3 Issues With Extreme Couponing You Should Know About

If you’ve ever admired those people who manage to buy $100 worth of groceries for just $32, then you’ve probably toyed with the idea of trying extreme couponing yourself. And why not? With a little effort, you might end up slashing your costs and working wonders for your budget.

But while extreme couponing might seem like a great idea, you might encounter some challenges along the way. Here are three issues that could make extreme couponing a less viable option for you.

1. It can be extremely time consuming

The time commitment it might take to pull off extreme couponing could be overwhelming. First, you’ll need to actually find those coupons. And while there are coupon apps you can use to speed up the process, you should still expect to have to put in the time.

You’ll then need to organize your coupons by store and product to make sure you’re able to use them efficiently and by their respective expiration dates. To make the most of your coupons, you might also need to hit up a few different stores on a weekly basis.

All of this may be feasible if you have a lot of free time on your hands. If you’re retired, for example, and you kind of get a kick out of extreme couponing, then sure, put in the time and chalk it up to an activity that keeps you busy. Similarly, maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent of older kids and have flexibility during the day when they’re at school to hunt down coupons and drive to multiple stores. In that case, why not do what you can to save your family a little money?

But you may not have the time to practice extreme couponing if you work full-time or are a stay-at-home parent with an infant or toddler at home. Also, even if you can squeeze out the time to find your coupons, think about how much fun it is to go to the grocery store with a two-year-old. Do you really want to repeat that process several times over week after week?

Furthermore, if you’re self-employed, you might come out ahead financially by sinking more time into earning money at your job than seeking out coupons. Let’s say a week of coupon-hunting and store-hopping saves you $50. When you add up the time you spent doing all of that, it may be that you could’ve earned $300 by billing more hours.

2. The coupons you find may not align with your purchasing needs

You may find your fair share of deals once you get into the habit of extreme couponing. But that doesn’t guarantee that the deals you identify will be convenient ones for you to capitalize on.

Let’s say you find a coupon that cuts the cost of the yogurt you usually buy from $1.25 per container to just $0.50. Clearly, that’s some big savings. But if your fridge is already bursting with yogurt and you don’t have the room to store any more, those coupons may not do you all that much good.

Also, in some cases, you may have to buy more of a product than you’d normally buy to reap savings. For example, you might find a coupon offering $2 off frozen chocolate chip pancakes if you buy three boxes. But if you normally only buy one box at a time, now you’re stuck having to find the space for the extra boxes to get the deal.

3. You may not even really want or use the products you buy

Just because you’re able to find coupons for different products doesn’t mean you should use them. It’s one thing to reap savings on an item you buy and use regularly. But if you find a coupon that reduces the cost of a popular face cream from $9.99 to $4.99, you’re not really getting a good deal if that’s not the cream you prefer — say, because you don’t care for its scent.

Also, you may find a coupon that gives you $2 off when you buy $15 worth of products from a specific brand. But what if you only use that brand’s lipstick, which costs $7, and mascara, which costs $6? Now, to get that deal, you have to spend an extra $2 to get your $2 back. Only what might happen is that you can’t find a single product for $2, so you end up buying a $3 eye pencil you don’t really need to get $2 off of your total purchase.

In that case, you really only wanted $13 worth of products. But you had to spend $16 to save $2, bringing your total cost to $14. You didn’t save $2 in this case — you spent an extra $1.

There are other ways to save

While you can save money with extreme couponing, there are other steps you can take to lower your costs at the supermarket and other stores. For one thing, rather than practice extreme couponing, just read your grocery store’s circular to see what’s on sale, and load digital coupons that are useful to you to your store loyalty card.

Next, consider signing up for a warehouse club membership, like Costco. You might enjoy a lot of savings by purchasing household essentials in bulk.

Finally, be savvy about the credit card you shop with. If there’s a card you own that gives you extra cash back at the grocery store, swipe it. But if you’re not getting such generous rewards from your current cards, sign up for a new credit card with a program that works better for you.

It’s true that some people have a lot of success with extreme couponing. But don’t assume you’ll be one of them. And if you do decide to give it a try, don’t fall into the trap of denying yourself income-earning hours to clip coupons or buying things you really don’t want or need just to save money on them.

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