You know what I mean by “extreme couponing,” the habit of collecting all the coupons you can find and searching out stores that offer double and triple their face value, so you can get a boatload of groceries for just a few dollars. It’s couponing, to the extreme!
Do not get me wrong, I am all for saving money when and where you can and strongly encourage everyone to be responsible shoppers. I have a price list from local grocery stores, shop at one of those warehouse-style stores, and every Sunday I clip coupons and check store circulars. So if I’m all for saving money, what’s the issue with extreme couponing?
What They’re Buying, and Eating
There are a few concerns I have; one is that I never see these families buy fruits and vegetables and fresh meat. You typically don’t find coupons for those items, but instead it’s all processed foods, canned foods, boxed foods, and so on. These foods are typically devoid of any nutritional value and are often loaded with sugars and preservatives. Is your family’s health not worth the few extra dollars that those fresh bananas and leafy greens might cost?
Who is Really Paying
Another consideration regarding extreme couponing is that while this practice may be technically legal, it’s well outside the purpose of those coupons. I know what everyone is thinking; “So what? If you’re allowed, what the problem?” The problem is that food manufacturers and grocers offer coupons that cut into the money they need for their costs, assuming people will use them only to a certain extent. When you group sales with triple coupon deals and buy dozens of these items, you’re not paying for those items; however, it doesn’t cost those manufacturers and grocers any less money to make them, ship them, shelve them, and check you out when you use coupons!
This means that other shoppers are making up for the savings you’re getting when they pay full price; food manufacturers and grocers need to make X amount of dollars in order to maintain their business, and whatever they’re not making from someone that is extreme couponing, they need to receive from others. In other words, they need to raise their prices to cover the cost of what they give away for free.
Finding Another Way to Support Your Family
I’m sure the next argument from those who do enjoy extreme couponing is that times are tough; we all need to save money, just as I do every week. I understand that completely, but that leads me to another concern. From the shows I’ve watched about this habit, many spend hours and hours and hours every week collecting and cataloging coupons and planning their shopping. One woman confessed to spending about sixty hours per week, another said it was around forty hours every week. Can you imagine if they actually worked at jobs during these hours instead of extreme couponing?
If they worked at a job, they would earn the money they need to pay for the items that someone else is making for them. They could then afford those fresh fruits and vegetables. If they worked, they could also do something else with that money such as help to pay off the mortgage, put it in a savings account, and yes, even pay some taxes.
Something for Nothing
The bottom line for me is that those who are extreme couponing are only concerned with how they can get something for nothing. Good for them; now what about the people that are providing these things for them? Don’t they deserve to get paid? Food manufacturers and farmers deserve to get paid for growing and packaging that food and for transporting it to the store, grocers deserve to be paid for the costs they incur in shelving and refrigerating that food, and workers deserve to be paid for stocking those shelves and checking you out at the register as well.
Getting something for nothing is all well and good, within reason. However, when your obsession with getting food for nothing causes you to set aside good nutrition, and when you decide that getting something for nothing is better than earning it for yourself, it’s time to wonder if you’ve stepped outside those bounds of reason. And just to save fifty cents on a can of soup?