Thanks to J.D. of Get Rich Slowly I received a HUGE number of hits on Tuesday’s post titled I Am Not Stealing. In that post I mentioned that I do not consider myself to be an extreme couponer despite the fact that I can walk into a store with a wad of coupons and walk out with two or three bags worth of free items.
A few commenters said they disagreed with my classification of extreme couponers, so without further ado here are the reasons I don’t think I fit the category.
I watched the premiere episode of Extreme Couponing and in my humble opinion the individuals they interviewed were obsessed with clipping coupons and searching for sales. One woman confessed to canceling time with family and friends so that she could drive to nearby sales and another asked her child and pregnant friend to go dumpster diving in search of coupons. I don’t do anything like that.
At most I receive coupons from two newspapers. I buy one copy of the Sunday edition of the Washington Post and every so often my mother-in-law gives me her copy. I clip coupons on Sunday mornings while I eat cereal and watch Aarti Party or Cooking for Real on the Food Network. I also follow a number of blogs that list drugstore deals where I learn about additional coupons I can print from home.
I’ve never paid attention to the exact amount of time that I spend clipping coupons, looking through the circular and searching online for deals, but I’d estimate it’s less than thirty to forty minutes. I primarily shop for bargains at CVS and Rite Aid. There are two CVS stores and a Rite Aid within a mile of where I live. I do all of my bargain shopping on Sunday mornings, which is also the day I typically shop for groceries.
Because all of the stores are located so close to where I live and so close to one another I do not spend a significant amount of time driving from store to store. I circle the items I want on the circular, arrange my coupons by store and head out the door.
I try my best to shop for things that my family will use. My parents and grandmother are on limited incomes and I like picking up additional items so they won’t have to pay for them. I think it’s easier to give them something when I can tell them I got it for free. They are very proud individuals and somehow it’s easier to take something from me when I tell them I didn’t have to pay much for it.
I won’t allow myself to buy more than a certain number of free items at a time. I won’t, for example, purchase twenty tubes of toothpaste or fifty bottles of shampoo. I will buy only one or two of these items when they are free or practically free. If I already have a number of those items at home I simply won’t buy more. There is no sense in stocking the shelves of our home with a bunch of products we’ll never use. I am a minimalist and a clutter-free-fanatic at heart so I keep my bargain shopping to a minimum.
If I have a small stockpile of items left by the end of the year I’ll create gift baskets and give them away to friends, families, strangers and charities. It’s a great way to give back to those in need.
Since I started bargain shopping I have paid pennies on the dollar for just about every type of personal product available. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price or even close to full price for toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, dishwashing liquid, detergent, etc.
If you have drugstores in your area it’s not difficult to get items for free. There are a ton of blogs devoted to helping you shop, locate coupons and get great deals. I let those bloggers do all of the work for me. I match my coupons to their sale lists and buy stuff for next to nothing. I don’t shop for deals every week and if I’m not in the mood to go shopping I don’t.
The trick is not to become obsessed with bargain shopping and not to spend hours of your life trying to get great deals. There are many ways to spend your hours and days and I for one don’t want to waste time loading my shelves with products that will take me fifty years to use.