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Extreme Couponing Gone Wrong

Written by Nickel - 12 Comments

Extreme Couponing Gone Wrong

I’ve shared my view of coupons (and run a poll) here on FCN in the past. While I’m well aware that you can save a decent amount of money on groceries with coupons, we’re just not the coupon clipping sort.

And we’re definitely not into extreme couponing, where the focus tends to be more on how much money you can save vs. buying useful products.

Instead, we prefer to buy (mostly) store brands and we tend to stock up (within reason) when things are on sale.

I thus read with great interest an article on MoneyCrashers.com wherein a self-proclaimed extreme coupon shopper admits that extreme couponing is, for the most part, a waste of time.

The problems that she brings up include:

  • Many freebies aren’t that desirable,
  • The same things tend to go on sale over and over, meaning that you wind up with huge stockpiles of the same things,
  • The practice often leads to hoarding,
  • Bargain shopping can lead to unhealthy choices,
  • Many “extremists” break the rules, meaning that you probably can’t expect the results you see on TV, and
  • Couponing can be a time-consuming obsession.

Of course, you don’t have to take it to the extreme to save money with coupons, but many people do. And those who do are often wasting time in search of “deals” that might be of little or no use to them in the long run.

What do you think? Are you a couponer? If so, have you crossed the line into “extreme” couponing?

Published on January 9th, 2013
Modified on January 12th, 2013 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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12 Responses to “Extreme Couponing Gone Wrong”

  1. 1
    Amy Says:

    No extreme couponing for me…but I have been known to get sucked into a store with a $5 off $25 purchase. It’s fine if you would have purchased anyway, but I feel like I’ve crossed the line into buying things I wouldn’t have. I consider that a loss.

    I did do a lot of diaper coupons, which I found minimally time consuming and easy to do and saved a good chunk of money…until Amazon Moms came out with their 30% off subscribe and save diaper service that came to my door. At that point it was not worth couponing again.

    The other danger for me is the Groupon sites. It doesn’t really matter how much of a deal it is if you don’t really need what you are buying. That is, need or “would buy otherwise,” because there are plenty of things I don’t need but would buy otherwise.

  2. 2
    Den Says:

    I coupon for groceries and toiletries and save about $20 a week on a $125 grocery budget. Not extreme by any means and it only takes me an extra 15 minutes a week. I only use coupons for items I would normally buy, use a grocery list, and shop what’s on sale each week at our store. It’s a bit of a pain, but I try and look at a $1 coupon as a $1 bill – would I bend over to pick up a $1 bill (absolutely!)? So why wouldn’t I use a $1 coupon where appropriate?

    I think like anything else, you have to use common sense and do what’s best for you at that time in your life.

  3. 3
    Travis Says:

    We’ve done our share of rolling and large quantity purchase with coupons but nothing like what I’ve heard from others. The most extreme is that I we bought around 15 bottles of body wash that cost a total of 0.14/ea. We’ve used some and given some away to charities and food drives. Otherwise we find consistent deals on free dental floss, have rolled deals to get free jeans for the kids by purchasing gift cards that we use later ourselves, and rolled coupons to get free mouth wash.

    That being said none of this was illegal or even we always follow the fine print on these deals. However, I would agree that most of the free stuff is pure crap and we don’t buy a lot of food products via coupons because it’s processed food that is full of sugar or other junk that we don’t want to eat

  4. 4
    Susan Says:

    I cut out every coupon from the Sunday paper. Products I use anyway (mostly paper goods and toiletries), I will put aside the coupons for those and use them. The ones I don’t use, I send to a US Naval base overseas and the families there can use them if they use the products. I do this while watching the news on Sunday mornings, so it’s no real extra time spent. Sometimes I get food coupons for items I use, but not usually. But I do pretty well with paper goods, plastic bags, household cleaners and toiletry items.

  5. 5
    Caesar F Says:

    My mom is like that on groceries, but she keeps a keen eye on when sales are happening. She’s out of the country currently but still knew about sales happening here and told my sister to go at a certain time to buy a certain item at the store.

  6. 6
    Kurt @ Money Counselor Says:

    I used to coupon, but have pretty much abandoned it. I’ve got X hours I want to devote to grocery shopping, and I think I save more by dedicating the time I used to spend couponing to other techniques for managing the grocery budget.

  7. 7
    jim Says:

    The extreme couponing I’ve seen on the TV shows never seemed realistic or practical. I can never find coupon deals to get stuff for such high discounts. Plus I don’t need 100 bottles of mustard and 50 tubs of margarine.

    Moderate couponing can certainly make sense. I use the higher value coupons I get in the mail or from the grocery store and try and save a couple bucks whenever its practical. Thats well worth the time.

  8. 8
    Tanya Says:

    I’m not reading the responses sorry. I’d “point” out to the poster, perhaps the person who wrote the article, that used the words “within reason”…. Pray, what is “within reason”?? Does your definition of “within reason” match mine? When I had the money I stock up as much as I wanted and thought I would benefit from. If the amount of cans of black beans, or rice, or whatever I stocked up on bothers another buyer, so what!! I don’t really care! I was working part-time and stocked up when I knew that I was going to have the extra money to do so. I couldn’t just sit around and “just stock up on ten cans because after all I’m single and that’s “all” I’d really need….”
    I’ts always baffled me how people use the term “within reason” or express dismay at the so called “rudeness” of other shoppers who they see fillig up their carts with x number of items. What business is it of yours how long it takes x person to use up an item? is what I say.
    I have been working on and off to get myself into making meals and eating them on a regular basis. Whether it’s because of lack of self-love and/or a subtle neurological glitch ( due to head injury, affecting time management, self organization etc…) I have tomato cans which I “stocked up on” that are at least a year and a half old right now, as of today’s date!!

    And, in a way I am Very Happy because I don’t have to rush out and spend money to buy the stuff when it’s not on sale. And I’m single!! I’m not an avid couponer, have bought stuff, “meant” to get organzied, nine times out of ten I forget to trim the coupons I saved etc…..

    Don’t let anyone tell you what “within reason” means. If you want to stock up a whole closet of x item AND you have the financial means to do so,go ahead. No one else except you is going to know what your financial situation will be three months from now or if you plan on donating half of your stash to a charity. And if you have to make multiple trips to stock up on the number of x items then that’s what you need to do. Just my two cents.

  9. 9
    BG Says:

    My local grocery store has big stacks of “manufacturer coupons” on the isle right there to use — they don’t offer any “store coupons” that the extremists love to double up with the manufacturer coupons (at other merchants).

    It kinda makes Sunday-paper coupon clipping a waste of time — so we don’t do it. If we need spaghetti sauce (as an example), we’ll use the manufacturing coupon the store has hanging on the isle (if it is the best deal, of course).

  10. 10
    Peggy Smith Says:

    I cut all coupons and only use the ones for items I actually use…EXCEPT IF THEY ARE FREE…I get them and donate. I match coupons to weekly sales and have done this for years. Why pay $2.00 for an item if you have a buck off and can get it for $1.00 and I pick up pennies, a penny saved is a penny earned.

  11. 11
    Penny Says:

    I enjoy couponing, but in moderation, and not in a way that would cause other average folks or the store managers to “lose”. I don’t try to cheat the system, I don’t hold up the checkout line to do several transactions at once, I don’t clean out the shelves.

    I *do* try to buy reasonably healthy and varied foods on a budget.

  12. 12
    Marla Says:

    I love to save as much as the next person but many stores have employees that are not familiar with the store’s coupon policies or it seems they just don’t know how to ring them up. Which leads me to after a good coupon deal, I get home, add things up and realize the coupon wasn’t scanned correctly (because of a manual override and was input incorrectly) or the coupon just didn’t get scanned. Then how do you prove you had that coupon once it’s surrendered. I guess if you have the time to coupon, you have the time to go over your receipt before you get home or you know more or less what you should be paying at the register. Not for me, I guess it just stresses me out! Anyone feel the same?

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