If you begin any subject matter with the adjective “extreme”, then a particular kind of thought is probably going to form in your mind – and probably not nice thoughts. Add the extreme tag to the fairly mundane and generally ignored practice of couponing and a smirk, if not a full blown out laugh, might be your first response.
Extreme couponing?! Really?!
Yep, and let me tell you; these folks don’t mess around. Extreme couponers have taken coupon use to a whole new, unprecedented level. So much so, that there is even a television show (titled Extreme Couponing, of course) that chronicles these folks. With couponing on the public radar, here are the top 10 reasons people engage in the ‘sport’ of extreme couponing:
10. Why Not?
As on lady put it, “Why wouldn’t I do it?” It’s hard to argue with her. Once folks learn about the benefits – particularly the immense savings – that come with extreme couponing, it becomes difficult to at least not investigate the matter a little more thoroughly. Who wouldn’t want to walk out of a store with several hundred or thousands of dollars of groceries for only a few bucks? That alone makes the endeavor worthwhile. Throw in the other benefits on this list, and you would think someone would be insane NOT to be involved in extreme couponing. Unfortunately, extreme couponing takes a lot to time and effort, and most of us are lazy. It takes considerable dedication to make it work- and extreme couponing does work folks; it’s the real deal.
9. It’s Fun
Simple and yet the truth – extreme couponing is fun! Most extreme couponers realize all the benefits that result in couponing. Yet, their primary reason for engaging in this activity is simple and to the point – they just enjoy doing it. For many, it gives them a purpose in life – after all, saving the family a generally significant expense is a worthwhile endeavor. There is a satisfaction that comes with being useful and productive. There is also the joy that comes with being successful after putting in hours (and hours) of work to achieve a goal. It takes quite a bit of organizational skill to pull off extreme couponing. It’s so much more than just clipping out coupons from the paper. There is a whole process that has to be mastered to make it work. If you’re passionate about what you are doing, then you probably realize a joy as well.
You know, they have a show dedicated to folks who hoard as well. Well, if you have that particular addiction, then extreme couponing is right up your alley. Virtually every extreme couponer has a stockpile of merchandise on hand in their homes. Its par for the course considering the number of products that accumulate to realize the best savings. But really, why does the single woman in her late 40s really need several hundred bundles of pampers and baby formula if she has no children? For some extreme couponers, it’s all about the accumulation of stuff. They just like to see their stockpile grow, and grow and grow…you get the idea. Some of these folks have stockpiles that are valued at $15,000 – $20,000! That is a lot of soap and beef chunks!
7. Social Activity
Apparently, there are a lot of extreme couponers. Who knew? As a community, there is a good deal of networking between folks who have a passion for couponing. The internet helps a lot with this. There are tons of websites, support groups, informational blogs that support the extreme couponing community. And then there is family. What is surprising is that extreme couponing tends to be a family affair – one that brings family members together in a wholly unexpected way. The kids tend to help mom cut out the coupons and catalog them, the husband goes to the supermarket with wife to help haul all the merchandise (what other time do you know of a husband going anywhere near a supermarket with his wife!). Then, of course, once the friends and extended family begin to learn of the benefits of extreme couponing, well…they want to come around to learn the tricks of the trade. Simply, extreme couponing opens up a whole can of socializing. Who knew?
Where there is a challenge there is also addiction. As one extreme couponer put it, “couponing is my life.” Ok… That said, these folks put a lot of time into making this endeavor a successful one. The average extreme couponer will spend several hours a week searching for coupons, cataloging them, looking for stores with the best coupon redemption deals, etc. Not to mention the shopping trip itself. These folks will spend 5 to 7 hours in the store, including up to 2 hours just for check-out! You have to be dedicated to do this. But for some, this is what they do everyday – all day. Some spend hours actually going through their neighbors garbage at night (a lady actually spoke about this) in order to collect the coupon inserts from thrown away newspapers. Others speak about the adrenaline rush that they get when they walk out of the store after a successful trip. These folks have a stockpile of goods to draw from for weeks (or months) without having to shop; yet, they are back at the store every week. I suppose this would be the extreme, extreme couponer!
5. The Challenge
It isn’t off the mark to refer to extreme couponing as a ‘sport’. These folks take their couponing activities very serious. It literally becomes a challenge to many to maximize their savings with each trip to the store, or to increase the overall value of their stockpile, etc. Saving 70% on $1,000 worth of groceries may sound good to the average person (and it is), but the extreme couponer will want to up this to 80%, then 90%. Others will want to test the limit of how much they can purchase on any single trip, while only paying a minimal amount of cash (if any at all). One extreme couponer who was recently profiled, amassed a checkout bill of $3,159.30 and only paid out of her pocket $43.73. The question for her now is can she do better? The challenge of the extreme couponing continues to propel these die hard enthusiasts to the next level.
4. Better Quality Products
This is one of the more interesting aspects that extreme couponers mention. A lot of folks know what it’s like to have to shop on a shoe string budget. With money being tight, a lot of will opt for generic products in favor of name brand ones. In fact, a whole service industry has sprung up with the idea of catering to this segment of the market (bulk item retailers and such). Interestingly enough, many retailers offer coupons for name brand items to entice people away from generic items. Extreme couponers, taking full advantage of this, can purchase name brand items (and a lot of them) with each shopping excursion, and pay less than what they would for generic items. And with good reason too –have you tried generic toilet paper lately? Nuff said…
Where there is giving there is also profit. There is money to be made with extreme couponing that goes beyond the aspect of saving on grocery bills. As we have already noted, an extreme couponer accumulates excess products that they cannot reasonably use. Some of this goes into their private stockpiles until it can be used (some products, like soap and can goods, have a shelf life of years). Some products are donated to charity. And some products are re-sold. This is actually a pretty good deal for both the extreme couponer as well as the buyer. An extreme couponer can resell their items for, say, half of the sticker price. Since they paid very little, if anything for the item being resold, any more money made (much less half of what it actually sells for) is a winning proposition. And the buyer is only paying half price for an item that they would have to pay twice as much for at the supermarket – again, a winning proposition. I don’t know about the legality of doing this, but hey; America is the land of commerce!
One of the quirks of extreme couponing is that in order to realize the best savings, you have to pick up multiple items of the same product. So, for example, you might end up with 50 boxes of toothpaste, 25 bottles of liquid soap, etc. I know – that sounds ridiculous; but remember – an extreme couponer will walk out of the store with this stuff and will have paid very little, if anything at all. Nevertheless, they tend to have more products then they will actually use in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, the serious extreme couponer will generally have a product stockpile (literally a stockpile – like a mini Wal-Mart) in their homes, most of which will be valued at thousands of dollars. As a result, they have plenty of surplus goods to donate to local charities and food banks. One lady, who was actually featured on the Extreme Couponing show on the cable channel TLC, commented that she had donated about $100,000 worth of products to her local food bank over the course of years of extreme couponing. While the amounts vary, depending on how successful an extreme couponer is, the majority seem to have a giving spirit.
1. Save Money
The whole purpose of a coupon is to save money – at least from the consumer’s point of view. But let’s be honest – how many of us take the time to mess with the things? Who cares if I can get 40 cents off of my toothpaste? For most of us, the saving involved in using coupons amounts to a few dollars at best. Not for the extreme couponer. Amazingly, these folks (if they are worth their salt) will save anywhere between 90% – 100% + on their purchases. It’s 100%+ because some of these folks will leave the store with the store owning THEM money. And you need to understand a very important point here – an extreme couponer’s shopping trip is not your ordinary trip to the store for the week’s groceries. Oh no! These folks will run up a tab that amounts to several hundred to several thousands of dollars. Just one example illustrates this point: Ms. K.C, an extreme couponer for several years. Her most recent excursion to the grocery store amounted to a bill of $1,313.03; yet, once her coupons were tallied, the store owed Ms. K.C $0.31. These folks save money. A lot of it!!
by Lee Standberry