Or, what I can think of it without having seen a whole show.
Which might mean that my credibility on the topic is pretty low.
I won’t be offended if you leave now.
So! A lot of people have been writing to me asking for my opinion on the Extreme Couponing show. It’s a pretty hot topic on couponing blogs, and I’ve read some good, sensible posts about it.
But since you all seem to want me to share my thoughts, here they are.
Actually, first I have a thought about reality TV in general.
A while back, I read an article about how we love reality TV because it feeds our pride. Reality TV is about people who are, well, extreme, and since most of us aren’t extreme, we feel better about ourselves after watching it.
I’ve never been a huge reality TV fan, but after I read that article, I realized how right this author was. Whenever I do catch a reality show, I’m pretty much guaranteed to feel better about myself. I don’t have children by 5 different men, my house isn’t THAT messy, my clothes aren’t THAT frumpy, I’m not THAT out of shape, I’m not THAT stupid with my money, and so on.
Then I feel a sense of superiority, which is bad in and of itself, but that sense of superiority can make me more blind to the faults that I do have.
So, I’ve concluded that reality TV is just not healthy for me, and so I haven’t even watched any YouTube clips of the Extreme Couponing show. I already know I’m not an extreme couponing kind of person, and watching the show would probably tempt me to feel disdainful about people who shop that way.
Now, about the actual couponing! I’ve written before about why I’m not a coupon queen and I also shared my thoughts on the shopper who spends $4/week to feed her family. Those posts will give you a pretty good summary of my thoughts on couponing.
I don’t necessarily think that being way into couponing is wrong, but it can get into iffy territory.
There are a number of ways to be an unethical couponer by doing things like:
-buying coupons (that’s illegal)
-using coupons on products other than the ones they’re intended for (like using a Raisin Bran Crunch coupon on regular Raisin Bran)
-using coupons that are expired (this is generally only allowed on military bases overseas)
-using multiple addresses to send in multiple rebates
-using decoding to find coupons that work on any product (sometimes coupons are coded in such a way that they can basically be used like cash).
Also, I think it’s pretty clear that manufacturers do not intend for shoppers to have sixty bazillion copies of each coupon…the fine print on the coupon says it’s wrong to sell them and most even say that it’s wrong to transfer the coupons. So, I wouldn’t feel comfortable utilizing coupon clipping services, even if they charge a “clipping fee”, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying coupon inserts either.
Aside from ethical concerns, I personally am not tempted to go the extreme couponing route for a number of reasons.
1. It’s not worth my time
I spend $400/month to feed my family of six, so even if I managed to coupon so well that I got all our groceries for free (and to do that, I’d have to seriously compromise the quality of food that we eat), the net pay for my time could never be more than $400/month. That, to me, is not worth spending hours clipping coupons, buying coupons, and making a multitude of shopping trips.
I know these extreme shoppers come away with $1000 of groceries for free, but I wouldn’t consider that to be a $1000 savings for me. I just don’t see how I could justifiably say that I was saving any more than I’m already spending.
2. There aren’t oodles of coupons for products that I buy
I prefer to buy a lot of plain groceries, and those don’t tend to have high-value coupons. Bare-naked produce, cannisters of oatmeal, milk, flour, and other such foods aren’t the type of products that manufacturers like to “push” with coupons. Plus, I’m trying to buy more local, sustainably produced food when possible, and the Sunday paper sure doesn’t have coupons for groceries like that.
3. I like me some generics
Buy generic products is so simple and fast, and I’ve been quite happy with most of the generics I’ve purchased, especially at Aldi. Couponing takes time, effort, planning, and requires a stockpile, but generic buying just doesn’t. Love that simplicity!
4. Couponing is not the only way to reduce a grocery bill.
If you’re wanting to save money on your groceries, but you feel like extreme couponing just isn’t for you, take heart. It is possible to maintain a reasonable grocery bill without resorting to becoming a crazy couponer.
Since I don’t want to make this post ridiculously long, next week I’ll post some tips for spending less on groceries without resorting to extreme couponing.
I’m sure some of you have seen the show, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What are your thoughts on extreme couponing?
Today’s 365 post: Fancifying yogurt smoothies
Joshua’s 365 post: The Ellwood Elephants and the Blue Explosion