Extreme couponing is considered a saving hack, but quite frankly, it isn’t a very good one. A saving hack is supposed to be a simple, effective, and usually painless act to reduce the amount of money that you spend. It may save coupon holders a few bucks (or sometimes even hundreds of bucks), but extreme couponing puts a real dent in a person’s spiritual and civic compass.
Think about it. Extreme couponers are guilty of any of the following emotionally bankrupt behaviors:
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Blurring the Lines Between Your Wants and Others’ Needs
The sole purpose of extreme couponing is to take as much as you can for as little as possible. There’s no real end to extreme couponing other than hoarding items. Extreme couponers have stockpiles of stuff stashed away for their personal use.
I doubt these folks actually use everything they buy before it perishes or before they forget about it.
It’s not uncommon for extreme couponers to clear out entire shelves of sale items. Other people may want to take advantage of a coupon deal, but find themselves walking away empty-handed because an extreme couponer was there first and took everything without thinking about their fellow shoppers.
An “Anything Goes” Mentality
In addition to glamorizing greed, the practice encourages an “anything goes” mentality. Conceivably, you could stack where you use a manufacturer's coupon in tandem with a store coupon, in addition to crushing double-coupon deals. This means that at certain times, you can use a coupon and it'll be worth twice its face value. Combine that with using coupons without expiration dates on a single item, and you can get some items virtually for free.
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But just because you could, does that mean that you should? If you’re looking to save on groceries and toiletries while simultaneously maintaining our society’s current levels of human decency, use any of the following balanced approaches:
1. Be Selective About What You Buy in Bulk
Extreme couponing takes buying in bulk to a cartoonish level. Consider buying a three- to six-month supply of non-perishables or toiletries instead of lifetime supplies of everything and anything that can fit into a shopping cart.
2. Coupon With a Cause
If extreme couponing is your passion, how about sharing the bounty of an epic haul with those who could really use it? And to make it easy, the giving doesn’t have to be 50-50 — at least, not the first time. Start with a 90-10 spilt and see how your heart warms from largesse. Then try it again.
3. Slash Your Extreme Couponing Calendar by a Third
Does your extreme couponing calendar have you at your local grocery store every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, rain or shine? Try cutting back on how often you visit by a third — especially since your visits are likely for sport, not need. Scaling back without completely eliminating extreme couponing could give you a more balanced approach to shopping.
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The Bottom Line
You don’t have to lose your soul in pursuit of financial freedom. In fact, approaching money management from a place of contentment will ensure that no matter where you are in your financial journey, you’ll always feel like you have enough.