It’s hard to talk about personal finance without talking about money-saving strategies. One of the more radical approaches is extreme couponing, a relatively recent shopping phenomena that has created the “coupon mom” (I’m from England but I know how to speak the lingo….).
In a nutshell, it’s all about trying to save as much money as possible when doing your shopping. It’s about doing so in a way that allows you to pick up as much groceries as possible.
It’s spawned a whole industry and language, with a variety of retail supporters of the trend.
SmartSource coupons, Red Plum coupons, Coupon Suzy coupons, Food Lion coupons, Stop and Shop coupons, coupon codes, couponing tips organizations, and the list goes on.
Given its focus on saving money, the recent global recession has brought the concept into the spotlight. Sites like Groupon have also made couponing fashionable and accessible. And the more extreme approach has been further highlighted by the popular reality TV show, Extreme Couponing.
So does it make sense?
The Good About Extreme Couponing
- Extreme couponing is a good way to take advantage of inefficient pricing and discounting by retailers, allowing you to get good value for money. The average coupon mom learns how to coupon to take advantage of this.
- The whole process focuses the mind – through analysis and investigation, couponing can make you more targeted in your purchases and more aware of basic budgeting principles.
The Bad About Extreme Couponing
- Extreme couponing can certainly save you money, but it can also encourage you to spend on things that you really don’t want or need – purely for the satisfaction of saving. It can, in other words, create a false economy where you don’t actually save any money at all.
- In the most extreme cases, the coupon mom takes out extra storage simply to find a home for what they’ve been buying. If the hoarding involves additional cost extreme couponing can again create a false economy.
- It can be addictive. It’s one thing for extreme couponing to be a harmless, occasional hobby. It’s another thing if it takes over your life. The TV show has shown many examples of individuals that have become unhealthily obsessive.
Extreme couponing isn’t for everyone and it does say something for a culture of excessive consumption and hoarding.
Others have also argued it’s not the most efficient way of spending your time. If the average coupon mom puts as much effort into making additional money or better managing their finances, instead of using extreme couponing to save money, they could get even further ahead in their finances.
But it is a strategy that is valid for many people. Having some form of financial discipline is better than having no form at all, particularly if you are in a tight financial bind. Regardless of your views, extreme couponing is here to stay, even if ‘moderate couponing’ is perhaps a healthier approach for most of us.