If you’ve seen the show Extreme Couponing at all, you probably think that the shopping trips they display just take a few minutes to prepare for. This is one myth they portray on the show, and here’s a list of other things they don’t show or tell you.
- It Takes Time to Coupon
It takes hours of planning to take a $2,000 bill and get it down to $100. Extreme couponing like you see on the TLC show is a part-time or even full-time job in regards to the hours put in.
- Extreme Couponing Isn’t for Everyone
The average person won’t put in all the time to be an extreme couponer. But if the show got you excited that’s great! Using coupons will save you money. Start off with a goal of saving 10% to 20 % off your grocery bill. As you learn the tricks of couponing you can work on increasing your savings, or find a happy medium where you save plenty but don’t go to the extreme to use every coupon.
- Extreme Couponers DO Pay for Groceries
You can’t live off extreme couponing. (Unless you want to eat cereal and processed foods all the time). Most coupons aren’t for whole foods. The majority of coupons are for processed foods. Coupons for meats, milk, and fresh produce are rare (though they do happen sometimes, but you can’t count on these coupons regularly). Therefore, even the most extreme of coupon shoppers will still have to pay for these basic necessities to maintain a healthy diet.
- FREE Groceries Aren’t ‘FREE’
It costs couponers more than the $100 for that $2,000 in groceries. In addition to the time investment, many use clipping services which do charge a fee per coupon. That $2,000 grocery shopping trip could cost them as much as 50 cents per coupon but as little as 2 cents. Lets say they got 1,000 items for $2,000. If they paid 10 cents a coupon for 1,000 items that’s an additional 100 dollars in expense. So really it was $200 spent out-of-pocket. Sure, that’s still amazing, but it costs twice as much as what you see on the show.
- Store Policies Vary
Stores have different coupon policies – the way coupons were allowed at the store on the show may not be the same at your local store, even if it is the same ‘brand’ of store. Some will double or triple coupons, some don’t. Some limit the number of ‘like coupons’, some don’t. Some will even limit the number of coupons per transaction. Find out your local store’s coupon policy before shopping with coupons. Don’t assume just because you saw it on TV that you can do it too.
- Extremely Entertaining
The Show is EXTREME couponing…. This isn’t about Saving Sally going to the store and getting $100 in groceries for $55… thats not exciting TV… But that would be exciting for you if you’re trying to budget for your family and pinch pennies. You don’t have to coupon to the extreme to get the savings you need to make the most of your budget.
- Donating Instead of Hoarding
Some people extreme coupon to help others. While the TLC show has yet to highlight this (it focuses on the hoarding side) there are some extreme couponers that do it for the good of friends or charities. A generous extreme couponer will get 100 boxes of cereal for free then keep 20 for their family and donate 80 to a homeless shelter.
- Mistakes Do Happen
On the TLC ‘Extreme Couponing’ they make the check-out look nerve wracking but they have yet to show a couponer actually have to deal with mistakes, whether the couponer’s mistake or the cashier’s. In real life check-out mistakes do happen. A couponing shopper may miscalculate a transaction. A cashier may not be well trained in taking coupons. It is important to remember that everyone is human. Be prepared to deal kindly with a cashier overwhelmed by your coupons or to face the embarrassment of having to decide whether to buy or return something that didn’t work out to be a good deal.
- Extreme Couponing Websites
Learning to use coupon websites does take time and effort. You have to learn the couponing language including all of the common coupon acronyms, names of different types of coupons, and various shopping strategy terms. They make it look easy to get online and instantly know all of the deals, but there will be a learning curve to overcome if you are new to the coupon process.
- Overnight Success is Unlikely
Some of the extreme couponing subjects shown talk of having used coupons for only the past year or so, whereas most extreme coupon experts did not get to that level overnight, or even within just one year. You can certainly learn the tricks of extreme couponing in less than a year. However, considering sale cycles average every 12 weeks and some coupons are released only around holiday seasons (like baking supplies go on sale plus coupons are released around the Christmas holiday season) it takes at least a year to create a stockpile diverse enough to get to the level of shopping only hot deals and basic fresh items.
Well, now that you’re feeling back to reality, don’t despair! You can learn to use coupons to save big on your grocery bill, whether or not you want to be an ‘extreme couponer.’ Head over to my getting started guide and let me know if you have any questions!