Extreme Couponing on TLC is an extremely entertaining show, but paints an unrealistic picture of couponing for the average person. There I said it. I must admit that when the show first started, I loved watching the numbers on the cash register go from thousands to pennies. It really is great entertainment. But that’s all it is. Entertainment. Because then I started paying attention to what these people were actually buying. Okay. We have 100 bottles of Propel. Yes, I got those free that week too. I just didn’t order 100 coupons. We have a family that consists of 2 1/2 people. We don’t need 100 bottles of propel. Okay, then they got razors. Yep, those are FREE at Walmart all the time. I have a nice pile of them myself and have given away a ton as well. What’s next? Oh, the lovely Chinese Noodle Dinner – those are terribly unhealthy, not too mention not that great tasting. I used the coupons from my 4-5 newspapers I get weekly to buy my fair share and gave them to my brother in law. Are you getting my point here? We all can Extreme Coupon the way they do on the show, but why would you want to? Seriously, if a camera crew followed me around at the grocery store, nobody would watch. It’s quite boring. Sure, I’ve gone to the store and saved 70% off my bill with my coupons. Did I buy anything I needed to feed my family for the week? No. A typical grocery store trip consists of me saving around 30%. We buy organic milk (not cheap!), fresh produce, meat and other items that I just don’t always have a coupon for (ahem, that bottle of wine in my cart). With that being said, I save a ton of money on items like deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, floss, razors, etc. that I can afford to splurge on these other items at the grocery store. Not too exciting for a TV show, but it’s what works for my small family.
Here is a picture of my realistic “stockpile”…if you can even call it that. I have a nice stock of pads, liner, body wash, shampoo/conditioner, razors and floss up the wazoo, and a few other random items that we use. My food stockpile consists of whatever I can fit in the pantry in my kitchen. My cleaning supplies are disbursed throughout my laundry room, kitchen and 2 bathrooms. And that’s about it. VERY Un-Extreme! Do I save a ton of money with coupons? Of course! Don’t get me wrong…coupons are AWESOME and your key to managing a successful budget. You just can’t expect to get everything in your cart for free and expect to live on that.
Ways to Coupon the Un-Extreme way:
1.) Buy 4 newspapers each week. That way if something a great price or FREE with your coupon, you get 4 of them for free as opposed to just one. If it’s a product that you typically buy like diapers or cat food, for example…then consider ordering extra coupons that week. This is not extreme if it’s truly going to impact your weekly budget.
2.) Use your coupons ethically and legally. Is getting something free because you used an expired coupon or purchased a product clearly not permitted worth your integrity?
3.) Don’t expect to get an entire cart full of groceries for a dollar. It’s not realistic and will only make you feel like a failure when you cannot achieve this.
4.) Don’t clear the shelves. This is the perfect time to remember the golden rule. Take your share and no more. It’s common courtesy.
5.) Do start off small and stay small to avoid burn out. We’ve all done it. Bought 10 newspapers, clipped every coupon, organized, prepared, got a bunch of great deals…then “BURN OUT”. Just purchase what you need for your family or what you want to donate. Nobody needs a mini mart in their garage and you certainly don’t want to be featured on the next episode of Hoarders. 😉
Again, coupons are awesome and I think everyone should use them! What I wish is for everyone to coupon in an un-extreme way that saves you money without taking over your life.