Is Extreme Couponing REALLY a Good Thing?

Extreme Coupon-ers dumpster diving for more coupons (image:
I admit it, I've watched the new Extreme Couponing TV show- I've bitten my nails in anticipation as to whether the coupon-er did in fact succeed in getting his/her plan PERFECT and save eleven bajillion dollars on their eleven and a tenth bajillion dollar purchase.  And yes, I like a good coupon, I DO have a coupon organizer and I use coupons on a regular basis but I think there are some limitations to couponing that need to be spoken.

It seems to me like the show has set off a whole new wave of folks wanting to become "Extreme Coupon-ers" themselves.  And of course, after watching an episode, the challenge of acquiring things at the store, for virtually nothing out of pocket can appear tempting, but I think a lot of folks are neglecting a few key elements of the whole experience.

First issue, if you're really shooting to acquire a lot of products completely free, more often than not you are going to need to live in an area that has stores that double coupons- locally, I know of none.  When I was younger, Vons did, then they did but only on Tuesdays, and then they stopped.  I don't believe anyone has allowed coupon doubling in about ten years here, if I'm correct.

Second, you've got to consider the out of pocket cost and weigh it against actual need.  I think this issue is one that causes a lot of folks to accidentally overextend themselves financially simply to get that "awesome deal".  But that "awesome deal" may just be an extra expense in disguise.  I rarely use mustard.  My husband rarely uses mustard, and my munchkin, not at all.  If I already have a full bottle of mustard in my fridge, and I don't have mustard on my shopping list of items I need for the week's meals or activities- then I don't need to buy mustard, even if it only costs me a quarter (with a coupon)- because that quarter- is a quarter I could have saved.  Multiply this risky "deal catching itch" by a few "just because it was so cheap" purchases, and you're not saving- you're losing money.

Additionally, keep in mind the products coupons are usually available for may not be the products you want to use/consume.  Often, coupons are issued for prepackaged, highly processed foods (think Mac n Cheese, lunch meat, Easy Cheese) which are not great for us health wise.  Other times, coupons are for household and personal care items.  These coupons can be great- if you actually need/use the product.  Other times though, I find that store brands (e.g. Target's Up & Up label) are STILL cheaper than the national brands even with a coupon, so I usually leave the coupon behind in store (by the product so someone who must have national brands can use it) and buy the store brand.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE saving money, and I think coupons, when used wisely are great.  I just think with couponing, like any other financial activity, shoppers need to use their heads before reaching into their wallets.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more, Natali!! I've watched that show many times, and just about every episode, I've though, 'Do they really need 24 bottles of hot sauce? or What it the world do you need 150 boxes of couscous for?' Seems ridiculous to me to have massive stockpiles in your house of stuff! The only one I saw that I liked was when she had major savings and donated it to a shelter. I am like you... to me, it seems like store brand is always cheaper! We should waste our money on something we don't use just because its a good deal! I'm glad to hear someone else thinks these same thoughts! Great post! =)

  2. I Agree! Especially about the not needing items, or not WANTING the type of items that offer coupons. Al lthe processed food and the cleaning supplies. I'm picky when it come to both of those - cause I don't want the processed chemicals and I buy green cleaning products. Good post!

  3. I haven't watched the show, just previews..but I can imagine. I agree with what you said, and I also haven't seen any stores locally here that do any of that double-coupon thing. And all the bulk buying...things expire! Nobody needs THAT much stuff and yeah, pretty much a waste of the money that they ARE spending. It is just like Hoarders.

    Coupons are nice, but rarely is it something that you actually would be buying. I get coupons in the mail and 99% of the time it's something I wouldn't normally buy, so I throw them away. The only coupon I use every time is the F&E coupons. And we don't really grocery shop anywhere else.

  4. After watching several episodes of the show, my family and I have decided it's just another form of hoarding.

    I agree with the earlier comment about liking the lady who donated many of her items.

  5. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this school of thought! I couldn't agree with you all more- the families that donate- AWESOME. The families who are simply hoarding to hoard? I honestly think it's a disorder or a post traumatic stress reaction to very tight financial times.

  6. I have to agree as well; and I am a couponer. ;) I have my coupon binder, I search ads every week, sometimes I go to 2 or 3 stores in one trip, I take ads in to Wal-mart to price match. However, I don't buy things that I know we will not use. If something ends up being for free or super cheap, and I don't happen to need or want it, I may get it anyway but I give it away to someone else. I get a rush from getting a great deal. I HATE it when I see empty shelves of the items I'm trying to get a deal on too, b/c I know that while I'm only trying to buy 2 or 3 bottles to stock my own kitchen for a few weeks or so, there are others buying the entire shelf full, just to stock their basement and screw everyone else over. I primarily use my couponing skills for personal/bath items/cleaning products (yes, even the green ones!)/dry goods. I do get some frozen/processed foods, b/c seriously, we're all busy and I have two small children, and damn it, sometimes I feel like pizza and mac&cheese for dinner! lol ... but I do not load up on all the horribly unhealthy crap you can get iether. There are definite pros and cons to couponing... and I try to use the pros to my advantage. I just think the rest of the country needs to treat the process with the same respect.


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