I’m not much of a couponer to begin with. But the whole extreme couponing thing has me somewhat baffled. I understand wanting to get a good deal on something. And I get that some people want to pinch their pennies in order to save money. However, I do think that there can be too much of a good thing. Besides, do you really need extreme savings to find financial success? Here are some of the reasons I just can’t get into extreme couponing:
Where Will I Put All the Stuff?
One of the characteristics of extreme couponing is stockpiling. In fact, if you want to be on TLC’s show, Extreme Couponing, you have to have a stockpile of a certain size. Some of these extreme couponers fill rooms in their homes. If they have a small amount of space, the items go in places that are visible to visitors. I’m not a big fan of clutter, so having a stockpile confronting me every time I turn around is not my idea of a good thing. Don’t get me wrong; I think a certain amount of stocking up is important. I have home food storage in my pantry and crawl space. But I wouldn’t say it’s extreme.
Where’s the Food?
Another reason I have trouble with extreme couponing is the lack of food. You don’t usually see coupons for fresh produce. Instead, food coupons are for pre-packaged meals. While I like to get the coupon for the antibiotic/hormone free chicken we use, I’m not excited about stocking up on frozen meals high in sodium, refined sugars, and fats. I’d rather use fresh ingredients. I saw one contestant Extreme Couponing with a cart full of Gatorade and soda. If I preferred Gatorade and soda to water and milk, extreme couponing would be for me. Since I like to cook with fresh ingredients as much as possible, I’ll save money by gardening and by planning my meals around what’s on sale during the week.
I Just Don’t Want to Take the Time
I’ve talked to a couple of people who have tried to the extreme couponing thing. Some can get it all done in 12 to 15 hours a week. Others spend 20 or 25 hours a week. By the time you comb the newspaper, Internet and other sources for deals and coupons, make a plan, and then visit multiple stores during the week to get all the deals, I’d guess most people spend more than 20 hours a week. That includes driving time (and sitting in traffic time). If you can save $1,000 in a week with the help of extreme couponing, you essentially make $50 if you spend 20 hours a week. That’s really not bad at all.
However, do you want to spend that 20 hours extreme couponing? Or doing something else? You could start a business, or develop some passive income. It might take a while to get things going, but you could potentially make more than $50 an hour with the right business model or passive income model. My personality is one in which I would rather earn more than pinch pennies. I look for good value, but I’m not overly concerned about getting the cheapest thing all the time.
What about you? Do you think extreme couponing is worth it?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.