Adventures In Extreme Couponing (Part 2)

When my roommate suggested that we could take a European vacation with all the money we would be saving from what we learned at the the Extreme Couponing seminar, I had to groan and laugh at the same time. The Extreme Couponing  TV reality show often show someone piling $1,000 USD worth of groceries into a shopping cart, handing over a thick bundle of coupons to the cashier, and paying 10% or less of the total balance. The goal is to pay ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for everything.

After receiving our five copies of the San Jose Mercury News on Sunday morning, we scanned through the coupon inserts. As I suspected, we may have a problem with extreme couponing. Many of the coupons weren’t for items that we typically buy every week.

Here are a few coupons that apply to me.

  • A $1 USD off coupon for Brut After Shave. This is something that I buy when I can’t afford to buy a $50 USD bottle of Diesel cologne. (Since the Great Recession started in 2008, I’ve gone without a decent cologne for years.) Do I really want to stock up on five bottles of Brut After Shave to save five bucks? Not really.
  • A $10 USD off coupon for the 70-count bottle of Claritin allergy medication. Before my father passed away, he used to buy me generic loratadine when he visited the pharmacy at Kaiser Permantente because it was much cheaper than buying it elsewhere. Even with the coupon, Claritin is still too expensive. Costco has a 365-count bottle of generic lotatidine for $13 USD. That’s a much better deal.
  • A $1 USD off coupon for Johnsonville sausages. Although this isn’t something I would normally get, sausages can be divided up and kept frozen for individual servings. Is this a good deal? Only if I can find it on sale somewhere.

Many coupons require purchasing two or more items. Extreme couponing has become so popular in recent years that manufacturers and stores are losing money as store shelves are cleared out when an item goes on sale. If you have to buy twice as many items to use a coupon, this may reduces the savings and the incentive to stock up on that particular item. You may have to work harder to find better deals.

Unless one of us wins the lottery, a European vacation is out of the question. The underlying assumption is that $900+ USD would be saved on $1,000 USD worth of groceries. From the videos I’ve seen, this plays out in two ways: the shopper either banks the unspent money into a savings account or pulls out $100 USD to cover the final bill total. Any money we save from extreme couponing will probably buy something shiny. Maybe a new iPod Nano?