Friday, March 28, 2014

Couponing: Can You Really Save?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I will occasionally watch Reality TV. There’s one show, though, that really makes me wonder … Extreme Couponing. A few years ago I had a co-worker literally laugh at me for cutting coupons. They said it wasn’t worth the effort and was basically a waste of my time since I wouldn’t save that much. People who know me also know that I love a good challenge. To prove my point I vowed to keep a ledger for 1 year to see how much I actually saved. I didn’t want to be obsessed or go overboard so I divided my ledger into 3 columns based on my shopping history and where I shop. The 1st category said ‘Kroger’ (which would tally my amount saved when using my Kroger Plus card – easy since the amount is printed on the bottom of each receipt). The 2nd column said ‘Coupon’ which referred to any monies saved as a direct result of a cut out paper coupon (this could be a 50cent coupon for paper towels or even a buy 1 get 1 free at a local restaurant). The 3rd column said ‘CVS’ which referred to my Extra Bucks and 20% discounts received as a result of using my CVS scan card. Three simple columns focusing ONLY on places I was already shopping at and items I was already purchasing. So … what were my results? That first year I saved in excess of $2,000! I was so pleased with my numbers that I continue with the process today. It doesn't take a lot of extra time and it's easy to record my savings. There’s something very gratifying about saving money; money that can be used for other things like paying bills, college tuition, or even gas for my vehicle.
Back to the Reality TV show Extreme Couponing. I really have to wonder if having a storage shed in my backyard filled with items I either don’t use or shouldn’t use would be worth it. On last week’s episode 2 wives dared their husbands to make the shopping trip for them. They wrote out their list and gave them the exact coupons they would need. Their goal was to acquire $600 worth of groceries for under $100. If they could save the $500 they would have the money they needed to trade in their backyard storage shed for the larger model that would hold more. My question though is WHY would they NEED 64 2-liter bottles of pop and 36 cans of Pringles potato chips? If I was going to go to those extremes I would be donating the food to a local food pantry or sharing it with family and friends, but many of the people showcased on this show don’t do that. They buy things they don’t need just to say they saved. Diapers, toilet paper, Kleenex, cleaning supplies … perhaps, but buying 87 boxes of sugary cereal because you can get it for free just doesn’t seem smart. Don’t they realize it will go stale before they can eat it all?
How about you? Do you cut coupons? What’s the most you ever saved?

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