Extreme Couponing Did Not Work For Me

Extreme Couponing Did Not Work For Me!

Extreme couponing did not work for me. I put in a lot of effort. I cut out coupons until my fingers grew calloused. I tried (and failed) keeping the coupons in binders. I joined coupon groups and obsessed over sales ads…for hours. HOURS! I went shopping almost everyday.

Extreme Couponing Did Not Work For Me
Extreme Couponing needs the kind of love and devotion I don’t care to give.

The truth is, I spent more money than I ever saved. I bought more food and deodorant and shampoo than I could possibly consume before the expiration date. I’ve recently started cleaning out my pantry and the cabinets under my sink. I have really become aware and shocked about how much “stuff” I have wasted due to my adventures in extreme couponing.  I have several brands of deodorant and toothpaste stockpiled that nobody even likes. It is expired. All of it!  When stores have big sales it’s probably because they need to get rid of the excess merchandise, which means it’s likely close to expiring, at least closer than some other products are. At least that is my theory. I mean, toothpaste is usually good for more than a year or so, isn’t it? Mine wasn’t it. After closer inspection, some of it expired only a few months after I purchased it. I never should have even put it in my stockpile, or bought it to begin with.

I’m feeding expired cereal to my chickens. They love it. I have box upon box upon box of expired cereal. I wish I had just donated it before it expired. I think to be good at extreme couponing you really need to be highly organized. I mean, TYPE A to the max. You need an inventory list just to keep track of the food. You need a coupon system that helps you keep everything in place too. You have a lot of coupons to keep track of and to organize every week. You also need self-control. Just because it’s a good deal doesn’t mean you need it or even want it. Buying stuff just because it’s cheap is still a waste of money.

I never got anything for free. I never walked out of a store with a cart filled with things I didn’t have to pay for. I was never handed money back without paying a dime first. I think these coupon deals are the stuff of TV legends. Most stores have a lot of rules regarding coupons. They have limits and policies that vary from cashier to cashier and store to store. Not to mention,  there were times I was treated badly for using a handful of coupons in one transaction. I was often asked, “How much cereal can you really eat?” I think they just stamped my forehead with the word “gluttony” as they moved my excessive shopping haul across the conveyor belt. It was sometimes pretty uncomfortable. They also questioned my coupons a lot. They assumed they were fraudulent. I don’t think I ever used more than 14 coupons at a time, so I can imagine people who use even more get the stink-eye pretty often. I actually wrote a letter to the CEO of one of our super market chains because the cashier was so rude to me. Which leads me to how much time is spent on extreme couponing.

Time is the biggest expenditure. You spend time collecting coupons, cutting them out, organizing them, and organizing each shopping excursion with a flyer, a calculator, and a list. You spend a ridiculous amount of time going from one store to another. You spend time arguing with cashiers and looking up store policies, writing letters, searching for online deals, making a stockpile, arranging your mountain of merchandise…keeping track of when it expires. It’s like a full-time job. Except, a full-time job probably pays better.

I still use coupons. I look through flyers. I spend a little time each week organizing what I need to buy and buying it, but I no longer do extreme couponing. It’s just a waste of time and expensive for me. I don’t have the ability or the patience to keep my shopping missions that organized. Plus, I really don’t like shopping that much.

Over the holidays I will put a little more effort into getting a good deal. The thing is, if the effort out ways the joy, use, or value of an item, I’d rather just go without it. There are other things I’d rather put my time into. Plus, to be a good extreme couponer you have to truly love shopping because you are doing it all the time. It’s a lifestyle.

I’d rather be blogging.

I guess that’s why extreme couponing did not work out for me.


Have you ever tried extreme couponing? How did it work out for you?



22 thoughts on “Extreme Couponing Did Not Work For Me!”

  1. I only ever use coupons for things that I know I’ll buy anyway. And I always get mad at Husband for buying more of things just because they’re on sale. Of course, we have exactly no storage in this apartment, so stockpiling isn’t even an option… that’s helped a lot. :]

    1. My husband is a deal hound too. Right now we have 5 jars of salsa in the cabinet…haha! I think the lack of space is a problem for most people. We do have a basement area, but usually once something gets put down there it is forgotten.

  2. I’ve never gotten into extreme couponing for all the reasons you’ve stated. I do take a look at coupons in magazines or which come in the mail or with the Sunday newspaper, but I’ve learned not to get all excited about them because they rarely are for items I’d buy anyway. If they are, great. If not, they go into the recycling bin. I think this is particularly true of the food items. I’ve watched a few episodes of extreme couponing and see the absolute crap going into their shopping carts, and can’t believe they think they’ve scored some great deals when it’s all processed food high in sodium, fats, calories and sugar. Okay, getting off my soap box now. As you said, Lillian, I’d rather write a blog post, short story or my current writing project.

    1. The unhealthy food is a big problem. I could get a lot of things for almost free, but they weren’t things I wanted to eat or feed my family. Maybe that’s why I was never able to walk out of the store with a basket of free stuff. I think the best thing I stockpiled was laundry detergent. I got some good deals and since I am not brand loyal I was able to put a lot away for the future.

  3. When I had teenagers at home, I used coupons. In those days, I had never heard of “Extreme couponing” but saved something like 10%-15% using regular couponing and manager’s sales. In those days it was all about large quantities and saving time (I worked full time, bought many canned and prepared foods, and could not have easily put in the hours on more couponing) Things are harder now for most families, so I think spending the hours–a part time job, really–on couponing might be a great way for young families to make ends meet. It might even make the difference for a mom choosing to stay home.
    However, now it’s just Hubz and me in a much smaller home with only occasional flurries of grandkids. I do keep a small stockpile of household items like toilet paper, but focus more on quality food than quantity.
    I’m glad couponing strategies are there for those who can make it work, but it mostly just doesn’t apply to us.

    1. A few times I was able to cut my grocery bill in half…or get twice as much stuff for the same amount of money. I totally agree that couponing is really helpful for people on a budget and especially for moms who want to stay home and have given up that second income. I think, for me, couponing made me feel like I was contributing to the family and fulfilled my need to have a project to do. When Tiny-Small was a baby I would get pretty bored sometimes. I missed having a job. Of course, I am filling that need with art and blogging now. I wish I was better at coupon strategies. I am impressed with the people who can make it work for them!

  4. I know a few people that have gone through the same thing with similar results.

    I personally think unless you need that volume of stuff, it’s a waste of time and storage space. That being said, there are certain things that people should NEVER pay full price for. Toilet paper, laundry soap etc. These things go on sale regularly so yeah, you should have a stash at home. I think it’s always a great idea to pay attention to sales but putting hours of work in to save a few dollars or better yet, spending more money in fuel for your car because you have to go to 5 stores to get the best deals.

  5. I suck at couponing. I’m pretty brand specific on certain things and totally fine with buying the store brand on others… which means I’m already getting a pretty good deal. The only coupons/deals that work for me are the in-store sales that you can use your store card for and when they print out coupons with your receipt based on what you actually buy. I DID try the whole clipping coupons from the paper thing, but honestly I think it cost more in my time then I ever saved!

    1. This is the same experience I had. I think being brand specific probably saves you money in the long run too. I’ve wasted a lot of money trying different brands out and not liking them.

    1. That has happened to me so many times! The coupons are on the counter and I am too tired, lazy, cranky to turn around and go back for them. When Tiny-Small was a baby it was even harder. I had to bring so much stuff just to go to the store. The coupons got forgotten a lot.

  6. I’m not “extreme,” but whereas you spend some of your time doing ridiculously beautiful art, I cut coupons. I guess we all have our thing? And I can’t paint.

    1. I still cut coupons too. I just don’t plan on using all of them like I once did. My father-in-law was always saying, “You’re going to go broke if you use all of those coupons.” Haha…he still cuts them out of his paper and sends me the ones they don’t use. Yes, we all have our thing. Plus, you do a pretty good job getting free things through your blog like crazy bicycles and poise…we cannot forget the poise! So, I’m pretty sure your thing is more lucrative than mine. One day I will get a hobby that makes more money than it spends…maybe! I’m not holding my breath.

  7. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. I get free stuff pretty regularly, but never at the level seen on TV. It depends on the stores in your area. Rite Aid is my go-to store for free stuff. I’ve always been a neurotic organizer and a shopaholic, so that helps! As a grad student on a budget, up to my eyeballs in debt and no job, couponing has been really helpful for me and allows me to still spend money on stuff I want. I carry a copy of the store’s coupon policy with me in my coupon binder just in case I have a problem with a cashier. No problems yet! I also donate extra stuff that I get for free like toothpaste or deodorant. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t get every deal but then I usually just take a break.

    1. I’ve thought quite a bit about why it didn’t work out for me. I think one of the problems is living in a small town. I don’t have access to a lot of the really good stores for couponers unless I drive about 90 miles. It wasn’t always easy to plan for those big shopping trips because we usually had other people with us and too many stores to get to. I’m really glad it has worked out well for you! I know how difficult it is to be a grad student on a budget. Thank you for stopping by to share your experience!

      1. I couldn’t imagine having to drive that far to shop! And here I am complaining about going to school in a small city and how there aren’t as many stores as back home haha. I can see why it didn’t work for you. But at least you’ve got more free time and a nice treat for the chickens 🙂

  8. Couponing in general has worked for me. I have not specifically done it in an “extreme” way–although I do have a fairly supplied stockpile. So, since I’ve learned how to coupon I have not actually spent anything on any of the products I get–and if I do it’s always $1 or under–the best is when I can get the store to pay me for the product–which happens fairly often and I know that it’s a deal I can’t pass up. There are also times where my friends and family will buy the products from me as well and then I “net” a profit. Couponing does take time to learn, but when you learn how to effectively use them then it’s worth NOT paying for items. If anyone has any ?’s re: how to coupon I’d be happy to share or answer any ?’s that anyone has.

  9. Late to the party, sorry. I’m a huge fan of coupons so I was interested in what you had to say.

    I’m not sure how extreme my couponing is, but I use a lot and I save a lot. I don’t have tons of time to put into it, so you won’t see me doing the all-day mega-shipping trips. I do, however, regularly save between 30% and 70% on my regular shopping trips, depending on sales and what I need. My monthly shopping budget with three teen boys is about $300.

    That’s the key for me. I buy what we need and what we use regularly. I don’t do huge trips that require days of planning, but I do spend a couple of hours the night before building a list based on sales and what coupons I have, and if there is a bargain, I will buy as much as I can. Last year I spent $18 in January on laundry detergent I’m still using it. As for expired goods, the dates on the packages aren’t always firm. I’m careful to not stock too far ahead, but I don’t get too concerned over the printed dates. Food can be good for months and in some cases even years past those.

    There are some weeks I don’t use many coupons, but others, I use a lot. they can be very effective but saving money isn’t worth giving up my normal life.

    1. The way you coupon makes total sense to me. I am sure three teen boys eat you out of house and home too so I am really impressed that you only spending $300 a month. That is pretty amazing. I am glad you have found a balance that works so well for you. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

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