Another view on Extreme Couponing

So while I was working on my last update talking about the great deal we got at Albertson’s, I came across an article that talked about the downsides of extreme couponing. I felt the need to comment on this writers comments here, for no other reason that I simply felt like it.

The article was written by G.E. Miller over at 20 Something Finance. (click that link to see his post)

The article is well written, so that’s not my issue. In fact, I’m not certain what my issue with it is, but I suspect we will find out when I start commenting on his points.

For the sake of this post his comments will be in Blue and my responses will be in Red.

  • Zero Societal Contribution: More than anything else, I do not see the societal value in extreme couponing. Those who spend 6-8 hours per day trying to reap rewards at the expense of others, could be contributing in a much more positive way to society. The savings that they enjoy are subsidized by a net increase in costs to others. That free stuff has to come from somewhere. Instead of spending 6-8 hours a day working very hard to get free things from others, why not spend that time making money doing something positive in the world instead of being a leech? I’m not sure I agree with you on this one G.E. The coupons are put out by the companies and the stores for people to use. Often times you will notice that when a manufacturer puts out a coupon a store will have a sale and/or coupon for the same item. If this really costs the stores and companies money they wouldn’t handle it like this. They do it for a reason, it brings in business and spreads their product around. I wouldn’t consider it being a leech, a leech is more someone who just takes and takes, coupons are given to you and you use them. It’s more of a supplied distribution of products than anything. If companies didn’t want people to use them, they wouldn’t make them.
  • Time: In order to enjoy the types of savings extreme couponers do, you have to spend a hell of a lot of time at it. People have quit (or refused to find) jobs so that they can spend their time doing this. It takes a lot of effort and work. It’s not work that I’d personally want to spend my time on. I completely agree, it takes a TON of time. to do it to the level of the TV shows is insanity. It becomes like working two full time jobs just to use your coupons. That is to much time. Unless you are responsible for feeding a small army, then I could understand it.
  • Questionable Ethics: In order to be one of the pros, you have to do some questionable things. One video depicted a woman dumpster diving for coupon inserts and I’ve heard another tactic is to steal inserts from neighbors Sunday paper’s. And even if you attain your coupons in ethical ways you have to be comfortable in knowing that you’re completely taking advantage of the brands and retailers. Again I’m on your side. I wouldn’t steal the neighbors papers or dive through dumpsters for coupons. This is crossing the line for me.
  • Crappy Product: One episode depicted a man who gave away all the free product he received to charity. That’s cool. But it’s also a rarity. Others simply stockpile and hoard product in their basements or garages. Scanning the stockpiled shelves of these extreme couponers, I noticed something. Everything on those shelves is mainstream name brand product: Coke, Pepsi, Crest, Tide, Ragu, etc. It’s stuff that I personally don’t buy and would not use. And if you were to use all that product and try to live off of it, you’d probably die of a heart attack or cancer in a few years. I think I’ll take a pass on that. I’m not sure I would call this crappy product. But everyone can have their own opinion. Personally having a small stockpile of products is a great thing, especially when you have a large family and can use that to rely on for food and so on when you are short on money. To the degree the show is it seems a little much. I think if I ever had a haul with coupons like on the TV show I would donate most of it to charity because I wouldn’t need to stockpile that much. The way I see it is after I have what I need (or think I need) in my personal backstock I would just donate the overage to a local food bank. The extreme couponers on the show that coupon and donate their stuff to charity I have a lot of respect for. If you can’t afford to buy it and want to help out using your other skills like couponing for deals is an amazing thing.
  • Addiction: In order to be really good at extreme couponing, you almost have to be addicted to it. And unlike an athletic hobby or cooking or something productive, I can’t see it as being a healthy addiction. You are right, it is an addiction. but just like ANY addiction done to much is un-healthy. It’s not fair to compare an extreme addiction to an athletic hobby, that’s like comparing Coke to a bottle of rain water, they are in different categories. It’s also unfair to call couponing unproductive. A lot of families use coupons to get what they need because otherwise they couldn’t afford to have enough food. Some people use it so they can stay off welfare and state money.

I completely respect G.E.’s point of view but I also think he has a bit of a closed minded view on the world of couponing. Take a look at his post and read through the comments. There is some good discussion there.

I guess my point is if companies and stores didn’t want people to use the coupons, they wouldn’t give them away. What you should focus on is how people sell coupons on eBay for profit.

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