If you watched “TLC’s Extreme Couponing” last night, you probably have a false impression of what couponing is all about. Most of the people that regularly use coupons do not go home with four shopping carts full of food. They do not buy 62 bottles of mustard in one shopping trip. The show is called Extreme Couponing for a reason. There is simply no way that most coupon users can sustain that level of shopping and stockpiling without compromising other areas of their lives like work and family. After watching the show last night, I felt it was important to offer some tips to help counter the coupon craziness and dispel some of the myths featured on the show.
You Do Not Need a Stockpile
There is simply no need to have a two-year supply of toilet paper. If you’ve spent any time looking through super market sales flyers, you’ll notice that the same things tend to be on sale fairly regularly. A couponer featured on the show last night said that supermarket sales cycles are set up so that certain products are only on sale every six months. That’s incorrect. Supermarket sales typically operate on a 6 to 8 week cycle. With this in mind, only buy enough of what your family needs, wants, and will use over the next 6 to 8 weeks. . This seems like a fairly simple concept but the pressure to buy something simply because it’s cheap or free can often be overwhelming.
Store coupon policies are different
The shopping experience you saw portrayed on the show will most likely not happen to you. Every supermarket has a different coupon policy. Some stores take competitor’s coupons and some don’t. Some stores double coupons and others don’t. Also, most grocery stores will not allow you to do 18 separate consecutive transactions. Not only is it discourteous to other customers, it’s horribly unkind to the cashier. “The TLC Extreme Couponing” show even featured a coupon user who called her friends to come to the store to complete some of her transactions because only one coupon could be used per customer. If you do this as blatantly as she did, this probably will not work in your store.
Rampant consumerism will not save you much in the long run
It’s important to be conscious about what you’re buying and why you’re buying it. The allure of 90 percent savings is strong but even with coupons, money is still being spent. Perfectly good products will be wasted if someone decides to shop with an extreme couponing mentality. If you cannot or will not use the product in a reasonable amount of time, or at least by the expiration date, leave it for someone who can. If you must stock up on a certain product, don’t stockpile it. Donate it to a local homeless shelter or food pantry.