full price is a dirty word," which is why his wife, Amy, is "not allowed to go anywhere near the supermarket," he says with a laugh."I know she sneaks out on her own during the week, and what I don't know won't hurt me, but sometimes I see bags from other stores, and I'm, like, 'You went to Fairway? There's nothing on sale there!' "
"He's been like this since I met him," says Amy Boudin, 34, a business manager for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, who works from home and cares for the couple's daughters, Ashley, 3, and Cooper, a newborn. "At first, I thought it was a little bizarre. At some points, we'd have 30 containers of body wash, and I'll say to him, 'Are you nuts?' But we end up using it all."
"I look at this as Aisle 3 at the supermarket," Boudin says of his stockpile, "so my wife can come downstairs and get whatever she needs. I just make sure it's stocked, and if I can do it for really cheap or free, then more power to me."
We asked Newsday readers to share their best strategies for couponing.
"One of the things I hear from coupon newbies is 'Yes, I cut coupons, but then I forget about them or leave them at home.' To keep that from happening, you should write your shopping list on an envelope . . . then you can put the clipped coupons right in that envelope, so you have them with you as you shop. Or you can even throw them in a zip-lock bag and keep them in the car."
-- Sherri Winther, Huntington Station
"Buy the early Sunday edition of the newspaper, which is cheaper and usually has the same inserts as on Sunday. There are websites, such as SundayCouponPreview.com and TheCouponClippers.com, where you can find out what coupons will be available ahead of time. Also, there are sites that give previews of sales at supermarkets and drugstores -- my favorites are hip2save.com and afullcup.com, which also do coupon matchups."
-- Jodi Weiss, Smithtown
"One of my favorite coupon deals requires NO coupon. King Kullen's butcher department frequently has 'manager's specials' on meat purchases, whereby the item is on sale at a fraction of the original cost due to the closeness of the sell-through date. The product is perfectly OK and the purchase results in significant savings."
-- Bob Buscavage, Moriches