Is Extreme Couponing Realistic?

With the popularity of the TLC show “Extreme Couponing” many people are wondering if it is a realistic goal. Well, after I saw the show last year I decided to try it out myself, and I have come to a few conclusions on the matter. The answer is … yes and no. It all depends on the person.

1. Time: Extreme couponing takes TIME! It’s not simply cutting your Sunday papers coupons and heading to the store. You have to carefully plan out each trip by looking at ads, visiting websites, making lists, and organizing coupons. You also have to create a coupon binder . Then, if you are making one of the huge trips they make on the show (and most admit they don’t ever make trips that big) it can take hours upon hours in the store. If you have a job and/or children it can be difficult to find the time to plan out trips, cut thousands of coupons, and spend hours in the store. It’s more realistic to cut one or two newspapers worth of coupons and make small trips.

2. Money: Although many extreme couponers will scream at me for saying it involves money, it does. Now, if you simply want to get great deals and free products when sales and great coupons go together, it is extremely cheap. For example, the average newspaper is about $2, so if you wanted to buy 2 (just so you have 2 of each coupon) you’re only spending about $4. This is nothing compared to what you will save. But, I have seen people on the show who spend over $300 a week on newspapers, or go online and spend a lot on just the inserts themselves. This is GREAT when you can really coupon and your savings greatly exceed what you spend on coupons, so yes in the end you are saving a lot, but if you don’t have the money to spend up front it’s not realistic to think you can get 200 bottles of juice for free. If we’re being honest though, it’s not going to kill you if you can just get one or two. A great way to get free coupons is to write to companies online asking for coupons.

3. Stockpile: The stockpiles on the show look amazing. I mean, who wouldn’t love to have their own little grocery store in their house? It can be hard for someone who starts couponing to realize it takes awhile to get to that (if you are trying to build it on free and dirt cheap prices). You have to wait for sales, and it’s not realistic to think that in the first few weeks you will have sales and coupons that match up to give you tons of free or cheap things. If you pay attention to the show, even though these people have 5 carts of things, they usually only have a few items, they just have hundreds of those items. You can’t do a regular grocery shopping trip and get everything for $3. After time, your stockpile will build and you can have the luxury of not having to get so many things each time you go to the store, which will save lots of money.

In the end, coupons save money regardless. It’s great to go to the store and save $15, but since the show came out many people aren’t satisfied with this. If you have time to extreme couponing I definitely say “Go for it!” But if you don’t then set your goals small and save money where and when you can.

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