Coupons are a great way to save money on the things you need for your family. But there is couponing to save and there is extreme couponing.
Couponing is where you use coupons with the sales and save where you can. However, extreme couponing is almost an Olympic sport of sorts. It is much more in-depth.
And, while it may sound amazing to get all sorts of things for free it is not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, extreme couponing is not a good thing at all.
What is extreme couponing?
Couponing is when you find coupons to use on the items you need at the store. You may find them in your newspaper or print them online. Then, you use those coupons at the store and save money.
Extreme couponing is the same thing – on steroids.
It too involves finding coupons but it is more than that. It is where you look at every item on sale at the store and find a way to combine the store deals, coupons, and other offers to get as many items as you can for free – or nearly free.
Extreme couponers are known to spend hours shopping each week and getting bags of items they may need (or even don’t need) for next to nothing.
It has been around for a long time but hit its peak in the mid-2000s, as the US headed into a recession. With people out of work and struggling to make ends meet they had to find a way to save as much as possible.
For many, that meant turning to extreme couponing.
The downside of extreme couponing
Saving money is great. After all, we should all do what we can to keep as much of our money as possible. However, that does not mean you want to take it to extreme levels.
As fun as it can be to get free items at the store, there is an ugly side to extreme couponing that many don’t talk about. The issues I witnessed first-hand during my years as a coupon blogger.
Hours of work for little savings
Clipping coupons is easy. But finding and building the deals takes time. You have to go through the ad and find the offer at your store. Then, search to find a coupon.
In theory, it sounds easy but it takes time. And that time has value. If you spend an hour searching and clipping to save $5 is it worth it? No. Not at all.
While there may be instances where you can save $25 or more during that hour of clipping but that is rare. Most people will not save more than $5-$10.
Coupon policies are tight
During the height of the 2008 recession, the offers were amazing! The coupons were plentiful as were the promotions. Shoppers noticed this and took advantage and stores took notice.
As a result, many stores were forced to change their policies. That limited the number and types of coupons. Some decided to no longer accept coupons at all!
Using coupons requires more review of the policies for each store before you shop so you know what to expect a checkout.
You buy what you don’t need
Saving money is great. But, if you are buying to save money then it is not.
Let’s say you have a coupon to save $3 on a product at the store. It is about to expire. Are you going to rush out and buy that item simply because you have a coupon or is it because you need it?
Coupons often lure shoppers into a false sense of saving. The truth is – if you don’t need it – don’t buy it.
Leads to waste
There are stories about shoppers buying 25 bottles of mustard – because they got it for free! But, were they able to use it before it expired?
Buying food in bulk can make sense. However, if it ends up in the trash can it was money wasted.
Healthy foods aren’t included
When was the last time you saw a coupon to save on apples or lettuce? Chances are it has never happened.
That is because coupons are not available for the fresh items you need. You may find them for canned and processed foods.
Sure, sometimes there are a few healthy items mixed in but the foods that you need (milk, meat and produce) don’t have coupons.
Don’t get me wrong, using coupons can make sense when used in the right way. But, spending hours clipping to buy foods you don’t need or will not consume, does not make sense.
Think twice before sitting down to spend two hours clipping. It may not be worth it after all.