Extreme Couponing -- How Far Is TOO Far???
My answer? Yes, it's definitely possible to spend pennies and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars ... But only if you are prepared to do a number of things that, quite honestly, I don't really personally believe in doing as a couponer.
Couponing is great, and all of you know how much I love it. And we all live for seeing those savings on the bottom of our receipts. But how far is too far, really?
In my opinion, here is when you know you've taken couponing just a little too far:
- You're spending a good portion of your day-to-day life going dumpster diving, going through other people's recycle bins, or paying quite a bit of money out of pocket to collect 10 to 20 copies of the Sunday coupon inserts. (20 newspapers would cost $40 - that's almost my entire grocery budget each week.) In order to have insane savings, you have to literally have this many inserts.
- You're running out to buy printer ink and paper every week, to re-fill the 5 printers of the 5 different computers you have (so that you can print 10 coupons - print limit of 2 per computer!). Let's think about the costs of this!
- You have decided against a well-rounded, wholesome grocery trip each week that includes plenty of ingredients for meals, fruits, and veggies (of course, in addition to all of the pantry, canned, and frozen items that you get for free after coupons). Rather, you will now only buy items that are either free or generate overage. In this way, you are able to rejoice in seeing on your receipt that you spent pennies or a couple dollars in order to save hundreds of dollars. That's nice and all, but what are you going to eat this week???
- You're constantly fighting with cashiers and managers, demanding your way, and basically giving couponers a terrible name. (Which in effect makes it awful for the rest of us out there. Why do you think there are such strict coupon policies at some of these stores?)
- You're insisting that a store manager PAYS YOU CASH MONEY for the groceries you just bought. *Not Cool* I don't know how much I can stress this. People, if you are lucky enough to shop at a grocery store that allows coupon overage, at least be kind enough to grab extra groceries to cover it. Don't allow your bill to go negative and then demand to be paid. That's ridiculous and absurd. Think I'm kidding? People do it all the time.
- You're literally wiping out entire shelves of items, just so you can gain overage or stock up on a year's supply of free ketchup. Again, not cool! Ever think about saving some for the rest of us eager couponers out there? I have both seen and heard of couponers who will ask a manager to go to the back and bring out every crate of tomato sauce that they have - all 200 cans. Again, come on. To me, that is not being an ethical couponer. Help out your fellow couponer! Leave some for everybody else. I don't know about you, but nothing is more frustrating than driving up to CVS or Walgreens only to find that the shelf is completely empty of what you were planning on getting for free that week with coupons. Remember that awesome FREE Purex deal at Walgreens recently? This blogger that my reader sent me a link to...yeah...she bought TWENTY bottles of it. Needless to say, she wiped out shelves at 3 stores to get the deals, and left them empty for the rest of the couponers out there! Be considerate...
It's nice to see that savings to spending ratio on your receipt, but abusing the system is not what it's all about. Use your coupons wisely. Discover your priorities and what matters most to you.
What matters most to me is saving money with coupons, having a decent savings to spending ratio, staying under my designated grocery budget, getting most of my household items for free at the drug stores, giving away as much as I can to others, and planning nutritious/wholesome meals every week. If I'm doing that, I'm okay. =)
Plus...aren't coupons supposed to save TIME??? When it's becoming time-consuming and making life harder, I would say it's time to re-evaluate!
Want a good example for comparisons? Nightline just recently did a contest with 2 extreme couponers. They gave each of them $50 to get as much as they possibly could with the money and coupons. In this video, I think Jill has a pretty good idea of using coupons how they're meant to be used. I have nothing against Nathan, but I think he's taking it just a little too far. Jill knows she could just as easily do what Nathan is doing, I'm sure. She is simply choosing to use coupons wisely, though. Notice the wholesome, nutritious, and even organic products she has in her cart. She's buying what she needs, and stocking up on the close-to-freebie items (but not in excess). She spends a good amount, and has a great savings ratio!
What About You: What are your thoughts on this subject???