Sunday, October 23, 2011

Extreme Couponing... is it worth it?


I like saving money. I like having a full pantry. I like having a little extra that I can share with someone who needs it. I use coupons when I go to the grocery store. I started shopping a few months ago at a store that doubles coupons (up to 99c face value). I'm pretty happy with what I spend on groceries and my savings with coupons and store discounts. According to the popular TV show "Extreme Couponing" (TLC Channel), maybe I shouldn't be...

TLC channel is running a marathon today of EC. They are showing women who shop for hours with hundreds of coupons per trip, and thousands more in their trusty binders. Their pantries are stocked with over $10,000 in products (food, snacks, cleaning supplies, etc) for which they claim to have paid less than $2,000 in total receipts! Primarily, these shoppers are women. However, the show has highlighted a couple of young men who have a couponing addiction. I will call it an addiction, because I wonder if (some) of these people need help. Like the couple who are wanting to move out of state because they live in a bad neighborhood. So they are stockpiling items in order to save money on their total grocery bill, the one place most households can make the biggest dent in their budget, and use these savings for the "big move". I wonder though, did they not just make themselves a burglary and looting target by exploiting their treasure trove on cable? Did I mention this couple might try eating less and putting some of that savings toward a serious gym membership? A lot of extreme couponers seem to be large people... but one in three Americans is overweight, so maybe that is not necessarily a symptom of a grocery shopping addiction?

FIRST POINT: Even if it IS free, poor quality food will cost you a bundle in medical complications. The longer you eat highly processed (junk) foods, the more you can expect to pay for health problems. Eat fresh, whenever possible (fresh food isn't free unless you grow it).

       Every one of these shoppers has a nerve-wrecking check-out experience! I personally do not need the stress. The cash registers have scan limits, so you can't check out more than 'x' scans including scanned coupons in a single transaction. So, the shoppers split their orders into 20+ separate orders. They spend 5+ hours in the store, which might include more than two hours  just in the check-out process! Now, I don't know about you, but my time is more valuable than that! I've got other stuff to do! If I spent a whole day in one store, I would hope it's because I work there!!

SECOND POINT: It takes a LOT of time to shop all the sales and collect all the items you have 'pons for even if you only go to one store. That is IN ADDITION to the time you've spent collecting all those coupons and researching the ads to match sales with coupons to get the best pricing! Some women use 20 to 40 hours a week (nearly a full time job)!... and don't forget the time to unload it all back at home... OH THAT'S ANOTHER POINT!!

THIRD POINT: The space it takes to stockpile all this stuff! If you don't keep it organized, you could end up on "Hoarders: Buried Alive" (another cable show)! Freezers for the frozen stuff, refrigeration space in either multiple refrigerators (power hogs) or freezing less fragile cold items (I hear you can freeze milk and cheese?). Closets, spare bedrooms... oh, there is the college student with a 1-BR apartment! He keeps his stockpile in the kitchen and living room of the apartment. I just think that will be a LOT of stuff to move (student apartments are very temporary addresses....)

What about the guy that buys stuff he will never have a need for ("who cares? It's FREE!")... maybe he donates the feminine products to the local women's prison or battered women's shelter?

Let me make a final point from a business/economy angle:
Q: Why does it matter who buys the 250 cans of tuna/boxes of cereal/bottles of nutri-water? The manufacturers and distributors make the same either way whether 250 couponholders buy the products at one each, or one couponer with 250 coupons nabs them. So what?
A: It makes long term sense to have 250 individual consumers try your product. It doesn't matter if they try it for free, but the long-term effect is that SOME of those consumers will buy that product again with or without a sale or coupon. The one who emptied shelves in four stores has cheated 249 other shoppers of trying the product, and likely won't make a repeat purchase for a long time.

We can expect more restrictions in stores' coupon policies as manufacturers and distributors strive to maximize brand exposure.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Past MidTerm... heading for the holidays!

It's late... again! I had a Structural Geology lab exam today. Gruesome. So this evening while it poured down rain, I crocheted a little, dabbled in my shop ( getting ready for holiday rush, and watched re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on TBS. Else, I'm still learning the ropes of internet marketing, getting my name out there, and attracting users to my site. Not brain surgery, you say, but without an advertising budget, I may need to put a homemade bumpersticker on my car! LOL.. actually, I shouldn't laugh! I actually saw a bumpersticker where the person was trying to get people to click "like" on (his) Facebook page!!

I just got home from Utah this past week! Uploading a few pictures for you! I especially like the 2.7billion year old rock at Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake (top photo)! Definitely worth the trip! Canyonlands (bottom photo) and Arches National Parks are nice, and Upheaval Dome. Discussed a LOT of geology on the trip. Well, it WAS a geology field trip! Camping, long van rides, snow, sun, rain, stars, waxing moon.... good times!

Ah, well... the guts and glory of being a late bloomer! If only I had the opportunities now that I had 20 years ago coupled with the wisdom I have since acquired! This would be a completely different blog! "Everything happens for a reason" (they) keep saying, and "all things work together for good for those who love the Lord (and are called according to His purpose)" ... I certainly hope so!

Love to all my readers!