I enjoy reading financial blogs as well as deal blogs.
What I find is that while financial blogs tend to argue that raising your income through your job and creating a side income is the best way to get ahead financially, many deal blogs argue that saving money, in part by using coupons, is the best way to get ahead financially.
Extreme Couponing Isn’t All It Is Cracked Up to Be
Several years ago, I was impressed to see a blogger share how she bought groceries with a retail value of $53 for only $3.67, but the cynic in me has taken over, especially after I watched an episode or two of TLC’s Extreme Couponing and watched how stressed out and uptight the couponers could get about finding the right deal, not to mention the time they were investing. I also looked closely at what they were buying—pop, chips, frozen meals, boxed food, and bags and bags of candy.
If you can get it for free, that doesn’t mean you should be eating it.
The Dangers of Eating Food Extreme Couponers Buy
Many of the foods that extreme couponers stock up on will cause health problems later in life such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
What they may be saving on food now may end up costing them just as much, if not more, on health care later.
Processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans. Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what’s been added, but what’s been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and ‘good’ fats. Combine that with additives, and you have a recipe for disaster.
There Is a Place for Processed Foods
For the critics among you who say coupons are a great deal and help people who otherwise may not be able to afford to eat, I agree, extreme couponing CAN help people who are unemployed or on a very tight budget.
Still, I would only recommend eating so much processed food if you would truly go hungry if you couldn’t coupon. This is not the case for most couponers.
Years ago our mothers and grandmothers were eager to use processed foods because it freed them from endless days in the kitchen where they used to have to cook every meal from scratch. I had a good friend growing up whose mother used to grow an extensive garden, can all of her family’s vegetables for the year, and cook every meal from scratch. Every Friday night she served frozen pot pies because that was her night to take a break.
Now, people eat frozen meals every night of the week.
You Can Eat Healthy Food on a Budget
We as a culture need to change our approach to food.
Eating healthy foods on a budget IS possible. Will you get the groceries for 99% off as some extreme couponers do? No, but you can still have a thrifty grocery budget and buy healthy foods.
Money Saving Mom recently shared how it would be possible for one person to survive on a grocery budget of just $25 a week. The meals she shares are more nutritionally dense than most foods you could buy for pennies with coupons. Even more interesting than her post is that there were 350 comments to the post, and many of those commenting shared how they too feed their family healthy meals for a low cost.
Don’t be fooled into believing that the only way you can reduce your grocery shopping is by using coupons and buying processed foods.
Instead, focus on the basics—fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meals that you make at home. If you don’t have time to make homemade meals every night, consider freezer cooking so you have meals ready to pull from the freezer or using your slow cooker. Just put the food in the slow cooker in the morning, and a fresh meal is waiting for you when you come home at night.
You’ll find that by focusing on the basics, you will save money AND feel better physically.
Sure, processed foods are handy to have sometimes, but don’t make those the staples of your diet, no matter how cheaply you may be able to buy them.