6 reasons to ignore extreme couponing
Maybe you get the product for free, but it comes with other costs.
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Money Talks News.
The height of frugality? Perhaps it's to legally obtain merchandise for free -- something for nothing. This is what drives extreme couponers, who have mastered the art of combining discounts on household products to eliminate some or even all of their cost. And it gets some of them on TV reality shows like TLC's "Extreme Couponing."
But as The Wall Street Journal reported recently, major retailers are now cracking down on this practice. So maybe this is a good time to ask: Was it ever really worth it? Even when you get a product for free, it still has other costs.
Here are six reasons why most people maybe shouldn't aspire to be extreme coupon collectors (or TLC reality stars):
Tip: Many people can make money with other activities in their spare time. Keep track of how much time you spend on this hobby and decide if it's actually more worthwhile than other opportunities.
Tip: "Free" is just another price point, and price should never be the only factor in your shopping habits. Post continues after video.
Go for bigger discounts. We have a saying in my family: "Pinch twenties, not pennies." Are grocery store coupons really the most valuable discounts you can find?
Tip: If you are going to spend your time searching for great deals, set your sights a little higher than 10 cents off a packet of tuna fish. Far more lucrative deals are out there, from "travel hacks" to a myriad of savings on the Money Talks News Deals & Coupon page.
Tip: Focus on the unit cost of each item. For example, each week I find that a different-sized container of the same brand of orange juice has a lower price per ounce. And check out "7 things you should always buy generic."
Tip: Be aware of anyone in line in front of you who has a huge binder with them. And if you do engage in extreme couponing, be polite and forewarn your fellow shoppers in line.
Tip: Frugality is important, but unless you've taken a vow of poverty, it's not an end unto itself. Never forget that saving money should be a means to a better life, not just free stuff.
While I admire the ingenuity and dedication of extreme couponers, I question the value of their pursuit. I have yet to be convinced that extreme couponing is how my family should be spending its leisure time.
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
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A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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