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Tonight The Learning Channel (TLC) aired a show called Extreme Couponing. I have previously been approached to do such a show and have refused for a variety of reasons that to me have only been strengthened by this show. I know a lot behind reality shows is hype and misdirection, but turning people off from easy ways of saving money is something that makes me cringe. In today’s economy we need to be showing people how easy this is, and not overwhelm them or make them think we are insane!!
If you have followed Southern Savers for any length of time, you know that I put a high priority on making this a lifestyle change not a crazy hobby. Over the last few years, many of you have sent e-mails overwhelmed by the couponing world and the potential it has to take over one’s life. My response has and will always be the same: start small, and remember why you are couponing:
- There is no need to hit every store in town. Everything will come on sale at each store, so pick one to frequent for deals.
- Pick one store and follow that list, buy whats on sale and slowly build your stockpile. As you get more comfortable then pick one grocery store and one drugstore to follow on a regular basis.
In regards to the show, for many that watched this will be their first taste of couponing and will only cement their fears: that couponing is an overindulgent, irresponsible, and rude practice.
Like many things, couponing is not inherently good or bad. But we can use it in ways that are good or bad. Let me contrast a few of the things folks mentioned tonight:
- Couponing Does Not Take Money From The Store.
I’m not going to go into all the technicalities (for that please read my post on the redemption system behind coupons), but know that the store’s are reimbursed by the Manufacturers. Remember that the Manufacturers budgeted for coupons, made them, and put them into the grocery shopping world.
- Not Everyone Who Coupons Is Crazy or Obsessed.
Thousands of people visit this site everyday and none of them have ever reported doing anything like purchasing 1,100 boxes of cereal. Maybe three or four at time but that’s about it… (If you do buy thousands then please don’t tell me).
- Couponing Does Not Need Take Too Much Time.
This takes as much time as you want it to. It is work, admittedly, but you can spend one hour a week organizing your Sunday inserts or a couple hours a week checking sites and printing coupons from the web. But saving money doesn’t require hundreds of hours. Read up on how to be frugal with your time.
- We Do Need To Stock Up To Save — But Only For 6 Weeks.
Sales run in cycles, that’s part of the concept that helps us save so much. This means you need to buy a few extra but it also means they will come on sale again. Six weeks worth for most families is maybe 2-3 of each item. If you feel a huge desire to buy more than you need then donate them to food banks, church pantries etc. (If you do buy for charities always ask your store to special order for you before clearing shelves.)
In the end, I am quite certain that this show will revive intense discussions concerning couponing, and I want all of you to be able to discuss couponing with intelligence and grace. If anything, lets show the world that it is possible to coupon in moderation and to coupon with contentment.
(one note: we are truly frugal folks and don’t have cable so I watched online clips and got info from a lot of your emails and friends. If you have any other insight or thoughts from the show feel free to share)