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How To Extreme-Coupon Your Way Through Whole Foods. Seriously.

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Environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo has been an activist for more than 20 years. He's a regular contributor to NBC's The Today Show and has created an organic mattress line with Simmons Natural Care, a beauty and skincare line called Wholearth by Danny Seo, and has written a series of Simply Green books about party-planning and gifting. Seo's latest book, Upcycling, features hundreds of innovative, easy and eco-friendly craft projects that turn useless stuff into beautiful new things. Today, Danny shares four valuable tips for saving money while shopping—at Whole Foods and beyond.

A few years ago, I was standing in my local supermarket looking at a box of Boca Burgers. A woman comes up to me and asks, "Do you like those burgers?" She seemed friendly enough, so I told her that I buy them every week. After spending a minute complaining how she could never be a vegetarian, she opens a giant plastic binder and hands me twenty $2 off coupons for the frozen veggie patties. Then the dots connected: a little red sign announced that the burgers were on sale... for two bucks. Cut to me, leaving the store, with 20 boxes of Boca Burgers and a zero dollar receipt. It. Felt. Amazing.

Now, unlike the show Extreme Couponing on TLC where people hoard basements full of toothpaste, sports drinks and snack foods, I, on the other hand, would rather save big on things I actually use. I ate every single one of those burgers. But what I've become obsessed with lately when I actually shop at Whole Foods—often jokingly referred to as "Whole Paycheck"—is whether or not I could Extreme Coupon my way through there. Yes, you can.

Tip #1: Yes, Whole Foods takes coupons: One of the biggest misconceptions about Whole Foods is that because they operate differently than big box supermarkets, they must not take coupons. Wrong. Granted, finding coupons in your Sunday circular for probiotic raw coconut juice or ylang ylang oil is not going to happen, but mainstream organic brands like Kashi and Silk soy milk do advertise. And here's the kicker: Whole Foods itself has downloadable coupons right on their own website: WholeFoodsMarket.com/Coupons That's about $40 off right there.

Tip #2: Can't find a coupon? Ask for it: When you can't find coupons for your favorite products, the simplest thing is to play into the whole social media "trend" all of these consumer brands seem to be obsessed about. Make a list of your Top 10 Always Buy items at Whole Foods. Now spend a minute hitting the LIKE button for all of them on Facebook. Periodically, brands like Morningstar Farms and Honest Tea release money saving coupons to their Facebook fans.

Or, tweet out that you love a specific product and can't live without it. I found this delicious Siggi Icelandic yogurt and tweeted about it. They wrote right back saying they wanted to send coupons for some free yogurt. And even emailing a company directly and just outright asking for coupons surprisingly works pretty well, too. The folks at Method cleaning products like their fans so much they reward them with coupons for nice emails.

TIP #3: Join Recyclebank.com; it's free: Recyclebank.com is an online community that rewards eco-behavior with huge money saving coupons. Sign up for free and learn really helpful tips on going a little bit more green at home, at work and with your family. Each time you pledge to do something, your account is rewarded with points. Then you can shop with those points under "Rewards" for really good deals on things like $2 off any Kashi product, $2 off any two packages of Earthbound Farm organic salad mixes, $1 off Dagoba chocolates, $1 off any (2) Stonyfield Oikos organic greek yogurt and $2 off any Kiss my Face product $5 or more. These aren't rinky dink fifty cent off deals, but actual full dollar increments. The average Recyclebank members saves about $133 off their supermarket bill each year. And, again, it's free. The more you learn, the more points you earn, and the more you save. More than 2 million people so far are on the Recyclebank bandwagon.

Tip #4: Pay it Forward: My policy is even if I have a coupon for something, I don't buy it if I don't really use it. Lots of time I'll just leave the coupons on top of the products in Whole Foods so someone who does use it can save. So, if some strange woman leaves behind, say, twenty $2 off Boca Burger coupons at your market and you hoard them all for yourself, pay it forward next time by leaving a stack of Cascadian Farm organic cereal coupons in the breakfast food aisle the following week. Together, we can help each other save. —Danny Seo
· Danny Seo [Official Site]
· Daily Danny [Official Blog]
· Whole Foods [Official Site]
· Recycle Bank [Official Site]