Extreme Couponing? 5 Reasons Why I’ll Pass.
It’s the latest, greatest (although that’s debatable) topic around the water cooler. A show called "Extreme Couponing" highlights people who buy hundreds of dollars worth of produce from the grocery store and pay for 95% of it with free coupons. (See also: 50 Best Deals and Coupon Sites)
I hear this all the time:
“It was amazing! The bill came to $894, and they paid like $12 after coupons!”
“Really? No way!!!”
“Yeah, I’m so doing this now!”
Now, is that true? Yes, it is. I have seen people walk to the counter with shopping carts full of stuff, and they only have $50 in their purse. They come out with change.
But here’s another truth. Your average shopper is not going to walk into a store with a bag full of coupons and walk out with their week's worth of groceries for a fraction of the price. Extreme couponing, like anything else that seems too good to be true, has a few catches involved. And they’re not small catches either.
1. It’s a Full-Time Commitment
You can’t clip a few coupons on Sunday and expect your next shopping bill to be 90% less. If that were the case, everyone would do it and most manufacturers would go out of business very quickly.
This takes a lot of time, patience, organization, research, and dedication. You have to stockpile hundreds of copies of the weekly coupon circulars. You need to know when things are going on sale and when the stores are doubling coupons. You need to know more about the products in the grocery stores than the managers of those stores. And even then, when you are that buttoned up, it’s not what you’d expect.
2. You Have to Stockpile a LOT of Stuff
All of these extreme couponing people, without exception, have filled their homes with mountains of products.
I saw a lady buying 77 bottles of mustard because she had 77 coupons for them. My family uses maybe two bottles a year. Yours may use four per year. They may use one every month. It will still takes years to get through them all. But every time they are featured in a coupon, the bottles come home. Does anyone need hundreds of bottles of mustard? I know I don’t.
One woman has a grocery store in her basement, stocked with hundreds of bottles of laundry detergent, ketchup, mouthwash, toothbrushes, and all sorts of other stuff. The rest of her family comes to shop in the basement for free. Great for them. But are you prepared to devote all of your storage space to products you never have a hope of using, just to save money?
3. You Become a Slave to Coupons
Imagine waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. You realize, to your horror, that you didn’t use a coupon. It’s double coupon day too! That means the store is actually paying you to take a bottle of Aspirin. So you drive to the store in your PJs and pick it up. Yes! A free bottle of Aspirin and 12 cents in change.
I, for one, am not prepared to give up my life to coupons. But this is what happens. It’s sad to say that extreme couponers are addicts. You just have to look at what they put into it and what they get out of it, plus the stress they go through if they don’t get a coupon or spend it.
Like any other addiction, that, to me, is not healthy. People who spend most of their time at the gym may look healthy, but they’re addicted to the rush of the workout. And that’s unhealthy, too. So just because they’re saving money, it doesn’t mean it’s a good addiction to have. The rush they feel when they see the register start chalking up the discounts is the same rush you see on the faces of people at slot machines. They’re hooked on savings, regardless of what it is they’re actually saving money on.
4. You Spend Hours at the Grocery Store
Hours and hours. Way more than an average shopper. And when the time comes to check out, you’re about to become very unpopular, because everything has to be checked out in the right order to get the maximum discounts. You may even have to split your order into separate loads to make it work. Life is short. Don’t spend it all in the grocery buying 58 bottles of shampoo.
5. You Are Taking Much More Than You Need
Here’s something that really got to me. On a recent episode, a woman discovered that she was basically being paid to take product out of the store. The double coupon meant that she’d get credit back to spend on other things. That part is smart.
But here’s the selfish part. She cleared the store of ibuprofen. Boxes and boxes of it went into her cart. Thanks to her, no one else was getting it that day, or that week depending on when the shelves are restocked. And that happens a lot with these extreme couponers. They clear out the shelves to take advantage of coupons.
What happens to all the stuff they take? Does it get used? Does it expire and get thrown away? Does it get given away? It’s just consumerism gone awry. By all means, get the stuff you need for cheap or free. But 77 bottles of mustard? 100 bottles of medicine? All the canned dog food in the aisle? It’s greed. Pure greed.
Yes, I know I will get naysayers on this one, but this is sickening in so many ways. Watching these people devote their lives to coupons, buying more than they need, and losing sleep over a few bucks, it’s madness.
I’m all for saving money and using coupons, but you can take things too far. This is just depressing.