I feel like you can’t live a frugal life and coupon without someone bringing up TLC’s show Extreme Couponing. I have waited patiently and finally the first season is available on Netflix. Some of the people are completely loony! Then again… so am I. I watched the show to see if I could pick up any tips or tricks. The good news is you definitely can! They could stand to go into more detail about some of the strategies, but they explain a few different ones in every episode. It also inspires me when I see families of 7 or 8 that have enough food in their home to sustain them for months.
I think the MOST heartwarming thing is that many of these people are teaching their children FINANCES! I am often shocked by the amount of parents that don’t teach their children anything about financial health and then consider their children “entitled.” If you never explained money, cost, or saving to children how can you expect them to appreciate what they have been given? Or not run a credit card right through the roof?
I do have some problems with the show though:
1.) I do believe that it’s a bit out of grasp for most people. If you don’t have a Kroger nearby and a newspaper fairy dropping coupon inserts into your living room for you, it’s not realistic. Once on the show a couponer said, “When people ask me where I get my coupons I tell them they came from God.” I’m paraphrasing, but they still don’t really EVER explain how to get 37 copies of the same coupon. A lot of these people buy coupons (which is illegal), hire clipping services (legal loophole), or mail away to companies using stamps. While these things aren’t expensive, if you buy a coupon for $0.50 that gives you $1 off, you aren’t saving the full dollar!
2.) Stockpiling is great, I am the first person to tell someone to buy a year’s worth of something if they can get a good deal. I say, “Get while the gettin’s good!” like it didn’t go out of style. But I am driven crazy when I see people with thousands of tubes of toothpaste because toothpaste DOES expire. It only lasts a couple of years. Which is usually fine for the person buying it one or two tubes at a time, but when you have a hoard of them, it WILL go bad. I know from experience, expired toothpaste isn’t pleasant. I knew without reading the label that there was something wrong (although the label DID confirm it!). I am all about being frugal, but don’t be greedy or ignorant about it. Donate things that you wont be able to use. Check expiration dates and be realistic about what you will need. The space in your home is valuable too!
3.) These people know they are going to be on the show, they prepare for weeks for the one trip, let store officials know, and have help from the crew as far as taking their carts through the store. I also don’t believe in counting things that will be donated as “saving.” I do enjoy donating things, but I wouldn’t donate $20,000. So if I get that much product free and donate it, I don’t consider it a savings. It’s more like enabling. I just don’t want anyone too get excited when they see the person on TV not even have to pay tax (you wont get out of tax at any store in IL, btw).
4.) These people spend up to 60 hours a week “couponing.” Rounding up the coupons, checking circulars, preparing the trip, and of course shopping. Well, this is more than a full-time job. Even at minimum wage in IL with a 40 hour work week you are looking at around $250. I don’t spend $250 a week in groceries, so even if I got that much in free merchandise, it still would not even out to just having a job. Of course, if employment isn’t an option this is a great alternative, it’s just waay too time consuming for me to consider it that much of a “savings”.