Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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The Downside to Clipping Coupons

The TLC show Extreme Couponing popularized or rather re- popularized couponing habits, inspiring people all over the country to spend hours each week clipping coupons and looking for store deals in an effort to save hundreds of dollars. The show reveals how people are able to spend just a few hundred dollars for sometimes thousands of dollars in groceries and household goods. But, for some people, couponing, especially extreme couponing may not be worth it.

Couponing takes time. You have to spend time gathering coupons, either from newspapers, mailings, or online. Then, you’ll have to clip and organize the coupons. Some couponers have huge binders that house their coupons. On the upside, organizing your coupons saves time in the long run because it’s easier to locate your coupons. No need to sort through coupons in the checkout line.

To get the most benefit from your coupons, you might also spend hours looking through circulars to see which stores are having sale on the items for which you hold coupons. Of course, then there’s shopping, presenting coupons, bringing the items home and storing them. You can spend dozens of hours a week on couponing, sometimes even more time than you’d spend on a fulltime job.

Other shoppers, and sometimes even cashiers, get annoyed with extreme couponers. Unfortunately, couponing can inconvenience everyone involved with the process. Shopping with coupons is neither quick nor easy. People in line behind you may be irritated at the amount of time it takes you to check out. For some couponers, this isn’t an issue. But, some couponers may not want to inconvenience to others in the store. You can politely warn people that your checkout time may be longer because you’re using coupons, just so they can choose another checkout lane if they desire.

You may end up buying things you don’t need to get other things for cheap or free. You may think it doesn’t matter if you don’t spend money. However, you still have to figure out what you’re going to do with those unneeded items. Some items can even go to waste because they can’t be used quickly enough. Where you’re going to store them?

Couponers on the show Extreme Couponing sometimes build extra storage space to house the bulk. If you have to spend money to store the things you got for free, have you really saved money?

Coupons may be offered for processed and other less nutritional foods. Less often are coupons offered for the foods most healthy for you – fruit and vegetables, milk, eggs, and lean meats. Instead, you may find lots of coupons for snacks, soda, and frozen foods. Chasing these savings, you’ll end up with freezer and pantry filled with foods that aren’t necessarily good for you. What you saved on food, you may end up spending on health care to remedy the issues caused by too much processed food.

Couponing can get addictive. Couponers often brag about how much they’re able to save or accumulate by using coupons. Extreme couponers have said they feel a sort of high whenever they’re able to get $1,000 worth of groceries for just $50 or hundreds of rolls of bath tissue for next to nothing, for example. You may start couponing just to see how much you can save or to see what you can get for free. At that point, logic is no longer a factor in your couponing or purchase decisions. You're just doing it to get a certain feeling.

The goal of couponing should be to save money on the things you regularly purchase. Couponing itself isn't bad. However, it’s important to keep couponing in perspective, to keep it from taking over your life, and certainly to avoid becoming addicted to the habit. As they say, everything in moderation.
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Tuesday, 05 March 2024

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