Remember when Extreme Couponing was all the rage? And everyone was talking about it and/or trying it, even people who normally hate talking about money? ;)
A reader recently unloaded a whole bunch of (pretty hilarious) thoughts on it which we’ll get to in a bit, but a quick search of my own E.C. postings definitely points to the fad no longer being a fad anymore… (Though of course regular couponing will always be in, as it’s just plain smart!)
Here are all the articles we’ve published on extreme couponing:
- Jan, 2011: Extreme Couponing. WOW.
- Apr, 2011: PS: Extreme Couponing is Back on TV Tonight!
- Dec, 2011: Mythbusters: Extreme Couponing
- Mar, 2014: One-on-One with Extreme Couponer (and of Bachelorette Fame), Chrystie Vachon!
- Mar, 2017: Why I Stopped Extreme Couponing
It all came full circle, haha… And my friend Debbie here seems to be over it too.
Here are some comments mashed together from her, which can pretty much be summed up with this line here – “coupons were almost a narcotic to me.”
Sounds about right :)
Extreme couponing was a real problem when we moved. Hauling 96 packages of toilet paper, 72 tubes of toothpaste, 66 sticks of deodorant, 84 rolls of paper towels, 69 bottles of body wash/shampoo, 57 bars of soap, 48 bottles of dish detergent was exhausting, not to mention countless cans of veggies, soups, tomato sauce, peanut butter, jelly, and boxes of everything from cookies to mac & cheese. We have enough toothbrushes to last into the next century.
The list goes on & on but the real killer was 46 heavy containers of laundry detergent. What a pain in the ankle (and every other bone it took to move all these treasures…cough cough).
And yes, I had already donated a ton of my stockpile! This is when I FINALLY realized this obsession had gone off the deep end. God forbid I missed a sale or a coupon expired at one of the 10 stores I shopped – I’d cry in my pillow all night, LOL. Okay it wasn’t quite that bad but man, this was a drain on my time & emotions running from store to store & hoping to get there before they ran out of stock on a good sale item (I always fell for the fine print in an ad “while supplies last” = run to store immediately).
I remember once a month Harris Teeter had “Super Double Coupons”. They doubled any coupon up to $2 (so a $2 coupon would double to $4). They were the only store in the area to do this. Lines of people added to my anxiety “forcing” me to get up at 4AM to arrive at the store at 4:20AM to beat the competition on the first day of Super Doubles. Store policy though? No check out before 7AM during Super Doubles.
Like an idiot, I shopped the store 2 hours & stood on line over 1/2 hour until they opened the cash registers at 7AM. Some sale items were out of stock by 7AM on the first day! And they almost never restocked during the sale (I knew this as I’d go back to the store 2-3 times during Super Doubles after I printed out more coupons or if my mother snail mailed me more coupons) so this added to my frenzy.
Coupons were almost a narcotic to me. Today I’m proud to say I’ve attended Super Double coupons only twice since we moved & it was purely by accident that I walked into the store for something else I needed. It’s nice living off this stockpile, but I now only clip coupons for things needed in the immediate future & only go to 2 grocery stores within 2 miles of each other. I stock up on sale items we use, with or without a coupon & no more big stockpiles.
I no longer HUNGER for this FEEDING frenzy, LOL. No more extreme anything for me except regret for letting myself get caught up in this crap. What good is having 50 jars of peanut butter if they all expire next week?
PS: I also used to wait in the parking lot for drug stores to open at 7AM, especially on Sundays, when traffic was low & the sales started. Everyone knew me by my first name since I was a regular customer. Since we moved & I broke the coupon addiction, no one knows me in any store now, LOL.
PPS: I found myself emailing companies often too, asking for more coupons and pretending to be a brand new customer wanting to try out their products. It worked every time. Presto, more coupons emailed or snail mailed to me. Lordy lordy, what a trap I allowed myself to fall into…
Oh Debbie :) But rest assured, I guarantee you’re not alone here. I bet if we polled everyone reading this right now, at least 10% would admit to extreme couponing in some fashion or another! I would have too if I weren’t so lazy! Haha…
But it really was such a craze… I remember reading Predictably Irrational over the summer by Dan Ariely (a fantastic book, btw), and a big part of it was how everyone goes gaga for “FREE” anything as if it were in our genes and we couldn’t control it, haha… But then if the cost changed from $0.00 to $0.10 or even $0.01, the excitement dropped sharply! Even though we’re talking about literal pennies!
We are a crazy race, let me tell you… And I fully admit to falling for this “FREE” trick over the years too. (“A Free t-shirt? And all I have to do is sign up for your $200/year credit card??? GIVE ME THREE PLEASE!!” Ugh…)
But it is what it is, and Debbie left us with a few helpful tips from her experiences. Which she aptly labeled as “The best advice in the world.”
- Stay out of stores! See less, buy less, spend less!
- Shop at only 1-2 grocery stores & use their sale inserts
- Clip a few coupons only for items you truly use/need
- Put the rest in the recycle bin
And then also added, “If you truly want to save $$, set up a budget, say $75 a week. Then take this $75 CASH to the grocery store & you won’t/can’t spend more. It worked for us years ago when we were saving for a house, long before the coupon crazies took over my sanity!” Hah!
So what do you think? Is extreme couponing over, or is it just living underground more hiding from its rap? Did you ever get into it, or are currently into it? Tell us all your stories!!
I’m pro saving money, but def. not into spending gobs of time and/or stressing about it… Although out of all the addictions to have, there could be worse things to snort! ;)
// Scary shopping cart pic by schizoform
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!