Lately, I’ve been watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing (a recent addition to Instant Netflix), and I’ve really tried to understand if going to that extreme to save money is worth the time and effort involved.
Of course I love to save money and get a good deal, and I think using coupons for things you’d buy normally is a great idea, but after watching this show, I noticed a few things that made me question the value of extreme couponing:
- During at least two of the tag-along shopping trips I’ve watched, the couponers featured were bragging about how many of one item they’d gotten for free before further disclosing that they didn’t have a cat to feed all the free treats to, nor a baby to pop into their stash of free diapers. On another episode, a bachelor who lived alone had a stockpile of feminine hygiene products…don’t even want to know what he planned on using them for. (If you’re getting free stuff to give to people since you don’t need it, fine. If you’re getting it just because it’s free stuff, that’s materialism in sheep’s clothing.)
- Last time I checked, there aren’t too many meals on Pinterest that feature vitamin water, tabasco sauce, mustard, and toothpaste as their main ingredients. I realize the cameras don’t show everything, and I did hear one woman mention she bought meat with the surplus she saved on all her other free products, so maybe I just need to see an extreme couponers’ weekly dinner menu to understand how stocking up on random items helps her/him plan dinner in order to buy into the idea.
- Storage space seems to be another deterrent for me. I don’t know about you guys, but the few areas of empty space in my house are always needed for the constant rotation and reorganizing of our necessary household items. I don’t have a whole room, nor do I want to cut a hidey-hole out of an existing wall, to store my thousand rolls of free paper towels or crates of coupons.
- I still don’t understand how they come by all their coupons…I know friends and family probably send them their leftovers, I’ve seen them dumpster dive for them, and I’ve heard them say they print a lot from their computer, but I wonder if they sat down to do the math of having to chase down multiples of coupons they already have, drive to various stores for all the different deals, and the cost of ink for their overworked printers, would they really be saving all that much?
- Unless you live near a grocery store that doubles or triples coupons (which we don’t), I think it’s cheaper to buy groceries at a generic grocery store like Aldi, where in general, their prices are lower than what you’d have saved with coupons.
- How would the average person have time to find all these coupons, track down deals, and spend four hours in the grocery store stocking up? I work 30 hours at the church, tutor, blog, edit someone’s book, write, run my household, and come December, will be taking care of a newborn. I don’t have 60 extra hours a week to devote to clipping coupons, do you?
- The stockpiles of food in these folks’ homes don’t look all that healthy, gang. I guess if we really do have a Zombie Apocalypse, their stashes of processed dinners, Pop Tarts, and ramen noodles will make sure they are well-preserved at death, but in the day to day, one wants a few fruits and veggies to sustain nutrition.
My opinion about using coupons remains the same…coupons should be icing on the cake, not the be-all, end-all of your money-saving existence.
What do you guys think? Is extreme couponing worth the hassle in your experience, or is it better to cut back in other areas of life? I’d love to hear from those of you who have success with coupons on a regular basis.
And don’t miss tomorrow’s guest post on the Thrifty and Nifty Series, a little DIY decor fun!