Extreme couponing has become quite the craze and there’s no denying there can be significant savings to be had; but at what cost?
This sounds like an oxymoron – but depending on the circumstances, couponing can come with a hefty price tag. There are some great deals to be had out there and there is no debate that coupons can save you a bit of money but let’s closely examination this activity.
Couponing has evolved over the past thirty years.
It used to be that cutting out coupons that appeared in the local paper or the weekly flyers was the craze. Back in the 80’s those on a tight budget saving $2 or $3 on the weekly grocery bill was the equivalent of buying about 3 loaves of bread and milk.
As the years went by envelopes appeared in mailboxes by companies who put together coupons and deals for stores and manufacturers, and some of these are still around today. Stores started printing coupons on the back of their receipts (CATS) and some companies will send out a coupon if a customer emails them to compliment them on an item (or complain).
When the Internet came along, couponing became a way of life for many people.
There are no shortages of websites out there that cater to those who coupon and in some cases there is “extreme couponing.” For those who dedicate time to research and collect coupons a lot of money can be saved.
The drawback to this is that this is time taken away from another activity in order to search for a deal; in some cases, this is quality time taken away from the family.
There is also a monetary loss to couponing.
In order to get coupons off the Internet it requires a printer, paper and ink cartridges. If the coupons are for deals that are at several stores, then the wear and tear of the vehicle comes into this equation as well as the high price of fuel.
For those out to save a few dollars, they may end up losing money in the process.
You also have an opportunity cost of time.
Opportunity cost is basically the next best thing you could be doing instead of what you chose. The way I see it, rather than spend so much time seeking out the best coupons, you could be working on building a side business of your own or even working part time at a local retailer.
Extreme couponing focuses on lowering your grocery bill while instead, a person could use their time to increase their income.
And then there’s clutter.
A great deal isn’t so great if it takes up valuable space in your house or apartment. I don’t see the point in 50 boxes of mac & cheese if it creates visual clutter (which is a form of stress). Of course this is an extreme example, but we’re talking about extreme couponing.
When TLC aired “Extreme Couponing,” a reality TV show, some Americans watched hoping to learn a trick or two about how to coupon their way to saving money. What many people realized is that living a “coupon lifestyle” can be an obsession that creates stress. This show provides tips and ideas on how to save a couple of dollars here and there and this can have some advantages; however living life to the far end of the spectrum like some people on this show is taking a good thing too far.
The extreme coupon lifestyle requires countless hours of coupon clipping and research on the computer which can be laborious; and when saving money becomes that much of a chore then getting a part time job will put more money in the pocket than the savings to be had from couponing.
In the wake of this TV show came countless blogs and forums questioning the validity of what TLC aired.
Many bloggers are making accusations that fraud may be rearing its ugly head. This has also caught the media’s attention. In “Discounting coupon rules might get you in trouble, ” The Chicago Tribune writes, “The controversy has raised awareness that manufacturers don’t see coupon use as an “anything goes” game. The show has caught manufacturers’ and stores’ attention, and it could lead to policy changes.” In this news story, TLC spokesman, Dustin Smith stated that they are looking into the allegations of fraud. In regards to this show Smith stated, “It’s not an instructional or how-to program.”
I’m not against coupons.
I’ll use what I can to save a few bucks here and there. I’ll look through my mail and save what I think may be useful. But in general, I find that putting too much time into looking for great coupon deals isn’t worth it to me. My time is better spent elsewhere.
I also found that when I was more into using coupons, I would be stressed out keeping track of the coupons. I’d get bummed if I missed out on a deal I should have gotten. I don’t need more stress in my life.
Saving is good, but if it costs you more than the actual savings then it’s no longer worth it!
This all falls back to an old saying that if something is too good to be true – then it generally is.
Saving money via extreme couponing is exhaustive, time consuming and can be very stressful. Having a part time job two or three hours a week will put more money in your pocket and more free time to spend with the family, friends or having fun with hobbies. It seems common sense to choose the easier way to put cash in your pocket than to take an extreme route that holds no guarantees.