July 9th, 2011

YAHOO! NEWS: Why Extreme Couponing Often Fails

I just spotted Extreme Couponing making it’s second appearance on the front page of Yahoo! News. Grrrreat! 😉

Why Extreme Couponing Won’t Work For You
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In today’s environment, frugality has become trendy and shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” have gone viral with 2.1 million viewers tuning in for the premiere. The show depicts penny pinching as an extreme sport. For the stars of the TLC show, and for the customers who you see three carts deep in the supermarket check out line, this is no haphazard coupon clipping. This is an organized way of life. The concept is impressive, they may proudly hand over a handful of singles for hundreds of items, but is this level of couponing wise?

Time Commitment
Gone are the days of snipping a few interesting looking items from your local Sunday paper. Extreme couponing requires real commitment and organization. Before you even get to the store you have to start researching in newspapers and scourging online sites such as Coupons.com, RedPlum and the Grocery Game. Once you have cross-referenced your coupons you need to find a binder with slide-in slots and start filing them by item, expiration date and participating store. For the dedicated shoppers this gathering, cutting, printing and cataloging is a part time job taking up hours of each week. If you don’t have several hours a week to dedicate to the work you will lose interest quickly. It might become necessary to create a support network of friends, family and neighbors so you can swap coupons and share ideas.

Once you have your binder ready and you have checked your email account for any last minute sale specials, you are ready to start the business of shopping. In the world of extreme couponing this does not mean a single trip to your local supermarket. Pack a water bottle and ready yourself for a long journey. Many coupons are store specific so you will need to start jumping from one store to the next. Is the saving worth the extra time spent in traffic, gasoline used or minutes spent waiting for public transportation? Unless you have gargantuan calf muscles and are prepared to carry a heavy load, cycling may become difficult for this type of shopping.

If you are going to start extreme couponing, some serious storage is essential. Be prepared to look like you are preparing for the apocalypse. Depending on the size of your home, you will need to put up shelves in your garage or dedicate a closest to your loot. Extreme couponing may not be feasible for people living in small city apartments who don’t want to see canned goods taking over their living room. If you do have the space for storage then organization is key. You will kick yourself if you squeeze everything into a cupboard and then realize that half of your goods have gone sliding past their expiration date.

Are you buying what you want?
If you are dedicated to couponing then you will do your best not to deviate from the shopping list in your binder. The problems with this are threefold. One, most coupons are for pre-packaged foods rather than the freshest and healthiest food products. Two, many of the products that have coupons are new to the market; they are often not the tried and tested favorites and may have very little user feedback to attest to their quality. Three, in your determination to get a great deal you may not be buying goods that you either need or want. Some extreme couponers get around this problem by donating many items to food pantries. While this is both worthwhile and noble, the food pantries may not need the more obscure items that you are generously giving away.

The Bottom Line
If you are organized, have free time, have the room for storage, want to save money or feel compelled to donate offerings to food pantries, then extreme couponing may work well for you. However, if you are attempting to re-create what you have witnessed on television, will you ever be able to save enough? If the extreme couponers are the stars of this world, your efforts may seem pitiful in comparison. You may save money here and there but will you feel like a failure if you spend more than you save? With the increased use of coupons in the wake of the changing economy and the popularity of the TLC show, supermarket retailers are starting to revise their couponing policies to avoid driving themselves out of business. As our expectations for frugal shopping rise, extreme couponing may become increasingly difficult with only a few dedicated shoppers seeing the addictive savings that have driven the craze.”

We’d love to hear you what you think. Thoughts?

(Source: Yahoo! Finance)

Find more in : Extreme Couponing

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Julia July 9, 2011, 12:39 PM

    I agree with this article!! For people that have been couponing for a long period of time, this “trend” of couponing that the Extreme Couponing Show has brought about, is very frustrating. Since there are new couponers trying to coupon to the extreme, companies and store employees are getting frustrated at customers using coupons when they shouldn’t, trying to use coupons that are fraudulent, etc. Therefore, all this new trend is doing is making it harder on the couponers that were here before this show. I don’t get mad at the companies or store employees, I get mad at the customers and people who are bringing this change about because of the behavior while using coupons.

    • Sharon Andrews July 9, 2011, 1:07 PM

      I get aggravated with the consumers who come in and clear off a stores shelf. I have started asking to speak to store managers and sending e-mails to corporate headquarters requesting the limit either the number of items allowed or the number coupons allowed per person, not per transaction.

      I got behind a lady the other day buying up all the crackers with coupons on the Bi-Lo fuel perks promotion. She made her purchase in 5 transactions. The manager agreed with me, but said her hands are tied by corporate.

      • Clarissa Smith July 9, 2011, 3:44 PM

        I absolutely agree with you. Was at a walgreens on a Monday and the store was wiped out. One of the store managers said people are coming in doing more than one checkout. There was one women who did 25 seperate checkouts. If stores don’t start changing there policies they’re going to lose alot of regular customers.

        • Miranda July 10, 2011, 1:32 AM

          My local Walgreens has set limits to 4 sale items per day but not to the # of transactions.

  • Tina July 9, 2011, 12:45 PM

    I agree also witht he article, but the problem we have in Nebraska with the EXTREME part of couponing we can’t do because nobody doubles or triples coupons here. Also, on the show I never see them paying tax for anything. I just boiught 500 dollars worth of stuff yesterday and after my coupons it was 285, but 30 dollars of that was tax, they never show that on tv.

    • Amanda July 9, 2011, 12:58 PM

      Iv often wondered that as well, Tina. ive been couponing or three years and hate all this attention on it. but i still dont see how they get around paying tax. even when ive got my $80 Target total down to $6, all the tax was there to pay. and at the grocery stores where they dbl Qs and get an item for free, you still have the tax to pay but they end up paying cents of a several hundred dollar total. something just doesnt seem right and all the ‘newbies’ although im happy for them saving money too, they think they can do whats on tv and throw fits at the cashiers when things dont go the way they think and then all the stores and employees look at everyone who uses Qs like we are all trying to cheat the system or something. its so upsetting . im just trying to help my family of 4 on a one income budget survive!

      • Miranda July 10, 2011, 1:34 AM

        I dont have to pay tax before coupons here in Kansas either.

    • Sharon Andrews July 9, 2011, 1:03 PM

      Some states only charge the sales tax after the coupons have been taken off. I live in NC and have been to Old Navy and not had to pay anything with the coupons I have.

      • Amanda July 9, 2011, 1:10 PM

        wow that would be nice! our tax is calculated on the pre-coupon total which sucks!

    • Debra T July 9, 2011, 1:04 PM

      Keep in mind some states don’t tax food and they are likely using “overage” as well.

  • lisa July 9, 2011, 12:46 PM

    I cuopon to save money on stuff I need and want. My strategie is to clip the cupons and if I can use onsomething I need and wasa planning to buy anyway then great I save money. If I wasn’t going to buy it then I am not, even if I have a ciupon. If only save 4 or 10 dollars each trip then I feel like a sucess!

  • Meg July 9, 2011, 12:53 PM

    As a fellow couponer, I love the tips I pick up from the TV shows and websites. I do not however stockpile my food. Because I receive help from the government, I only go food shopping once a month, so I shop wisely, using my coupons and saving a bundle. The coupons make me able to stretch my $$ just a bit more! If more people realize this is the way to go, it might make couponing seem less “crazy” to some people!

  • Barbara July 9, 2011, 1:06 PM

    After watching Extreme Couponing, I was inspired. Not to do what is done on the show, because I know that is unrealistic… but instead to make better use of my coupons and shopping trips to save more money. Thus far, I have been able to do that. On average I save between 55 and 75% during any shopping trip. I only buy things my family will use and never clear shelves. I have a stockpile of some food items and lots of toiletries that serve me well. The best success I have had from this is the feeling that I can shop at ANY store and save money, having to shop at one particular store to save money.

  • joanna ovalle July 9, 2011, 1:13 PM

    We don’t pay taxes on food here in Texas, but we do have to pay taxes on cokes and household items, I coupon and I give the things I don’t use to my mom and my sister-in-law she loves when i give her bags of items that cost me nothing!

  • roseanne July 9, 2011, 1:24 PM

    This won’t work in Canada. We cannot double, triple coupons. We just don’t have the coupons like they have in the U.S.A. I do alright though. I believe you can almost use a coupon for everything. Helps. But, you save one way and you have to spend another way. All even outs in the long run.

  • Rick July 9, 2011, 1:43 PM

    The show inspired me to do a better job using coupons. Before if I saved $10.00 a week, I was happy. After I learned how to shop sales and stack coupons, I switched to my local Publix store from a Walmart Super center. I’m still new to this, but now I am saving more than 50% each week with a very small stockpile of salad dressing and barbeque sauce. I shop with a menu and list to cut expenses even more, and put half of what I save in a casino cash Vegas piggy bank for our next trip to Sin City.

  • Stacie July 9, 2011, 1:50 PM

    I think the show is unrealistic but the show did inspire me to start using coupons and I have saved tons of money. I have a small stock pile of things my family of 8 actually use but have not gone mad. I have also donated stuff we have to much of so it has helped us and others.

  • Dianna July 9, 2011, 2:00 PM

    I agree there should be limits set and I don’t think you should be able to do multiple transactions if someone is in line behind you.
    I was a very “casual” couponer until I saw the show. I thought “I can do that!” until I realized how much work (time) it really was. I think that it is like any other “craze”. People will do it for a while then get tired of it. I can’t imagine the show going on to long. How many times can you watch people showing their stock pile, going shopping ,then putting stuff up. I have always saved a little ($1-$5) a week. Now that I know how to use them, thanks to sites like this ,I do much better with the same coupons and love getting a heads up on what is out there and where to use them.
    thanks for all you do!

  • Nan may July 9, 2011, 2:02 PM

    We’re lucky here in NH – we have no sales tax on anything.
    But, I certainly agree with the article. My local grocery store recently limited the number of coupons it would double to just 4 of the same kind. Can’t blame them. If I really want more, I just go back the next day. That way there should be plenty to go around. It’s nice that more people are trying to save money, but we should only get what we will really use.

  • Crystal S. July 9, 2011, 2:32 PM

    I have been couponing for years and I am really aggrivated at the newbies clearing the shelves too. I went intowalgreens on a sunday morning and the place looked like it was going out of business because all the shelves were wiped clean! There is absolutely no reason on this earth why anyone would need to buy 15 tubes o toothpaste or 140 bottles of mustard at one time just because you have a coupon for it. I never buy more than 6 of 1 item and then I leave my extra coupons on the shelf for the next customer. It is our duty as extreme couponers to be “coupon fairies”. And those people on that show don’t shop like that all the time either, theyare doing it for “show”./

    • Linda Kwolek July 9, 2011, 7:32 PM

      Thank you to all the coupon fairys out their who have helped another person fiancially.

    • Miranda July 10, 2011, 1:41 AM

      I leave my coupons on the shelf that I dont need or want also. I watched my mother do it when i was a little girl and it is just plain nice to pass on to someone else something they may need.

  • Deborah Wood July 9, 2011, 2:48 PM

    I think the major things that struck me about the show were: 1. the amount of time people spend on their coupons – I don’t want to sit at a computer or desk 30 – 60 hours a week juggling small bits of paper!!! 2: how attached some of the gals were to their stockpiles. One said that if she lost her stockpile, it would be like losing a member of her family. What i can say in response to that is that she’s obviously NEVER lost an important member of her family or she could never make a statement like that. It made me feel a little sick to hear the comment. I think we’ll see some of these people on the Hoarding Show in a couple years. On the other hand, I was couponing before the shows and am so appreciative of the money I’ve been able to save and for the blogs that do so much of the work for me! Way to go guys!!! I work for a small school for autistic children and I’ve been able to really cut our supply bills with coupons for items we use frequently – like wipes and lysol spray. All things in moderation….and life stays in balance.

  • Jessica July 9, 2011, 3:19 PM

    I’m one of the newer people to the couponing world. I was couponing and bargain hunting before the Extreme couponing wave began, but I do follow certain blogs to learn how to save more. I’m not paying pennies on the dollar, I’m not buying things my family doesn’t already use or need, and I don’t have rows of shelves in my house for stock piling. I think that using coupons properly and with in reason helps those of us who need it. I too get frustrated because some people feel like they have to have the 100 tubes of toothpaste, but there are some of us who just want to buy 1 and can’t get it! I think it’s all about moderation. I didn’t clear any shelves yesterday and yet I still paid $185 for $500 of groceries and stuff my family needs.

  • Renee July 9, 2011, 3:19 PM

    I use coupons for items that i need and use i dont go to the extreme like the show i have my good weeks when i save $20 to $30 and i have my bad weeks when i only save $2 or $3 it depends on what i need and what i have coupons for where i live i dont have the room to stockpile items to the extreme but i have got some good tips and hints from the show as well as a few other websites and use them to help me save

  • kaye July 9, 2011, 3:34 PM

    Here is my take on the whole couponing business. First of all its not new, just the extreme way we do it is . When I first saw this on tv I knew then stores would find a way to stop all the big hauls some of the couponers get, they had to.
    Few people can get these deals because stores like in my area dont triple and will only double .50 or less. The two stores with up rewards and RR almost never have advertized items and if they do its very few put on the shelves. You spend hours going through all the ads and make your list for the best price at a store of choice only to find it was wasted time and gas. Rainchecks are worthless if you dont get to use your ad coupons that will run out before they get these items in. Then theres the ticket with next visit rewards and when you get there they dont have sale items again so you’ll buy anything full price to keep from losing your RR you might have which will expire soon. Also another trip wastes gas so there goes your savings. SCR is you waiting a month for your money.
    Now with all that said I do use coupons sometimes but my favorite store has their own brands which are cheaper than using coupons and buying brand name items most of the time. I do get some bargains though. Buying magazines & newspapers costs so consider that then what if they dont have coupons in them. We have a coupon bandit in our town. We do get the redplum cover most of the time. Then theres the new thing we run into at walmart a few days ago and that is the manager said not to print or try to use coupons with a certain address on it from TX that they would not take it. Now I have to go through all my coupons with a magnifying to check for that address. Hats off to the girls who have time and wisdom to beat all these obsticles and still come home with huge savings. I dont have the time!

  • Renee July 9, 2011, 3:43 PM

    Jodi—- Yes i have got looked at that way when i use coupons especially when it is a big savings instead of just a few $

  • Liz V July 9, 2011, 8:57 PM

    I just started couponing within the last 2 months, and I get a thrill from saving so much on something that I spend money on anyway. What I don’t get about the xtreme couponers is this: some spend thousands a year on newspaper subscription, some have more than one computer to print out mulitple coupons. All that time they spend, plus the extra money on computers and toner…I mean, how much do they save compared to how much they spend?

  • Susan July 10, 2011, 10:45 AM

    I ran to walgreens last night at 10pm to get burn cream for my husband and since it is a 24hr one there was already 6-7 sets of people with print outs and carts(yes carts one couple had 3 carts with stuff in it just standing around talking) full of stuff that goes on sale at midnight. I coupon but not to an extreme, I buy what we will use.

  • CJ July 10, 2011, 5:52 PM

    A coworker saw me with one coupon today and asked if I “had 400 cans of tomato soup in the garage and toilet paper under the bed, like those crazy people on tv”. One coupon and I’m a suspected extreme couponer 🙁 I watched the first few episodes of the show then stopped watching because I think it gives people an unrealistic view of most couponers.

  • Tanu July 11, 2011, 6:11 AM

    a few weeks ago we had been in the ER on a sat night by the time we got out if was sunday morn and the only place open to fill a scrip was CVS. Thee was a lady in there with 4 carts full of stuff (she had cleared the shelves of all the sale… items) My son asked her nicely if he could have ONE bag of chips and she looked at me and said “I have coupons for all of them and I’m buying all of them!” My son said “Please we’ve been in the ER all evening and I’m really hungry” She looked at me and said “Too bad take your kids to mcd’s or somewhere I’m buying them all!” I couldn’t believe it. My son said something the pharmacist and he told him to pick out a 99cents bag of candy. I called the store manager the next day and he told me that CVS is in the process of chaning their corp policy that you can only purchase 4 of the same sale item per CVS card. I couldn’t believe this woman was so rude to a young child. Of course on our way home I did stop by mcd’s and get them something but its just the idea that someone could be so selfish. Look for a lot of companies to change thier policies because of the show. I have a binder of coupons but I would never do what these peopel do. Just like that one guy on the show who had what 1500 would of toothpaste. Seiously! I also saw on the news this lady got arrested for only paying for one paper but taking taking all of them out of the machine. The owner of the maching started watching them and taping and showed it to the police.See More

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  • Kim August 3, 2011, 12:13 PM

    I’m so glad this article was written! I watched a few episodes of Extreme Couponing and I agree with the article, most people are setting themselves up for failure to attempt that! I’ve done casual couponing over the years, but now I am digging a little deeper as my husband and I are challenging ourselves to save money! I have a budget of $700 a month for a family of 5. I really want to see how far I can stretch my dollars! For me, this is fun and challenging! I can’t see myself doing what I’ve seen on TV, and really wouldn’t want to. Rock on fellow couponers!!!