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Extreme Couponing: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Although I’ve been clipping coupons from my Sunday paper for a while, I just heard about extreme couponing [3] a few months ago.  At first it seemed amazing that whole loads of groceries could be bought for less than $50, but at what cost?  I was surprised to hear about how much time extreme couponers spend planning each trip.  I personally only spend about half an hour each Sunday planning out the week’s menu with my husband and another half hour at the grocery store at the beginning of each week.  Here’s my personal view of extreme couponing: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Using coupons on things you would have bought anyway is a simple way to save some money.  I will never argue with that.  I’ve even used coupons to try out new items that my husband or I were interested in but not willing to pay full price for.  I try to only cut out coupons that we plan to use and normally only use about 10 coupons a month.  I save about $5 – $10 a month, which more than covers my 50 cent a week subscription to the local paper.  The 5 minutes a week I spend on couponing pays off pretty well in my opinion.  I can only imagine what extreme couponers can save, so I’ll call that “the good”.

The Bad

“The bad” part of extreme couponing for me would be the sheer amount of time it would take.  Based on the stories I have heard, an extreme couponer can easily spend 2 or more hours a week just cutting coupons, organizing them, and making their plan of attack based on store sales for the week.  Then it takes another half hour or more at each store to get in, grab what you have the coupons for, and check out.  That is at least 3-4 hours a week spent saving money on very specific items.  I just do not have 3-4 hours to spend on what would feel like a huge errand for me.

The Ugly

“The ugly” would have to be the amount of stuff accumulated from extreme couponing that couldn’t possibly be needed.  I tuned in to the tv show on TLC and saw a stockpile of over 2100 items that filled up nearly 4 rooms of a house.  I could not imagine ever wanting enough of anything to completely use up what amounts to the top floor of my home.   The stockpile reminded me of organized hoarding.  I just don’t see how that can be healthy for anyone.

My Take

If I did have an extra 3-4 hours a week and decided to become a coupon ninja [4], I hope I would donate the excess rather than using my home as a storage unit for more food than I will possibly eat before it goes bad.  I also don’t think I could ever see getting $500 worth of stuff for $15 as a good thing if I didn’t really want any of that stuff anyway.  For example, getting $500 of free frozen yogurt over time would be like winning the lottery for me, but getting $500 of toothpaste for $15 wouldn’t really blow my socks.  I much rather buy a full price tube of toothpaste every few months than store hundreds of tubes of toothpaste in my home year round.

What about you?  How do you see extreme couponing?

(Photo: iateapie [5])