Previously I wrote about my opinion about TLC’s Extreme Couponing. However, after getting more e-mails recently and reading some recent news articles, I thought I would address this subject again.
I really feel that Extreme Couponing is doing a disservice to people. They show people being able to buy a fortune of items for only pennies. This is NOT real! It is set up and staged. Stores do not allow you to come in and buy hundreds of items and have your coupons doubled for those hundreds of items. There is a limit of 20 at most stores. I have NEVER been to a grocery store that had 100 tubes of one type of toothpaste in stock. Have you? Those had to be specially stocked for the show.
So, really what they are doing is not possible. The stores are “bending” their rules, which they won’t do for people not on the show. AND, the stores are stocking up in preparation for this show. In “real life” that is not going to happen, and I think that it is causing people to expect too much.
I can see the appeal of getting $1,000 worth of stuff for $1. But, really where would that end? Who needs $1,000 worth of items every week? What would you do with 100 tubes of toothpaste that you bought in a week? Do you really want to be like these people? This reminds me of the verse. “”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19.
I used to use the word extreme couponer to describe myself (before the TLC show), but I now have been removing that phrase, because that is obviously not what I am.
Why would I want to wake up every single day and clip coupons? Why would I want to come up with a 50 page spreadsheet of things to buy for my family? Why would I want to fill up my entire garage with free items that I had gotten from couponing? That just seems a excessive and like hoarding to me.
Do I love a good deal? YES! Do I love getting items that I can use FREE? YES! But, am I willing to spend 40 hours a week on it . . . uh, NO! (Now, that does not include this blog, which I spend quite a bit of time on each week, but I view this blog as a ministry to help others.)
So, here is my take on a more realistic expectation . . .
When I first started couponing, I pretty much got every deal each week. I spent 2 hours getting my coupons ready each week, and I hit 4-5 stores which I could get into and out of in about 15 minutes each. So, with travel time, I usually shopped for about 2 hours one day a week. I cut my coupons while I was riding in the van, so that I wouldn’t take time away from my family, and really 2 hours a week for shopping did not seem too excessive especially since I was saving money to stay home with my kids. 2 hours of my week was more than worth it. For those of you that are just starting out with couponing, I recommend that you read my couponing for beginners post.
I usually saved about 90% on my grocery and toiletry bill each week. Yes, there were some weeks that I made a profit from shopping, but this was not EVERY week.
I had a goal for saving money. I knew that I wanted about six months worth of the items that we use most frequently stocked up so that I would not have to pay full price. This did save us a ton of money. I quickly stocked up on everything that we needed. I have a full pantry, a walk in closet that has a section for toiletries, and a 3 foot wide shelf packed with our freebies that is next to the pantry. Yay!! (Notice, I did not say that my entire garage, all of my closets, under my bed, all book shelves, and kid’s rooms were filled.)
Once I was stocked up, I stopped couponing for a month or two unless there was an incredible deal that I could easily do and donate to others. Why? I didn’t need to keep couponing. I had everything that my family needed for six months that I could buy with coupons. So, why would I want to keep piling items in my house?
I want a clean, uncluttered house. I don’t need or want 1,000 tubes of toothpaste. I make sure that I have enough toothpaste to last for my family (and extended family) plus I donate them each Christmas in shoe boxes. However, I don’t need 1,000 tubes of toothpaste for myself!
I have heard that there are people that feel like they should be able to do what these extreme couponers do, but that is just not a realistic expectation! AND, why would you want it to be?? Don’t be discouraged thinking you want to be like these people! You don’t! Even they can’t do what is being shown on the store without breaking the rules, and who doesn’t want to be honest?? Honesty is so much more important than a deal!
There is so much more to life than couponing. You have your family, friends and church. These things need to be a priority as well. I have taken off as much as six months from regularly couponing over the years and just hit the really great sales, and I have still saved my family a ton of money! Any money that you save is helpful.
Also, I have four kids. They need me; not coupons. AND, they don’t want to spend hours each week in stores. Here are a few tips for shopping with kids.
Don’t set your expectations too high. Everyone can not be like the people on the show. There are not enough items in the stores, the stores won’t break the rules for you, and seriously . . . do you want to spend up to 60 hours a week coming up with spreadsheets and clipping coupons? I can tell you right now what my answer is – NO!
AND, you don’t have to. When I am couponing and hitting sales each and every week, I can easily buy everything that my family of six needs for very little each week spending 2 hours cutting and 2 hours shopping. However, I don’t choose to do that every week. And, now that I am only maintaining my stockpile, I can easily clip coupons and shop in an hour each week. (Also, we raise the majority of our produce in our organic garden which means that I do not have to buy fruits and vegetables. We also raise our own chickens meaning that we do not have to buy chicken or eggs. This really reduces the amount of money that I have to spend.)
Could I probably only spend a few dollars a week on groceries and toiletries by spending an extra 40-50 hours. Probably so . . . Is it worth it to save that extra extra savings to me . . . definitely not.
AND, just so that you guys don’t think that I am perfect . . . there are plenty of weeks that I don’t coupon at all, and we might spend $100 on food and toiletries, especially when I am pregnant or have a newborn. I am not superwoman, and don’t have the energy to coupon all the time. There have actually been a couple of weeks that I have probably spent closer to $200 with 2 in diapers right now, and my ever diminishing diaper stockpile. However, I am happy with just doing what I can, and saving what money I can save without spending my life doing it.
The point is, that I could spend almost nothing AND therefore be able to do almost nothing with anyone . . . OR I could spend a little more and enjoy life. We have the money to spend right now, and I still have quite a bit, so I limit the amount of couponing that I do. If my husband (God forbid) ever was to lose his job, you’d better believe I would be hitting every sale, but for now I just do the best I can, and that is all any of us can do.
So, my whole point is, don’t compare yourself to others and have unrealistic expectations. Everyone is different. Any money that you save your family is a huge plus!! You can be a casual couponer and still save quite a bit. AND, after the show I might just want to start calling myself a casual couponer . . . or perhaps a “real” couponer.
What do you guys think? I would love to hear your opinion!
Sign up for my daily newsletter so that you will know about the latest coupons, freebies and deals. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter as well!