'Extreme Couponing': Time vs. money
As satisfying as getting a huge haul of discounted frozen juice may be, how much time is spent organizing the trip and storing the product?
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.
Reality television shows are getting more and more "extreme." Whether it's families with enough kids to field a football team or people who tip the scales at several hundred pounds, it seems like the television-watching public is obsessed with any extreme. The first reality show was basically extreme living on a remote island -- remember the first season of "Survivor"? (Surprisingly, I've never watched a full episode of any season of "Survivor." Not sure how I avoided it.)
Well, the latest craze seems to be a show called "Extreme Couponing." If you haven't seen the show, it basically follows people who buy a ton of stuff without paying a lot of money.Post continues after video.
There's a lot of fake drama, as they talk about how they budgeted only $300 for groceries this month but the tally, before coupons, is much more. There's some fake worry as the cashier starts scanning coupons, with shots of the manager and other people standing around watching.
"Extreme" is not the right name for this show. It should be called "Excessive Couponing." "Deadliest Catch" is appropriately named -- people die up there. The couponing on the show is not extreme; it's excessive.
As for the savings, I'm all for saving money, and couponing is a fantastic way to do it. But let's not forget that couponing takes time. It can take a lot of time if you aren't efficient at it and aren't as organized as some of the people on the show.
It takes time to organize the trip, make the purchases, and then take your haul back home to stack in your pantry/extra storage space. I don't know how long it takes, but as satisfying as getting a billion cans of frozen juice may be, how much time is spent organizing and storing the product?
I was also bothered by the faux drama. Anyone who does couponing like this knows exactly how much it will cost them out-of-pocket. You don't put 80 bags of croutons into your cart and not know that each one will be free after you scan the coupon. There are entire websites and subscription services devoted to telling you where to get the coupons you need and what stores to go to for maximum savings. You'd never pack your cart without knowing the end result.
Many things in life involve this trade-off between time and money. When it comes to changing the oil in your car, you can either spend an hour-plus to do it yourself (including buying the oil and filter, changing them, disposing of both, and cleaning up) or you can roll into a quick oil change shop, wait 15 to 20 minutes, and be out the door after paying a $50-plus (or perhaps less) bill.
As for the people on the show, kudos to you. You have serious organizational skills and you deserve to benefit from it.
Have you seen "Extreme Couponing"? What do you think of the show?
More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:
This show just portrays couponers as crazy hoarders. Not all of us are like that. I sure wouldn't want to feed my family 35 bottles of maalox, 100 boxes of yakosbi noodles, or drink vitamin water constantly. I have also seen how this shows HURTS regular families trying to coupon just to get by. Stores are changing their policies making coupon usage more strict, and limiting coupons
I coupon realistically and help others to do to the same. If you feel like checking out a real coupon just look for saving with wendy!.
If you have that much extra space in your home to store all that junk, sell your home and buy a smaller home. The ROI will be through the roof better. Using coupons to buy what you need when you need it (or maybe a month early to get the expiration date) is cool. Buying a lifetime supply is just stupid!
This show disgusts me because 1) You never see these people donating (at least) some of the food they purchase- I mean seriously, how may bottles of mustard do you need? and 2) The coupons they are getting do not go towards the purchase of healthy food. Most of it is processed junk that people don't need anyway. I'd be interested to see exactly how much food goes to waste and gets thrown out?
It's the same sort of gluttonous behavior I see everyday - overweight and unhealthy young people, on cell phones, eating their Big Mac's and drinking their Big Gulp's.
We have a local lady who does this type of thing - except that she does it to get supplies to send to our troops overseas - it's amazing how much they appreciate someone like her!
There was another local lady who set up a website to track local sales and coupon flyers, and she encourages people to get free stuff to donate to the local food pantries.
My wife and I watched one episode and thought it seemed rather excessive. And, unless you have a lot of time to give to it, it won't work that well; and if you do... maybe just get a job?
Coupons and saving money is GREAT!!!!
However, I have 1st hand experience with extreme couponing before it was *in* (we're talking 6 - 7 years ago). It can be truly truly time consuming. You feel like your life revolves around it. Keeping track of coupons, trying to buy certain coupons (yes, people buy coupons), going through the weekly ads, going through the message boards of coupon or savings sites, developing a strategy to stack coupons along with the store saving card and literally mapping out a route of certain stores to hit.
The time and effort put into extreme couponing can literally be looked at as being a Full Time job. Seriously!
I still love love love saving money and using coupons but I'm not nearly crazed like I used to be. My life started to revolve around it too much.
The show never makes it seem like it's easy. The people stress, "This is my job".
A lot of them do donate, and/or give to their family members. Now some of the things they do, I've never been able to do at the stores I shop in because of the policies they have in place.
In general, stores don't lose money from Mfg coupons because they get reimbursed, unless it's doubled...or is a store coupon. Stores will stop/reduce the number of coupons printed when they start losing money - be realistic. So obviosly, they are NOT losing money, they even advertise along with their store coupons sometimes that a mfg coupon was recently printed that would reduce the price even further. I'll bet the drug stores never sold as much stuff since that show has started. Eventually, the list price increases, so it does hurt the non-couponer. Also, when you use your "reward" card, you are telling the store what and how much you buy, that is marketing data they would pay gold for, so a little savings to make you feel good about it...no problem! - We have been trying to coupon over the last few months, and have been doing good (not preparing for the next disaster) saving at least $100.00 a week, and yes, it does take time, and yes, we consider it a part-time job. It's also like a game, like a riddle, how to mix and match for the best savings, at least it can save you money in the end. As for making stores be more strict on their policies....oh well, now you can't cheat them, which you shouldn't have been doing before anyway.
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