Thursday, January 16, 2014

Coupons...Extreme Couponing?

There is a television show in America called "Extreme Couponing."  My first reaction was, "Who is going to watch a TV show about clipping coupons?"  Curiosity got the better of me.  I watched it the first time, and then the second...and so forth, and so on.

There are several themes that reoccur in this program.  Many of the "Extreme Couponers," have faced serious trials in their lives, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, etc. etc.  Their reaction hasn't been to lie down and give up.  Instead they discover that they can purchase their food and household items for free or close to free by the clever use of coupons.

A statistic is given that only 3% of coupons are used in America.  After watching this show I think that number will increase.  My daughter has started to coupon.  She's finding out that it can be quite addictive to get even 50% off at the cash register.  On the other hand, couponing takes hours and hours of work.

Another one of these "themes," many of these people admit, "Couponing has become my life."  They have full-time jobs, they have children, they have husband, and homes,  but night and day they are clipping, and saving.  They are dumpster diving, and teaching their children to dumpster dive for those coupons.  One lady (who did not have a full-time or part-time job) admitted to spending 70 hours a week couponing.  SEVENTY HOURS a week?  That's like working two jobs.  Basically she sleeps, eats, and coupons...end of her life activities.  She has a ten thousand dollar stockpile in her house.  Yet she continues to coupon seventy hours a week.  How much is enough?  Is enough, ever enough?

One couple was paying $70.00 a month for a service that clips your coupons and sends them to you.  My question is, do they add that $70.00 a month to the amount they are paying at the cash register?  Then there are those couponers that no longer spend time with their small children unless it's diving into a dumpster.  In the long run are those savings worth the lack of time with their children?

I believe that one of the very most important principles in this life is balance.  I think couponing is a brilliant idea.  Especially if you are in a life cycle of difficulty.  I wish that I'd known about extreme couponing when my husband and I both lost our jobs within six months of each other.   Yet when you have a full-time job, maybe you could back off a little and use some of that precious time you are giving to coupons to caring for your children and husband in other ways?  Moderation, balance are important principles.  

There are couponers that do what they do and then donate their purchases to Food Bank's.  I think they are stellar!  What an amazing way to give to their community!  I loved one clever couponer's gift.  He purchased 100s of boxes of cereal.  He put them in the driveway for pick-up in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.  It was so lovely, I would hate to have taken it apart for the cereal contribution.

So what is my point?  Couponing can be an amazing method of saving money.  One couple coupon so that they can go on a cruises.  They saved $500.00 that they would have spent on groceries and used it along with money from their savings account to purchase a cruise for the husband's 40th birthday.  BRILLIANT!

On the other hand, couponing can lead to hoarding.  It IS addictive to be able to shop and purchase things for next to nothing.  I stood at the register when my daughter's couponing saved us $200.00 on a purchase.  It was a very SWEET moment!  Yet, how much is enough?  I shuddered when one lady purchased hundreds of a product that she knew that she and her husband would never use...just because she had a coupon for it?  She was not planning on giving the item to charity, she was just adding it to her stockpile.

Remember balance and moderation folks, don't spend all of your life in couponing, but DO stretch your family budget through this method.  Well, that's enough of that post...excuse me, I'm going to go clip coupons!!

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