Extreme Couponing: hot topic, but pointless?
Brad Tuttle has this piece for Time Magazine‘s Moneyland section that’s making the rounds on Twitter this week: Extreme Couponing – Never Hotter, Yet Never More Pointless.
Even with though extreme couponing offers the potential to save big—with or without breaking the law—many personal finance writers don’t care for it. The folks at Bargaineering, BrokeProfessionals, LenPenzo.com, WiseBread, and YesIAmCheap have all bashed extreme couponing (the show and/or the idea), mainly because even these frugal-minded folks have better things to do with their time, and/or they don’t like or wouldn’t use many of the foods and products discounted via coupons.
For the most part, these writers were taking shots at extreme couponing even before retailers changed policies to limit shoppers from scoring the eye-popping savings like those on TV. In the past few months, CVS, RiteAid, Target, Publix, and Kroger are among the stores shifting their coupon redemption rules, often making it impossible for crafty couponers from snagging items for free like they used to.
Yes, I’ve seen the perplexed comments in the financial blogosphere to why anyone would take the time coupon when there are other things frugal people can do with their time or to earn money. Brad is not just picking up a topic at random. That discussion is out there.
My answer to that has been: I live in southeast Michigan, where the recession hit hard and earlier than in the rest of the country. I personally know people who have been laid off, taken furlough days or been put on longer workplace shutdowns than usual, taken pay cuts, or had a small business go under, and are scrambling for any money they can get.
In this atmosphere, couponing makes a lot of sense, especially when used in partnership with the beyond coupon tricks I also teach. My local readers need every trick they can find to stretch their funds.
And as far as the coupon policy changes go, yes, there have been changes in recent months. The shifts in the Monroe market were relatively minor details, but the changes were particularly noticeable in the Toledo market.
But I have to point out there ALSO were noticeable changes in local coupon policies and store promotions before even the pilot show of Extreme Couponing hit the air. I can say that because I’ve been teaching coupon / grocery classes in Monroe / Toledo area since March 2009. The first rewrite of my presentation was needed just six months later when some of the store promotion rules started shifting.
Anyway, Brad’s article is an interesting read with lots of backgrounder links. I want you to pay particular attention to the last line:
Devoting a half-hour or hour a week to round up and use coupons sounds reasonable. But four hours each and every day? Haven’t you got something better to do?
If you follow my method, it’s only going to take an hour and a half a week. I’ve timed each step. Here’s a link to the coupon class presentation I gave a week ago.
And about those “junk food” slams in the comment section on his article? That’s a myth I also enjoy busting. Here’s my healthy food archives.