Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cumulative Expense?

While flicking through channels on a day home sick, I came across a reality show called Extreme Couponing. It's pretty amazing; the people there put an insane amount of time in collecting and organizing coupons to the point they can leave a store with over $1,000 worth of groceries for $10. Spare bedrooms in the house are stockpiled with enough goods to survive for decades.
The prep work for such an outing takes as much time as a full-time job; some pay a fortune a year in newspaper subscriptions; some have multiple computers and printers since coupons have limits as to how many can be printed per device; some scour the neighborhoods for unoccupied houses with abandoned papers on their driveways; others dumpster dive for discarded circulars. 

And the stuff they buy! Vats of cream cheese, bottles of soda, boxes of cake mix, bags of candy, cartons of frozen dinners—all processed food that has an indefinite shelf life. For the personal care products, like twenty tubes of toothpaste—is all that toothpaste to combat the rotting teeth from such a diet? 

No one seems to consider the expenses to get to the coupons itself. Gas to troll for recycling bins; newspaper subscriptions; numerous computers; hours and hours of time that could be earning money instead—and they shouldn't even be eating this junk. Never mind the shot nerves when they get to the register, praying that they calculated everything correctly.

Nothing that they buy for nothing seem to be real necessities. They kill themselves, spend a fortune, when they could eat less and healthier. The produce aisle tends not to have coupons, but that's where one should really do all their shopping.

These women turned their couponing fetish into a business. 
Yoder and Knight are part of a growing community of people for whom coupons are a significant part of making ends meet. After declining for nearly a decade, coupon use has increased almost 35 percent since 2008 . . . Last year, more than 3.5 billion coupons for consumer packaged goods were redeemed, an increase of 6.1 percent over 2010.   
With seven children to feed and her husband out of work, Cathy Yoder took her clipping savvy and supports her family with it, in more ways than one. The article cites her stockpiling of tuna, canned veggies, and milk, certainly nutritious items, mollifying my previous stockpiling horror.  
If you want to slash your grocery bills, you must overhaul your nonapproach to shopping. Forget mindlessly rolling down the aisles, dropping items in the cart for reasons of brand recognition or this or that gustatory whim. You must become strategic, unyielding and impervious to marketing appeals. You must buy only what’s on sale — the same goes for unprocessed items, like vegetables and meat — preferably timing your coupon use to the sales and planning meals around what’s in your freezer or pantry. This is called “shopping your stockpile.”
Yoder is able to slash a $1,000 monthly food bill down to $400, and she gives classes on how to go about it. She can't seem to get her husband to shop with coupons, though. Men, apparently, don't coupon. 


MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

Come on, it's not about how much you spend. It's about how much you save!
For these folks it's not about shopping, it's a competition.

tesyaa said...

I have 6 kids and I never got into couponing. I'll only use a coupon if it's something like "$5 off your next grocery bill at the supermarket you shop at every week anyway!"

I do, however, go to Costco and go out of my way to go to a produce market where prices are, I swear, 50% of supermarket prices. (We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables).

Princess Lea said...

MGI: Oh, I get that. But for clothing! For shoes! For something I won't eat and then promptly forget about!

Tesyaa: I love Costco. Their milk is awesome. And that's what people should be spending their money on: fruits and vegetables, not cake mix!

Tovah Brinton said...

I stopped watching that show because all I saw were people cleaning out loads of products, then filling up those storage places with stuff they could never use up in a million years.

At least give SOME of it to Charity.

Sporadic Intelligence said...

I coupon - sometimes - when it's convenient, not a hassle. (it's usually a hassle)

I think the key is to shop sales and stock up. Like there's a sale on Hellman's mayo for 2.99 in Pathmark this week, it's usually closer to 5 bucks. And soda (yes, I know you don't approve) on sale for 98 cents instead of 1.69... and on ketchup and pasta... skip the coupons, and just use common sense.

Princess Lea said...

Tovah: It's so frustrating to watch! Like, seriously, is the apocalypse coming, or something? "I am Legend"?

SI: Sales are better. I'm all about getting something for less! I love it when cottage cheese is on sale.

(Wagging finger) No more soda!

Sporadic Intelligence said...

In my defense - the soda is my husband's weakness - Dr. Pepper to be precise. And his addiction is a direct reaction to his mother banning soda from the house... you may want to reconsider your position... ;)

Tovah Brinton said...

Yeah...they're so proud of having 200 tubes of toothpaste.

Give some away to a shelter or something. My gosh!

My best savings remain promo codes. I've saved quite alot that way.

Princess Lea said...

SI: My brother is the same way. The only coke we have in the house is for emergency medicinal purposes (I have a tendency to stomach bugs) and whenever he visits he cleans out my supply.

Tovah: To be proud of hoarding toothpaste is kinda sad, yeah.