EAGLE RIVER (WAOW) -- Ashley Krusick and Melissa Streich are taking couponing to the extreme.
Together, these shopping enthusiasts from Eagle River say they've saved thousands of dollars.
"Our biggest shopping trip was a little over $2,100 dollars and we spent $150," said Melissa.
"We look for what's on sale, and then we match up the coupons we have to see what kind of deal we can get," said Ashley.
Ashley and Melissa met us at Pick ‘n Save to show us how it's done. We started in the health and beauty section of the store.
"My first shopping trip was getting the Olay bars, which are normally $4.49," said Ashley. "They had them on sale, which made them 24 cents each."
Wait—that's 95 percent off! How is that possible?
Ashley explained the sale on Olay bars was $2.24 each. She had a coupon for $1 off, which doubled to $2 at Pick ‘n Save.
"That brought it down to 24 cents," said Ashley.
What does doubling mean? We learned it's a sales promotion at Pick 'n Save.
"With a $25 minimum dollar purchase, they can double up to 5 coupons up to a dollar each," said Pick 'n Save cashier Lisa Lang.
Ashley showed us another example of coupons paying off.
"Last week, the Suave kids shampoo stuff was on sale," she said. "It was marked down half-off, so it was like $1.14 each. And I had a 50-cent coupon that doubled, making them all 14 cents each."
But couponing does more than just help people lower the cost of their grocery bills. Ashley and Melissa say, in some cases, they actually get money back at the cash register.
Melissa showed us a rack of cat treats on sale for $1.50 a piece. But there's a catch. Melissa would actually end up earning money for each treat she bought.
"I have a coupon for a dollar off of one," she said. "When that doubles, it's going to be two dollars, so I'm going to get 50 cents back for each bag of cat treats I buy."
But couponing isn't as simple as just showing up at the store. These women put in lots of planning and time.
"About six hours, maybe 10 hours a week, depending on how big the sales are," said Ashley.
And once the coupon clipping and planning are over, shopping can take hours as well. During that process, it helps to have a patient cashier like Lisa Lang.
"They pre-plan their shopping before they come in and they've got everything separated out in orders," said Lang. "We designate a special cashier just for the girls so that they can, our cashier can just concentrate on their orders."
When the shopping trip is over, Melissa and Ashley look at what they got and how much they saved.
"I set it all up and take a picture and post it to Facebook," said Ashley.
A recent shopping trip would have cost Ashley $377.79. After coupons, she got it all for $72.07.
On the same trip, Melissa would have paid $629.09. But after coupons, she only paid $51.88.
"I'm kind of addicted," said Melissa. "I don't need any more, but I'm addicted."
Some people call excessive couponing a form of hoarding. Is that fair?
"I don't think it's hoarding when you can help other people," said Melissa.
Remember the kids shampoo Ashley bought for 14 cents each?
"We were actually able to donate them to a bunch of kids in Milwaukee that are homeless right now," she said.
So what do you need to start couponing? You can find coupons in the Sunday newspaper and online. But other than that, these self-taught experts say you don't need much.
"Buy a paper cutter, that would be the first thing cause your hand's gonna get sore from clipping coupons all the time," said Ashley.
Melissa said a prospective couponer just needs to find coupons, fliers, a pen, and a calculator.
And they say you can immediately start seeing a difference.
"It is worth it," said Ashley. "It's a hobby, it's fun!"