The binder. The baseball card inserts. The crazed look of getting 50 Snickers bars for next to nothing. The stockpiles of mustard and toilet paper threatening to overtake the basement. Yes I am talking about Extreme Couponing. But this isn’t just another story about the jaw-dropping antics of people that the show profiled. This is about the desperation of a woman trying to save her family money on the grocery bill. Sigh…here’s my story…
The first time I watched Extreme Couponing, I think my mouth was hanging open the whole time. Who are these people with their magic couponing powers? We like mustard! Do we have room for 30 bottles? Can I turn the hall closet into a stockpile room? I admit, the show hooked me. I was desperate. Our grocery bill was out of control and I was looking for ways to rein it in. My foray into couponing began.
So Hubby and I armed ourselves with our coupons and marched into the grocery store, ready to bring it on. 3 hours later we dragged ourselves out of the store and dragged ourselves home. We congratulated ourselves on saving sooooo much money. Never mind what we actually spent was more than our monthly grocery budget; we saved money because we used coupons! Yay us! We were coupon warriors ready to save on anything and everything.
But after a while, the coupon glow began to fade. After a few marathon grocery shopping sessions, both me & Hubby were beginning to dread going to the grocery store. We both began to whine like petulant children, “But I don’t wanna go to the store! I wanna stay home!” We began to avoid the grocery store, but you can only go so long without perishable items. We were suffering from coupon overload and there is only one cure for that: put the binder down.
Our first step in coupon recovery was to simply stop using them. For our sanity, this was required. Yes we could have saved 75¢ on the cereal, but at this point, it wasn’t worth it. Our second step was to shop at a store that didn’t take coupons. This meant shopping at our local Trader Joe’s until the edge wore off. In our last step towards coupon recovery, I discovered meal planning. This singlehandedly has helped pare down our grocery bill more than any little bar-coded pieces of paper could. I began to plan meals based on what we already had. If I was missing an ingredient, then I bought it. But not 5 of it…
The problem as I see it with Extreme Couponing is that it causes you to purchase items you never would have bought, had you not had a coupon. Before I started couponing, I never in my life bought a bottle of honey mustard. Now I had 3. I bought shampoo I hated, cereal I hated, and toilet paper that I well… let’s just say I wasn’t a fan.
Our home is a much calmer home now. No one is dragged kicking and screaming to the grocery store. When I get the Sunday paper, I still go through the coupon section. But I only cut coupons that I will definitely use. I cut out coupons for diapers for my daughter or coupons for coffee that we actually drink. And the only stockpile in my house is the mountain of toys in the living room. The binder has been given away and life is much simpler.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I need to go to my pantry and toss out the 5 bottles of expired salad dressing.