Extreme Couponing vs. Realistic Couponing

by Beth Montgomery on April 7, 2011 · 16 comments

in Coupons & Rebates, Entertainment & Fun

I’m sure so many of you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night and were in awe by the savings.   It was impressive.

Is it possible?   Yes.

Every week? No.

I used to say that I’m an extreme couponer, but after watching this show, I’d say I’m a realistic couponer and I teach realistic couponing in my classes, with the understanding that some people are brand-specific, some want organic and all-natural foods that are more expensive, and some will only use a few of the savings tips I teach.   My goal is to provide for my family and community, not the entire neighborhood for a year in case of a freak blizzard that blocks us off from the rest of the world.

With that in mind, here are some things you may not realize about me and may be shocked to find out:

  • I spend $50 per week on groceries, including a $49 organic grocery delivery we get every other week.
  • I get one newspaper each week and have enough coupons to do the deals I want to do, so I never pay full price for things we need.
  • I stockpile using a small pantry the size of a coat closet and that’s it.   I only keep enough on hand to make it to the next great sale price and donate the rest.
  • In my stockpile, I have exactly 5 boxes of cereal, 10 rolls of toilet paper, 5 rolls of paper towels, 4 tubes of toothpaste, and 1 bottle of mustard at this point in time.   That’s it.
  • I spend one hour a week preparing to shop and am always in and out of the store in one hour or less.
  • I miss some great deals, because I only go to 1-2 stores a week and only go to the store once a week or less.   And, I’m happy with that.
  • I aim to save 50% per week. That’s a lot!   That’s a realistic goal.   And while I have saved 70-100%, that’s not the norm.
  • I rarely buy coupons, unless they are for a product my family uses a lot or it’s a high-value coupon.
  • I’ve never done more than 3 transactions at the store to save money.   And, when I do multiple transactions, I let those behind me go in between transactions, so I’m not holding up the line.

Extreme couponing is fun to watch, but it’s called extreme for a reason.   Keep that in mind while watching.   Paying under $50 for $1,200 worth of groceries isn’t something most couponers should expect without devoting 100% of their time and energy to coupons and taking some extreme measures to make sure you get the lowest prices.   It’s just not realistic, but then again, when is reality t.v. realistic?

Also watch with care and investigate any tips or methods you see.   There’s are some rumors of coupon fraud occurring on the show, though I didn’t see it and cannot confirm or deny.   However, these couponers may not understand that a saving method they are using isn’t on the up and up, so research before you try it at your store!

My advice – realistically, aim for 50% savings, but if you even save $0.01, that’s great.   Celebrate that you saved.   It doesn’t matter how much or how little it may be and only buy what your family needs and will use!   Couponing with grace is an important part of couponing!

Did you enjoy Extreme Couponing?   Did you learn anything new?   What’s the most you’ve saved using coupons and what’s your goal when you plan your trips?

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