Anyone who has seen the popular TLC reality show “Extreme Couponing” is aware of this wacky money-saving phenomenon. The concept seems simple enough: clip coupons, get organized, head to the grocery store and walk away with hundreds of dollars of groceries for virtually nothing. Extreme couponing is appealing, particularly for someone who is on a budget. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love free stuff? But the question remains: Is it all worth it?
When done to the extreme, couponing is a nearly a full-time job. But it’s not just the act of clipping all these coupons and getting them organized that can be stressful–extreme couponers are well aware that making one small mistake can cost them a great deal of money and derail their entire shopping plan. And don’t even get us started on the terror of having to watch your grocery bill climb into the hundreds of dollars when you know you have less than $50 to spend. It’s enough to get anyone’s heart racing.
The obvious appeal of extreme couponing is the astronomical amount of savings that can be had. But do you actually save all that much money in the long run? Extreme couponers need to buy paper to print out reams of coupons and stock up on newspapers to find the best deals. Extreme couponing also means buying products when prices are the lowest, so you may end up with excess inventory. If you live in an apartment, this could mean needing to rent storage space. Before you commit to extreme couponing, price it out to make sure it’s worth it savings-wise.
As we mentioned, extreme couponing takes up a great deal of time. First you have to gather all the coupons, then clip them, organize them and watch for sales. Once you make it to the grocery store, it could take hours to figure out which products to buy so you will save the most money. If the store doesn’t have what you need in stock, you may need to start all over.
Wants Versus Needs
In order for extreme couponing to work, you’ll have to buy in bulk, which brings up the question of your wants versus your needs. If you are able to find coupons for things you use on a regular basis, it may be worth it. But if you find yourself stockpiling things that you never would have purchased in the first place, it may be time to reevaluate.