The show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC has shocked everyone with the incredible potential of coupon savings. It has also exposed the dark side of couponing.
I think the people on that show are likely not as extreme as they were portrayed (it is television after all), however the show has given people unrealistic expectations for couponing and given couponers unfair representation.
If you want to learn to coupon and save 50% or more on your grocery bill, then I can certainly help – and you won’t need to spend 70+ hours a week on couponing!
Realistically I spend 30-45 minutes a week clipping coupons and putting together a shopping list. This is typically for shopping at 2 stores – 1 grocery store and 1 drug store. How long you spend on this depends on how many stores you shop at and how long you have been couponing. My couponing grocery trips rarely take longer than a trip where I don’t use coupons (scanning coupons really only takes a few minutes in a normal shopping trip).
After you set up a coupon system like a coupon binder, there really isn’t that much to it! Coupon sites like mine even match up coupons for you which saves you a ton of time! Just pull the coupons you need, print your list and go!
Sure the people on that show save a ton of money, but how much are they spending to get that savings? I also consider my time valuable. If I’m taking away time from my family then the cost is too high, regardless of the savings.
I think it is entirely possible to save 50% or more on your grocery bill. The savings will vary depending on your family size and eating habits. I do think that everyone can use coupons though. There is a myth that there are no coupons for healthy foods and it is simply not true. They are not quite as common, but nutritious deals are definitely available.
Okay, 1500 sticks of deodorant? 40 years worth of toilet paper? That is just not realistic to me. Sales come in cycles and you should definitely buy a few months worth of the items your family will use or eat, but there’s no need to buy more than that. A good rule of thumb is to buy one newspaper per family member. Then when your favorite pasta goes on sale, you buy more than one box because you have multiple coupons.
For our family of four I used to buy four newspapers per week. Now that I’ve been couponing for a while (and the cost of newspapers has gone up), I have cut back to just two newspapers per week. This really is plenty for our family! We have an extra shelf in the garage to store our stockpile (I could probably eliminate this too if I were more organized), but everything else is just stored regularly in the pantry or cabinets. I am also able to donate on a regular basis, even with my relatively small stockpile.
Please don’t expect to save 98% on your very first coupon shopping trip. Yes, it can happen, but it takes some time and work. You have to collect coupons every week and build up your stockpile. Once you’ve done that, you have the freedom to “cherry pick”. That means you only go to the store to buy the freebies and cheapies.
I am not trying to discourage you at all, I just want to make sure you have realistic expectations. Couponing really is a blast, so I completely understand how some people can become addicted to it!
I suggest reading some of the posts in my getting started with couponing section before you begin. Be sure to subscribe to my free email updates to get couponing tips, deals, and freebies sent to your inbox!
Couponing can be a great way to save your family money, and it doesn’t have to be an obsessive hobby!