Thursday, April 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Today I will share with you my thoughts on Extreme Couponing- both the practice and the show.

I love the show.  I find it interesting and inspiring, plus it is an obvious interest of mine so it's a natural fit.  I probably will watch it every time it is on.  More than once.

But every time I will probably roll my eyes and shake my head in disbelief.  Because really- why does a woman who is not even married, let alone have any children, doing with an entire shelving unit full of diapers?  And what is a man doing with an entire ROOM of toothpaste?  Why would you buy 23 bottles of Maalox just because they are $.49 each and you never use that product? 

There are things I buy that we don't use- IF- and only IF- I can 1.) make money on them OR 2.) give them to someone I know or love (or don't know at all) who can use them and I got them for free or cheap.  And by make money on them- I mean when I purchase them (I don't have a secret drug store that I run or anything).  Like when I buy $20 of an item and get a $10 reward- but I have $4 coupons on $5 items so that makes my out of pocket $4 cash and I get a $10 store coupon back.  See- I just came out $6 ahead.  Now I can buy something that I don't have a coupon for but we need (milk, eggs, meat, trashbags, you know) with my $10 reward and donate my items I bought that I can't use (medicines, certain cleaning products, etc.) to someone who can.  WE ALL WIN.

When do WE not win?  When folks have to buy as much as they can just to have it and then store it away on their shelves for no apparent reason.  I would like to think that those folks on the shows do donate items- because there is no possible way that they could actually use all of the stuff they have, especially before it expires.  I mean really- how long does a package of dental floss last?  So what would one person do with 40 packages all at one time?  Same with deodorant, toothpaste, cold medicine, salad dressing and on and on and on.

When you coupon, you have to draw a line.  It will take you like two weeks to realize that there are certain things (side eye to the toothpaste) that you can ALWAYS get for FREE.  But there really is only so much a family can use.  You have to find your own comfort level with how quickly you use a product and how much you really need to dedicate of your homes space to storing items.  Every cabinet in my bathroom and laundry room is loaded with extras.  Yes I have extra dish soap and dishwashing soap.  I have at least 8 bottles of laundry soap.  I do have 10 tubes of toothpaste and 10 packages of necessary womanly monthly items.  I have a whole basket in my closet of items for easter baskets and I won't be buying any pasta for the next 3 months.  Nor shampoo for that matter.  My kitchen cabinets are pretty full and I'm contemplating a new storage 'system' for one of my cabinets to better hold our groceries. 

But that is why I coupon.  So that when I find 'necessary' items for my home for free or dang near- I can pick them up and store them away and take that money right out of our pretty tight budget.  I have almost entirely removed all cleaning and personal care items from my list- because we have been able to get them for almost free or at an exceptionally good deal and now we have plenty for a good long while.  My grocery budget has dropped, at least by half, now that I have a handle on couponing. 

And by 'have a handle' I mean that I don't feel it necessary to run out and buy every deal.  I trim coupons for items we use, and stock up on them when I find them cheap or free.  When we have enough of someothing (3 months supply is a good guideline) I either don't buy anymore, or I buy more and help my sister (single mom of three kids) with bags of stuff each month AND send bags of stuff to the food pantry.  Both of which make me feel good and help others.

There are at least 2 weeks a month that I only have to buy necessary perishables (milk, eggs, bread, fruit, some meat) when I grocery shop- along with whatever 'deals' that store has for the week.  Then I make our menu based off of what we have on hand.  And yes- I have purposely googled for recipes to make with Grands Biscuits and ground beef- because we had plenty of both.  But it works for us.  It works for me.

I suppose I should shut up and put my soapbox away- if that is what I am doing- but I do think that it is one thing to coupon to save money and be generous...........but a whole nother thing just to pack away your stuff like some prize.  Because that stuff will rot away and get gross.  Not much of a prize.

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