So after hearing all the hoopla about this show, I finally sat down and watched it the other night. Although at first I was almost sucked in by the whole thing, by the end of the show I almost felt disgusted.
I mean from a marketing perspective, I think the show has a great premise, after all, who doesn’t want to walk away with $1000 worth of groceries for $10? Everyone stands around the checkout line amazed, the cashiers are amazed, and viewers are like WOW.
But as someone who has used coupons and hunted for those ultimate bargains, I see a few problems.
- Time Spent – Ok, so for these hard-core couponers, they are spending like 30 hours a week on clipping and organizing their coupons. Then you have to account for the time spent finding their bargains, loading their carts, unloading their carts at the checkout, unloading their bags into their car, unloading the bags into their house, then storing and organizing their goods. I suppose if it’s something you really need and it’s really a good price, then it MIGHT be worth it…but I’m just wondering if their families feel the same way since they are losing time spent with their couponer.
- Useless (or semi-useless) Items – Ok…so if you really look at these “great” deals, are they really useful for the average household? Two items on the last episode that were just ridiculous to me were the hundreds of bottles of headache medicine and the croutons. Really? I understand that the lady used her overage on the Excedrin to buy meat…but still. I just can’t fathom having a use for 100 packages of croutons, even if they were free.
- Mental Issues – For each and every person they featured, it seemed that their extreme couponing was covering up some kind of mental issue. Whether that issue is low self-esteem (one woman directly said it made her feel useful) or an obsessive compulsion to save money or what seemed to be at the heart of many of the stories – hoarding.
And what I think is the absolute worst, is each “issue” was sugar-coated. The one woman gives away her extra supply to the homeless shelter, and another woman lets her family come “shop” from her stockpile. Lovely. It obviously distracts from the above issues and makes everyone feel warm and happy and therefore they keep watching the show.
Can couponing be productive and useful? Absolutely. But I think there should be some guidelines for it.
- Limit your time clipping coupons and hunting for deals. If these two tasks start taking over your life, there is a problem.
- Only buy items that are things you are actually going to use. Just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it – especially if you’re never going to use it….then it’s no longer a good deal.
- Don’t let your stockpile overtake your house. If your basement (or wherever you keep your goods) starts looking like a grocery store, something is wrong.
- Examine your motives for using coupons. If you are truly looking to save money, then you’re probably ok. Even if you’re having fun with the “rush” of a good deal, you’re probably still ok. But if you are doing it so you can have an excessive stockpile, so you can feel like you have worth, or so other people shower you with attention, you’re probably not ok.
And if you’re still interested in clipping coupons, you need to learn how the whole system works. Don’t just randomly clip coupons and buy stuff…honestly you’ll probably even lose money that way. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Get a book like: The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half: The Strategic Shopping Method Proven to Slash Food and Drugstore Costs
- Try a website like The Grocery Game
- Join forums such as the ones on Slick Deals