A few years ago, right before I started this blog, I was pretty deep into extreme couponing.
A friend had introduced me to the show on TLC and I was shocked at how much money people were saving by using coupons. So, I decided to try my hand at extreme couponing to save money too.
Why I Started Extreme Couponing
Back at that point in my life, I had lots of free time but very little money.
I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and didn’t really have any thing fulfilling in my life. I had already gotten divorced and I was living alone with no one to come home to other than my pets. My friends from college were no longer close by since I had moved back to my hometown for a job.
Of course, I could hang out with my family, and often did, but other than that, I had no real hobbies. I was so used to being constantly busy with college and work that I now found myself going crazy with boredom.
After seeing the show on TLC, I decided extreme couponing would be the perfect new hobby for me because I’d be able to save so much money!
Taking it Too Far
For a couple of months, I spent hours hunting down coupons. I’d find them online and print them at home and at work to get more than one copy. I bought multiple copies of the newspaper to get extra coupons. When that wasn’t enough, I bought coupons online on eBay for things I “had to have” so I could save even more money.
It wasn’t long before I had stuff stashed everywhere. I converted a closet in an extra bedroom to a pantry for extra food, paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissue. My laundry room housed nearly 20 containers of cat litter! I even stored extra bags of dog and cat food in the shower in my extra bathroom.
What I didn’t realize was extreme couponing wasn’t actually saving me any money. It was costing me money to buy coupons on eBay. I spent money on ink to print coupons from the internet. Plus, I was buying tons of stuff I didn’t really need at the grocery store. Sometimes the food I was buying was expiring before I could use it because I was buying so much. Since I was only feeding myself, I didn’t really need multiples of most of the items I was buying, but I bought them anyway.
Why I Stopped Extreme Couponing
I finally decided I had to stop extreme couponing because it had become more of an obsession than a hobby. Here are a few of the reasons I stopped extreme couponing.
1. I Wasn’t Saving Money!
The biggest reason I stopped extreme couponing was because my finances were out of control. Once I started tracking my spending, I realized I wasn’t saving any money. This is why I am an advocate of tracking your spending! You can get started and see all of your accounts in one place with Personal Capital.
Some of the things I bought with coupons were going bad before I could use them, which is a huge waste of money. Plus, I realized that without coupons I would only be spending about $25/week on groceries to feed myself if I truly bought only the things I needed instead of buying things with coupons to “save money”.
This was around the time I started this blog and made my first budget. Back then I was truly broke and had to severely restrict my spending in order to be able to pay the minimums on all of my debts. I had no extra money to buy things just because they were on sale.
It doesn’t make sense to overdraft your checking account and incur a fee of around $30, or rack up high-interest credit card debt, in order to buy things with coupons, which is what I was doing.
If you have high interest debt, consider refinancing with a loan from Credible.
2. It Took Lots of Time
The second reason I stopped extreme couponing is because I realize how big of a time suck it really is. I would spend hours finding coupons, clipping them, and organizing them. I would make my shopping list and spreadsheet to track my savings and get the best price. Not to mention the time spent in the grocery store getting my items and divvying them up into different transactions for the register.
I also grew tired of doing multiple transactions every time I went to the store. It became a big hassle.
Finally, I decided my time was worth more than saving $0.50 on green beans. I realized I could be earning money with my time instead of spending money, even if the things I was buying were pretty cheap after using coupons. Even something simple like taking surveys for cash with Survey Junkie would have helped my financial situation more than using coupons.
3. I Was Tired of Clutter
As I started reading more blogs, I became more interested in the idea of minimalism and ridding my life of all forms of clutter. By no means will I ever be a full-on minimalist with one plate, glass, fork, and spoon. But, I was tired of having to sort through a bunch of stuff to find what I was looking for.
Clutter is not only an eye-sore, but it also weighs on your mind.
Having more things means taking more time to clean, maintain, and care for them. It means more laundry to wash, dishes to scrub, and for me, more procrastination of these dreaded tasks.
Living with less has been freeing and it’s something I’m still working on to this day.
Next time you get ready to head to the store for your grocery haul, don’t forget to ask yourself if extreme couponing actually makes sense for you. It may be ok to use coupons now and then, but don’t fall into the traps I did.
Don’t buy things you don’t need. (Who really needs 20 containers of cat litter?) It doesn’t actually save you any money! Putting money in your savings account is the only real way to save money.
Most importantly, don’t forget about the value of your time. Surely there’s something more valuable you could be doing instead of clipping coupons!