I sat there in disbelief as I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing recently. In the show, a shopper had just arrived home with bags and bags of groceries and she was unloading the bags, stacking the items on shelf after shelf. An entire room in her house was filled from top to bottom with cans of food, boxes of dry food, razors, shampoo and more.
One coupon fanatic mentioned that she had 105 sticks of deodorant. That's right. One hundred and five. She counted them. Why would anyone want to stock up on one hundred sticks of underarm freshness? Heck, by the time she gets to the 50th stick, the deodorant will fall apart at the first application.
The extreme couponers took great pride in the money that they saved from trip after trip to the grocery store. Hundreds of dollars of groceries were reduced to a few dollars after the piles of coupons were scanned in. One woman explained that she spends sixty hours a week to finding, cutting out, and managing her coupon habit.
Holy moly, sixty hours a week--that's more than some 9 to 5 jobs! But what really got me was seeing one of the gals hop into a dumpster to dive for some coupons. I've heard of dumpster diving, but seeing it on reality TV still sent my head spinning.
As far back as I can remember, my mom cut out coupons. She would lay out the Sunday newspaper coupons and plan the week's meals around whatever she could find. Everything was organized in a small folder and she would shop in three different local stores. If there was a sale on canned tomatoes and she had coupons for it, she would stock up. We would then have spaghetti that week, and she'd freeze the rest of the sauce for later meals. Mom's philosophy for coupons was that it enabled her to save money on dry goods so that she could spend the savings on fresh fruits and vegetables. We had an entire drawer in the upstairs bathroom devoted to soap and toothpaste. My dad built shelves in the basement and mom stored all the sale items as well as her homemade canned goods. Mom always preached "no waste" and she used everything she bought. We ate leftovers until last morsel was gone, no matter what. I've always said that my mom could squeeze a quarter out of a penny.
We never ran out of toothpaste, but we sure as heck didn't store 1,000 tubes of it as one Extreme Couponer boasted about. The Extreme Couponers pride themselves on saving money and buying vast amounts of goods for a few dollars, but I can't help but wonder how much of it goes to waste. Coupons are a wonderful way to save money, but how far is too far if you don't use the products you buy?
Filed under: Lifestyles