Thursday, April 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing

The internet is abuzz with talk about the new series Extreme Couponing I have talked before about how I coupon, but extreme couponing is a bit different; because its extreme.  We aren't talking about leisurely cutting some coupons for things you use everyday.  We are talking devoting days to shopping, cutting, printing, organizing and a saving of tens of thousands of dollars.  I have friends who extreme coupon.  I have seen their stock piles.  I know it works.  Back when I was a teenager, still living at home and we had no money my mother and I could make it out of a grocery store with a weeks worth of groceries for a few dollars.  I have done it on a small scale, I know it can be done on a large scale.  But while it seems like all well and good (some of these people saved $40,000 in 2 years) there are draw backs.  I know, what could you possibly have draw backs with that kind of savings.  I would ask, when you are doing something extreme how could you NOT have draw backs?

1. I think the most obvious would be space.  I don't have space for things in my house the way it is.  And I know lots of other big families face this dilemma as well.  I could simply not imagine having enough toilet paper stored for 2 years when I can't even find the space for 2 weeks worth of tp.  No seriously, if someone has some ideas on how to keep my tp safe so I can buy more and not have this overwhelming fear of running out, please share.  Not to mention if you have to move you would have to bring all that stuff with you.  So if you are prone to moving extreme couponing might not be for you.  Not to mention flooding or earthquakes, I can't even imagine THAT mess.  

2. Recalls.  The last few years have seen recalls on a scale I can't ever remember happening.  Everything from peanut butter to spinach and even formula.  Its bad enough when you have 2 jars of peanut butter and a box of nut bars that have been recalled, I can't imagine dealing with 30 or more of those things. 

3. Allergies or dietary restrictions.  Imagine having enough of a certain food to last you a year only to discover 2 months into it that you or your child has an allergy to one of the ingredients.  Dietary restrictions can include those for health or religious reasons.  Gluten intolerance, passover, Diabetes, high cholesterol, becoming kosher, or just trying to eat a better diet are all reasons that would preclude many items from being stock piled.  Right now we are in the processes of getting rid of all the yeast in our house.  When Passover is over I can once again buy yeast products again, but only 11 months worth.  Because then next year I have to get rid of it all again. 

4. The shows I have watched talk about peoples grocery budgets and then show them shopping and sticking to that budget. But what I have not seen is fresh fruits and veggies.  Now, that might be part of a different budget or maybe they just don't show that since you can't get coupons for them.  But that would definitely throw off any budget that they would have. 

5. Garbage.  When you are buying lots of shelf stable goods you are gonna have lots of packaging.  Most can be recycled I imagine, but a good portion will end up in a landfill somewhere. Especially when one of the secrets to couponing is buying the smallest product for the smallest price, this leaves you with much more waste than if you were to buy 1 of a bigger item than 2 of a smaller one.  The dh recently noticed we are producing less recycling and no more extra garbage because we are using so much fresh food.  So I know it does make a difference. 

6. This is not really a problem of extreme couponing as it is a problem of personality: hoarding things you don't need now and may never use.  On one of the shows a woman had tons of diapers and yet had no children.  Shes thinking when she does she will be all set.  Expect you have no idea how many you will need in a certain size, you might want to cloth diaper instead or use a different brand, and your child might not tolerate those brand of diapers.  I think it would be a much better idea to donate those diapers to someone who could actually use them.  The one guy who made up care packages for the troops is a wonderful example of extreme couponing done right.  But personally knowing people who buy and buy and buy because they have the coupon even though they don't need it I know it can cause problems.   I don't think even the most frugal person wants to eat chicken noodle soup every day for 2 years just to not have to throw out expired soup. 

Couponing can be done right, you can avoid those pitfalls, but you have to be disciplined and smart about your purchases.  As much time and effort that is put into getting stuff for nearly free you can spare a little more so you can avoid some of these problems.  That said, I am upset dh forgot my coupon book ahead of his walmart trip after work.  It was sitting right out on the desk!

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