Working from home, I’ve been brushing up on a lot of television shows I wouldn’t normally watch. I find that working on the computer all day with a mix of TV leads to excellent production. And one of the shows I saw was an episode of “Extreme Couponing“. I’ve written a few posts previously about how I save money at the supermarket using coupons and buy one get one free specials but never to the extent of what I saw on this show. The question is, does extreme couponing really work and if so, is it worth it?
Before any trip to the supermarket, I use 10-15 minutes going through the weekly circulars, looking for deals and coupons. I make a list of everything I need and try and figure out just how much money I will spend. On an average trip, I usually save around 25% of what I spend, so if my bill is $100, the savings at the bottom of the receipt usually says $25. When you consider how much time I’ve spent and compare it to the amount I’ve saved, I think I do a bang-up job. At this rate, my time is worth around $100 an hour.
Extreme couponing, on the other hand, is the process of taking hours and possibly days to compile a massive amount of savings, 25 cents at a time. Not only does it require a massive amount of time, it also requires a massive amount of space. This is because you aren’t buying the things you need, rather things you need later. So when toiler paper has a $1.00 off coupon, you get 100 of them and store years worth of toilet paper in your closet. Extreme couponers take pride in paying $20 for $700 worth or groceries and supplies but in my opinion, it’s a huge waste of time and effort.
In watching these women (most couponers are women) hoard coupons, they have to find hundreds of newspapers, spend hours online and then spend hours more cutting out these coupons and organizing them for their shopping experience. When all is said and done, you’re talking a few dozen hours, simply to save a few hundred bucks on food you probably don’t want to buy anyway. There comes a point in this extreme couponing processes where it’s no longer a frugal thing to do and it becomes cheap. No wonder the folks at TLC call this show extreme.
The next time you’re headed to the grocery store, keep these tips in mind and you’ll maximize your savings:
- Check online for generic coupons on everyday items like cereal, toiletries and dairy products. Most manufactures offer up to $1.50 off these items and all it takes is a quick Google search to save money.
- Grab the circular for the store you’re shopping at and take a quick glance to see whats on sale. The circular can usually be found in the front of the store and even though most supermarkets display sales next to items, some do not.
- Pay close attention to what is on sale. When items are marked “5 for $5”, that means they are $1 a piece. There is no need to buy five so don’t be pressured to do so. On the other hand “buy one get one free” means just that, so make sure you get two of the same item.
- Ask the checkout cashiers for any good deals the supermarket is offering. They know better than anyone where the good buys are. Don’t be shy.