Extreme Couponing: The Pros and Cons

by Emily on October 3, 2011

If you have never seen the show Extreme Couponing on TLC, it is about families who turn $500.00 grocery bills into $5.00 bills through the use of coupons. Some of these families spend 40 plus hours a week looking for coupons in newspaper flyers, grocery store circulars, online and some even go as far as dumpster diving for coupons. Extreme couponers often accumulate a stockpile of food, beauty products and household goods that they store throughout their homes. Some of the extreme couponers can go years without purchasing items such as deodorant, laundry detergent, condiments and diapers. When watching the show, it is incredible to see the number of items purchased increase while the total amount of money spent is going down.

Downside to Extreme Couponing

Now armed with a background on the increasingly popular hobby, is this a technique you should use to save money? When looking at the hobby it seems that some of the drawbacks are locating coupons, time, storage of all the items and the kind and type of goods you can purchase. It seems as though some of the extreme couponers on the show, go to extreme lengths to save money; the average person is not going to dumpster dive for coupons or steal newspapers for homes that are in foreclosure, even in these trying economic times. In addition to the lengths extreme couponers go to to find coupons, the hobby is also very time consuming. If you have a full time job, it may be difficult to spend 20- 40 hours a week searching for coupons, searching for store deals, planning out shopping trips and then going on the grocery shopping trip. Also, the extreme couponers create stockpiles that can take over large living spaces in their home. Most people do not want to have a mountain high pile of cereal or baby wipes in their bedroom. Last, while viewing the show it appears that the extreme couponers do not often purchase fresh produce, dairy or meats. Often, they are purchasing frozen goods, because they cannot find coupons for fresh products. It seems as though the type and quality of food purchased with this hobby is limited.

Upside to Extreme Couponing

Although there are negative aspects to the hobby, there are also positive aspects you can utilize while grocery shopping, without going to the extremes. One tip from the show that you can use is creating a small stockpile in your garage, basement or pantry. When an item you enjoy is on sale, you can purchase multiples of the item and then store the item. This can ensure that you are buying that item only when its on sale and avoiding paying full price for items you use often or enjoy. One of the best tips to come out of this show is using actually using coupons. Do not throw away the coupons that come with your newspaper and instead look at the coupons in the newspaper and compare them to the sales offered in your local grocery store circular. You do not have to spend an absurd amount of time clipping these coupons. You can clip coupons while you are watching TV, or waiting at an appointment at the doctors office or beauty salon. By multitasking, you will not feel as if searching for coupons consumes your life, but rather you can save money while doing tasks you ordinarily participate in.

Additionally, you should join your local grocery stores customer loyalty program. These programs allow you to get instant savings on food products and household goods without clipping coupons. By becoming familiar with your grocerystores policy on coupons, you can achieve additional savings by purchasing items that are on sale in the store and use coupons you have clipped to purchase the items. Make sure you become familiar with your grocery stores policies, because some stores will not honor internet coupons, double coupons, will limit the amount of items on sale you can purchase at one time, and in certain states there is no expiration date on coupons. By familiarizing yourself with the store polices, you will save money and de-stress your shopping experience. There are multiple online coupling website you can use which will email you weekly or daily deals that you can print out and use at the grocery store. There are even e- coupons that you can send to your mobile device, that you present at the checkout and save money, without printing, cutting out and remembering to bring your coupons to the store.

If you do not see coupons in the newspaper, circular or online for your favorite products, you should write to the manufacturer of the product and often they will send you coupons, or even samples of the product for free. Always featured on the show, is the plan the extreme couponers lay out for each shopping trip. While you do not have to spend hours planning out where each item is in the grocery store and what is on sale, you can still make a plan on a smaller scale. Create a grocery list and note which items are on sale or items that you would like to purchase that you have coupons for. By simply highlighting or putting an asterisk next to the items on your list, you can easily remember that its on sale or that you have coupons for the product. Last, do not be afraid to try new products at the grocery store. Often, when a new product comes out, the manufacturer will offer promotions in order to get the buzz out on the product. By trying some of these new products during promotions, you can expand the type of variety of items you purchase while saving money.

Final Thought

Saving money on groceries and household products does not have to consume your life. You can see savings on your receipts each week, by using the simple tips and tricks above. Although you may not be getting your weekly groceries for free like those on the show, you will save money each week which will add up and allow you to spend money on things you enjoy. There is no need to be extreme, but simply using coupons will save you money and not take up too much of your free time.

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