Extreme Couponing Hidden Costs
The TLC show Extreme Couponing can be impressive for the first time-viewer. Who wouldn’t want to scoop up carts full of groceries for only a few bucks, or better yet – have the store PAY you to take it home with you? All of this happens one neatly packaged one-hour show. However, the show is unrealistic for a myriad of reasons, most of which the coupon newbie isn’t aware. Here are just a few reasons why the savings are not nearly as great as they sound.
Over-Inflated Savings Statistics
Take this headline for example: Extreme Couponing: Family Saves $40,000 using coupons. Clearly, those statistics are over-inflated. What non-couponing families do you know that spend $40,000 on groceries to begin with? That’s $3,333 per month!
The savings they are quoting contain hundreds or in some cases, thousands of items they never would have purchased if not for the coupons. Spaving, a term used to describe spending money to save money, is out of control on Extreme Couponing. To really come up with an accurate account of savings through couponing, you would have to compare current expenditures (minus the costs of couponing — see below) against prior expenditures. Undoubtedly, those statistics would not be nearly as impressive.
Extreme Couponers BUY Coupons
Many of the people featured on Extreme Couponing actually buy coupons through clipping services. While technically it’s illegal to buy coupons, clipping services out there that will skirt this technicality by giving coupons away but charging for their time. Most charge anywhere from $.02 to $.50 per coupon. Legal ethics aside, the point is the money they pay to purchase these coupons are never computed in the savings totals you see on the show.
Coupon Printing Costs
Printer ink to print coupons alone can be very expensive. Plus, many extreme couponers have purchased extra printers for their home to keep the coupons churning out. Paper is the least of the printing expenses, but should not be overlooked either. While the cost of printing coupons varies greatly depending on what kind of printer you have and techniques you use (ways to save on printing here), it shouldn’t be overlooked. At the minimum, it’s a few cents per coupon.
Costs of Stockpiling
Extreme Couponers spend a lot of time organizing their stash of groceries, commonly known as the stockpile. It’s their big investment, the goods that all those hours of couponing has provided. However, there are costs associated with maintaining a healthy stockpile.
- Electricity to power the extra refrigerators/freezers they need to accommodate their stockpiles
- It’s not just the storage units/shelving for the Extreme Couponers’ stockpilethat cost money, but the storage does as well SPACE. Take this equation into consideration: Value of your home ÷ Square footage of your home = Value of each square foot____________ ÷ _______________ = ____________So, if you live in a $250,000 home and it’s 2,500 square feet, then each square foot is worth $100.
Stores Shown on Extreme Couponing Almost ALWAYS Double Coupons
I have yet to see a store featured on TLC’s Extreme Couponing that does not double coupons or have some sort of store loyalty program. Usually it’s both – a double whammy for coupon clippers. Where I live, there are no such stores. That automatically rules out any hope of me being able to duplicate a haul like these couponers.
The one bright spot of this show is that it is teaching coupon tactics that do work when applied to normal shopping. The problem is that just about everything else shown is unrealistic. What are YOUR thoughts on Extreme Couponing and the costs related to it?