Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Okay, so apparently this new craze of extreme couponing has come upon us. I watched the special on TLC that followed four extreme couponers and have now seen a couple episodes of the regular TV show that came from it. And I have to say that I see several flaws in this idea.

First of all, let me start off by saying that I would LOVE to get, say $600 worth of groceries for $2. Uh. yeah. Who wouldn't? And just to clarify, yes, I am an avid coupon user (I average $25-40 in coupon savings per big grocery trip, which I consider a pretty decent savings), and I think I have only paid full price for maybe two children's clothing items since my daughter was a baby. I love to shop the sale rack, and I'm pretty dang good at catching the sales on kids' clothes, as a matter of fact (as well as my own clothes). I also like to catch good deals at yard sales and of course am in love with thrift stores and the like. This said, so that you know I am not one of these "must pay full price or it's not worth anything" people. I don't even think I know any of those...

Okay...but why I think this extreme couponing thing is not as easy as they make it look...

1. The freebies. Well, they aren't free, actually. Most of these people subscribe to many different newspapers or coupon clipping services, which cost money. And they scout out the sales and wind up going to grocery stores sometimes 3 or 4 different times a week to catch what's on sale where and when. Uh. I don't know about you, but gas is high where I live. That DOES count. And don't forget about the storage. One lady had 4 freezers...that most certainly has to add to her monthly electric bill. Now, while they may still be coming out better than if they had bought them outright, my point is not that it's a bad deal. Only that it is NOT free, and I kinda' get tired of them saying so.

2. Most grocery stores do not double coupons, which is key in extreme couponing. I only know of one around here that does it...I just recently learned this, so I haven't tried it out. And naturally, it's not next to my house. So more gas.

3. The TIME. Now, to those people who say "I don't have time to coupon..." I have to say, uh, yeah, you should. I usually spend about an hour or two (that's including the many interruptions of having children coming and asking me questions or trying to take over the mouse for me. I could get done a lot faster if I was alone.) to get enough coupons online to save me what I mentioned above. Most certainly worth it. But time is worth something, and some of these people on the show spend WAY more time than that scouting coupons. One woman worked 40 hours a week and said she likely spent 30 hours a week couponing. UH...I'm not sure where she figured in time to relax or play with her toddler. A free can of spagetti sauce isn't worth THAT to me. Not even 20 of them. And don't get me started on the dumpster diving...

4. No brand loyalty. You can't POSSIBLY have brand loyalty and extreme coupon. You have to take any coupon you get and double it whenever that brand goes on sale. Now, I, by no means, have to have the most expensive product, nor do I have any problem buying the cheaper store brand ON SOME ITEMS. But there are SOME things that I like MY brand and do not want any other imposter in my home. Like Heinz ketchup, for example. Were I to bring home a store brand, my family (including myself) would revolt! And makeup. Again, I cannot always just buy the cheapest. For example, Maybelline and my face just don't get along so well. And when I do find something I like a lot, I want to buy THAT item, not risk buying up 20 of something I might not like. Also, I worry that manufactuers will stop offering as many coupons with the rise in number of extreme couponers, who have no brand loyalty. shrug. Let's hope not.

5. Storage Space. I am NOT giving up a room or building on an addition to hold my "stash." I do have space in my closet for some overage that I've bought on sale. As I told you, I do shop sales, and I do like coupons, and if it's something I KNOW I use, then sure, I'll buy 3 or so. 3...not 30... Though I do want another freezer for things such as sales and summer produce. I simply have an additional fridge (a must for a family of five who all are in love with milk), and I want an actual freezer, as we pick lots of berries and stuff in the summer, and it's hard to have room for all of that, plus the normal grocery stuff...and homemade ice cream. Yum. :)

6. Does anyone need 300 deodorants? I mean, really. Who sweats THAT much? So many of these people on TV have hundreds of items. (One woman worrying because she had ONLY 10 hand soaps left she bought a HUNDRED. "Why not? It's free.") about sharing your wealth, not becoming the next person on the other show, Hoarders. I did finally see one couple who couponed for what they needed and the great excess they had gained, gave to charities and their church. Now, THAT's a reason to get 100 soaps. To help people. One woman in particular, I think would have had a fit had someone taken away ONE of her "free" candy bars. She was even mean to her husband who was helping her! And no one mentions how a lot of this stuff will, indeed, go bad before you can use it, even if you are rotating your stash. Unless you plan on eating noodle meals EVERY day.

7. Nutrition. Anyone looking at what those people are buying? Candy bars, Cokes, noodle meals, fatty frozen dinners...I did see some spagetti sauce, which could be considered healthy. But really... Notice, if you will, MOST of these extreme couponers they've shown are quite overweight. (No, not all, but many.) Convenience food should be a sometimes thing, not a daily meal. It's just not good for you. I am reminded of the show Heavy and how the nutritionist said you should stick to the outside aisles...nothing canned or processed. Hmm...a good thing to think about...

There are, of course, SOME good things.
No impulse buys, for instance, which can kill anyone's shopping budget. And teaching your kids about money and budgeting, which is always good. And having a small stash is certainly not a bad thing to have on hand. One never knows when something like bad weather (think hurricanes or tornados) can hinder simple things like getting groceries. Or just a month that has too many unexpected expenses. Gotta' fix the truck? Okay, well, we'll use our stash and back off on the shopping this month. But I don't think it should take over your life or house like it has obviously done in these people's lives.

That said, to each their own. I suppose it doesn't hurt me at all if someone wants to spend every waking moment clipping coupons and organizing spagetti sauce. :)