The blogosphere and especially frugal living blogs are full of recaps of the extreme couponing show on TLC. I must admit that as a new couponer (8 months or so), I was intrigued to see the savings pile up and watched the TLC episode this week. I routinely save 50 to 60% on our grocery bill, but much of that is due to taking advantage of store sales with about half being coupons. It does add up, don’t get me wrong, but the hourly wage isn’t all that great when I break it down.
I was curious to see a real pro in action. The couple that was featured spent about $50 and received about $700 worth of groceries. A huge savings! On a good day, I may get $200 of groceries when spending $50 – but I have never reached the level of an extreme couponer. She saved $650 – nothing to scoff at!
What She Bought:
Part of her haul was 35 bottles of Maalox. If we’ve ever had 1 bottle of Maalox in my house, I am unaware of it. And 35? They would have to be drinking it like milk to be able to get through that much Maalox before it expired. What’s the point of buying 35 bottles of Maalox regardless of how cheap it is?
This woman and her husband were in the grocery store for 5 hours. This is after spending hours clipping coupons, matching up sales and planning their route and transactions once they got to the store. Let’s assume they each spent an additional 5 hours. That is 20 hours total in order to save $650. It breaks down to an hourly wage of $32.50 per hour. Not too shabby, but not Donald Trump wages by any means either. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my free time is pretty valuable to me and taking up 10 full hours of mine AND my husband’s time each week will have to pay really well to make it worth it.
Favors Called in:
For this couple to save so much, they relied upon a store deal that paid $10 back when you spent $50 or more per transaction. Therefore, they broke their purchase up into 13 transactions of just over $50 to maximize the refunds they received. But here’s the hitch, the store only allowed one refund per customer, so the couple called in their friends to come down to the grocery store and be their body for the $10 refund. First of all, those are really good friends. Secondly, that is 11 more people that likely spent at least 30 minutes each by the time they drove down, waited in line and got home again. That 5.5 hours brings the hourly wage down to $25.50 – but that isn’t the end of it. As a couple they are now obligated to return the favor some day – that day and time yet to be determined. They may not have incurred a financial debt, but there is certainly a debt to be paid. For $10? It’s not worth it to me.
Is it Hoarding or Stockpiling?
I have a stockpile. It includes about 20 of any one item – specifically boxes of pasta and as many boxes of cereal – among other dry goods like canned soup, granola bars, etc. Is that a lot? Yep. But we will be able to eat it before it expires and it’s stuff we will actually use. PLUS it fits into our pantry.
The extreme couponers? They have 100′s of square feet of accumulated products. This particular couple’s entire basement was dedicated to shelves after shelves of items. There is no possible way this family could go through even half of the items within their shelf life. So what’s the point? You won’t use it and you have to pay for the space and utilities to keep it. That isn’t a stockpile – that is hoarding. No question.
So, does extreme couponing pay? Maybe.
But I intend to stick to my 55% savings each week and be happy. What about you? Have you watched extreme couponing? What were your thoughts?
** I published this article on Technorati first - Is Extreme Coupoing Worth it?