TLC has a new program called Extreme Couponing that has gained a cult following with both frugal people like myself, and with mainstream, non-coupon clipping America. Have you seen it? I have two words for the whole experience – train wreck! You know that you were thinking it too. If you haven’t seen it, watch the clip below for a reference point and then continue reading the rest of this article.
I watched one-half of one episode of this show in abject disbelief and alarm wondering how I could possibly get to that level of serious dedication and mental instability where saving money and stockpiling months, nay, years worth of grocery items could consume my entire my life and take precedence over the relationships that I have with my family. Spending time shopping at the grocery store is not my idea of a fun family outing, but maybe I’m missing something here.
Make no mistake, some of the individuals featured on TLC’s Extreme Couponing are no different than the ones featured on Hoarding, another TLC show. These individuals clearly have some form of OCD that compels them to jump into dumpsters to collect unused coupons so that they can clear out entire shelves full of the same item. I also find it kind of selfish that they do take home entire cartfuls of the same item and lock up a register for who knows how long.
Now, I’m a cheap girl. I’m certainly not above coupon clipping. In fact, I famously had a very organized coupon binder that I used to lug with me to the supermarket. I was the envy of some of the women in my family. So much an envy in fact, the someone swiped my coupon binder! I have my eye on my BF’s sister, but that’s between the two of us. My best shopping excursion with the binder resulted in a 60% saving off retail price. Ka-ching! But what separates me from the Extreme Coupon people? This did not consume my life. I did not spend hours at a time on it. I used to spend 30 minutes a week clipping and organizing my coupons and if it took longer than that it was because I was making my shopping list while doing it. I was also not buying groceries that would sit for months or years and I didn’t have to clear out the garage to make room for shelving for my groceries.
But that doesn’t mean that I’ve resigned myself to paying full price. I think that I might break out in hives and rashes if I did pay full price. I just don’t have it in me, especially when technology is so readily at my fingertips. How do I save money on every single thing that I buy? Simple, I follow a few easy rules that you can implement too. Here goes:
- For groceries I always check out Coupons.com and print out the ones that I will use on my shopping trip in addition to clipping only the coupons that I will use from my Sunday paper. No dumpster diving.
- I check out deal and discount code sites before making a purchase. In fact, I’m going to my cousin’s wedding this weekend and found a Nordstrom coupon that I used to buy my dress. Sites like Deal Taker can save you some serious money. My fingers can copy and paste a coupon code faster than it takes to clip a coupon.
- I always use a credit card that either gives cash back or rewards points with every purchase. That is an instant saving without you ever having to lift a finger but the ones that will reach for your credit card anyway.
Before you run off thinking that I’m a downer on the whole Extreme Couponing thing, I am not. I understand the need to save money. Remember, I’m trying to pay off a six-figure debt, so every single penny that I save is certainly a penny earned in my little book. I just don’t think that it’s healthy for any one thing to consume so much of your thought space that so much of your time is devoted to just that one thing – especially when you drag your kids along with it. If you want to spend time clipping coupons, please, by all means do so. Send some my way too when you’re done.
Have you watched the show? How do you save money without going to extremes?