Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Have you seen that show on TLC? As with all reality shows it aims for excitement and drama, more than reality. Yes, you can save a bunch of money by using coupons. But, unless you plan to live on only dry goods and processed foods, you can't feed a family of 8 on $10 a week. Occasionally you see them buy meat and produce with their "overage" from coupons.  Usually though you don't see them buying meats and produce.

Then there's the "stockpile". Who really needs 1000 tubes of toothpaste? First, would you even use that much in a lifetime.  Second, don't you need that space in your house for something you will use? Lastly, there are plenty of homeless shelters that could use the donation. I view that not as stockpiling, I view that as hoarding.

The time involved in this is amazing. On a typical episode I hear quotes of 30 or 40 hours a week spent couponing. Last week the lady flat out said that if anyone tells you they're spending less than 10 hrs a week is lying. These people obviously view this as their job because how much is your time worth?

I am feeding 8 people. If you feed 4 you probably cannot imagine what feeding 8 looks like. Though I am sure my friends with 10 or 12+ would love to only feed 8. I mention this though because of space and stockpile. What is a good start of a stockpile for the family of 4, only feeds us for 2 weeks. I don't have the space to stockpile much.  If I shop for 2-3 weeks of food I fill up my walk in pantry and 2 freezers.

My time is stretched thin. If parenting 1 kid is a full time job, I am working overtime already. We have activities M-Th plus games Saturdays and/or Sundays. My free time starts around 9pm unless I get up at 6 am. In order to squeeze in 10 hrs of couponing that would mean I need to coupon 9-10pm and 6-6:30am every day of the week.

That does not mean I don't want to save a couple dollars. My grocery budget is higher than my mortgage. I decided to give couponing a try.  First we try the binder method. That is time consuming, for someone.  I say, "for someone" because my teen voluntarily clipped and organized a lot of them. I then switched to the file method.  A few weeks ago I even met up with some friends, we got to trade coupons. That is certainly the upside to couponing.  While A2 and J4 played on the playground I got to chit chat and trade. Too bad baby L wouldn't cooperate by eating her snack or at least riding on my back, all she wanted to do was eat dirt, pine straw, and pine cones. It definitely makes "moms couponing night out" sound needed.  Though doesn't paying for dinner negate some of my savings?

There's more to couponing than clipping and organizing. You have to read the ads, match to coupons, make your list and know the regular prices. Southernsavers.com and similiar websites do the matching for you and even let you create a list. Regular prices are so much more confusing. Walmart has the everyday "lowest prices" on so many things. Walmart never has the buy 1 get 1 free, 2 for 1, 10 for $10, etc sales though. In the end Walmart is pricier for so many things.  At the same time though, I learned the everyday, regular price varies so much. For example, I managed to score one of Heinz's $2 off Facebook fan coupons. At Walmart $2 gets you the $1.98 40 oz bottle for free. That same bottle was $2.39 at Target and over $3 at the grocery store. That is a huge variation is prices.

Who has time to go from store to store? After you've spent 10 hours couponing you probably don't have much time left. Then there's the trip prep while the babies press the buttons on the printer your trying to use to print coupons. My prep does not involve dumpster diving. My kids have had their tetanus shots but we are still not climbing in dumpsters. The racecar carts the kids love does buy me 3 aisles of the grocery store. A free cookie might get me another aisle. It's a shame we don't have any of those pay per view movie carts around here, that might get me 5 aisles. There is nothing in the world that is going to get them to agree to 3 stores. I could go on the weekend, but call me selfish, I like to spend time with hubby and the school aged kids.

Yes, I think couponing is a great way to save money. Stockpiling helps to make couponing even better. Hoarding and dumpster diving is just insane though.  Yes, the TV show brings to light the great savings that are to be had out there.  But to me, the only thing the show does, is encourage people to print 10 of each coupon from 5 different computers so that the coupon reaches it's print maximum before the rest of us can print any.  Then they take those to the store to clear the shelves so there is nothing left for the rest of us.  Maybe if we commit all the "crazies" out there letting their kids crawl around in dumpsters then they'll be some items left at the store for the rest of us. If they're in the loony bin they can't clear the shelves of all the pain reliever. I mean those of us just trying to save a couple dollars might need some of that for the headache it brought on. Or maybe that's just me with the headache, because I'm slightly crazier than the rest. I take 3 kids under 5 couponing with me.

Don't forget free is the best way to go, check out my previous blog post for a chance to win something for free.  Maybe a coupon bag, or reusable produce bag?

1 comment:

  1. I have to think about expiration dates as a major factor as well since most of the time it's just Scott and I now. Greg spends weekends with his girlfriend so we rarely see him and he is happy if there is milk and cereal available when he does come home. I do use coupons and have been known to walk around the neighborhood Tuesdays and Fridays and raid coupons from recycling bins before they can be picked up but I'm not going in the recycling bin at the center - I figure if they've made it that far it's their time to go. I have saved as much as $175 years ago when we had a Kroger that doubled up to a $1. When we were first married there was a Family Mart in West Columbia that would double up to $1.50 and I used to save a ton there. I like to shop Bi-Lo and Walgreens the most as they have the best sales to line up with the weekly coupons... so thats 2 ads to check. I may spend 1 or 2 hours a week with couponing but thats about it.