If you’re not familiar with what it’s all about, basically these people go to the grocery store, buy a ridiculous amount of groceries and get their haul for next to nothing after their coupon discounts are subtracted. There is a lot of drama and sweating involved in the shopping trip, because god forbid one of these people has to pay retail price for a can of beans! They then go back to the couponer’s house where the supermarket hero shows off their “stash” where they have a basement full of excess groceries all neatly organized.
To most people watching the show this sounds great. “I can get $800 worth of groceries for $10?! Where do I sign up!” Personally I’ll pass. Here’s why…
1. The Time Commitment
To get the discounts the people on this show are getting you need to devote hours and hours to collecting coupons, researching sales and timing when stores are “doubling” the coupons. Not to mention the actual time spent at the store. Grocery shopping becomes a full day event, in one episode a woman spent 5 hours just at the checkout line! Many people on the show describe it as a “full-time job”. I don’t know about you but if I’m going to devote that much time of my life to something I want a little more than $500 off a monthly shopping trip as the result. If you’ve ever taken an accounting class you’ve probably heard of an “Opportunity Cost” which is the cost of passing on one opportunity to pursue another. So sure, you can spend 10-20 (or more?!) hours a week clipping coupons and researching deals in order to save a few hundred bucks. Or you can use that time researching investment opportunities, taking a class that will help you further your career, or even trying to turn one of your hobbies into an income producing side business.
2. The Space Commitment
I joked to my girlfriend during one of the shows that the only difference between these extreme couponers and the people on “Hoarders” was how neatly they organized all their junk. Every single one of these people, without exception has a huge stockpile of groceries in their house. Some of them have turned their basement/garage into a warehouse of sorts. Others simply cram excess goods into closets or any other available space in their home. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live among a stockpile of cereal boxes and a lifetime supply of toothpaste just because I could save a few bucks on it all.
3. The Emotional Commitment
Extreme couponers eat, drink, and breathe couponing. I don’t know if it’s just for the show or not, but the emotional stress these people put themselves through watching their order being rung up is scary. Its much like a gambling addict watching a football team line up for a field goal they need to make in order to win a bet. One woman on the show was nearly in tears because she thought she lost a coupon at the register. Just because these people are saving money doesn’t mean it’s not an addiction. I’m not a doctor but I don’t think being addicted to coupons is much healthier than most other addictions out there.
4.The Health Factor
Lets face it the food you get coupons on isn’t the food you should be shoving into your body. Unfortunately they don’t give you coupons for heads of lettuce or organic strawberries. They give you coupons for sugar loaded cereal and frozen pizza, and no one should be buying 50 of those at a time. There is a reason you can have a basement full of the food you buy with your coupons. Its loaded with chemicals, preservatives and other junk that isn’t especially good for you.
5. The Respect Factor
- Being an extreme couponer isn’t going to make you any friends at the store. From the fact that these people are buying much more than they actually need; Often clearing the shelves of a product, making it unavailable to other customers. To the fact that you’re crushing that poor cashier’s will to live when you roll up with your overstuffed trapper keeper full of coupons and your 5 shopping carts of groceries that all need to be rung in a special order to achieve maximum discounts. Then there’s also the bickering with store management over the terms of some of the discounts which seems to be very commonplace in this extreme couponing world. Life is too short to bicker over the discount on a can of cat food (it’s also way too short to be stuck behind an extreme couponer in the checkout line!).
Now I’m not saying that using coupons is bad, it’s not. You can get some good deals and save on products you buy all the time. But to take it to this level is completely unnecessary, and honestly a little depressing. The people on the show are obviously very smart, determined people, but I think they could see a larger benefit by applying those traits and skills to other areas of life.