Is Extreme Couponing Worth it?
The blogosphere, especially frugal living blogs, is full of recaps of the extreme couponing show on TLC. I must admit that as a new couponer of eight months, I was intrigued to see the savings pile up as I watched the TLC episode this week. I routinely save 50 to 60 percent on our grocery bill, but much of that is due to taking advantage of store sales with about half being coupons. It does add up, don't get me wrong, but the hourly wage isn't all that great when I break it down.
I was curious to see a real pro in action. The couple that was featured spent about $50 and received about $700 worth of groceries. A huge savings! On a good day, I may get $200 of groceries when spending $50 - but I have never reached the level of an extreme couponer. She saved $650 - nothing to scoff at!
What She Bought:
Part of her haul was thirty-five bottles of Maalox. If we've ever had one bottle of Maalox in my house, I am unaware of it. They would have to be drinking it like milk to be able to get through that much Maalox before it expired. What's the point of buying thirty-five bottles of Maalox regardless of how cheap it is?
This woman and her husband were in the grocery store for 5 hours. This is after spending hours clipping coupons, matching up sales and planning their route and transactions once they got to the store. Let's assume they each spent an additional five hours. That is twenty hours total in order to save $650. It breaks down to an hourly wage of $32.50 per hour. Not too shabby, but not Donald Trump wages by any means either. I don't know about the rest of you, but my free time is pretty valuable to me and taking up ten full hours of mine, AND my husband's time, each week will have to pay really well to make it worth it.
Favors Called in:
For this couple to save so much, they relied upon a store deal that paid $10 back when you spent $50 or more per transaction. Therefore, they broke their purchase up into 13 transactions of just over $50 to maximize the refunds they received. But here's the hitch, the store only allowed one refund per customer, so the couple called in their friends to come down to the grocery store and be their body for the $10 refund. First of all, those are really good friends. Secondly, that is eleven more people that likely spent at least 30 minutes each by the time they drove down, waited in line and got home again. That 5.5 hours brings the hourly wage down to $25.50 - but that isn't the end of it. As a couple they are now obligated to return the favor some day - that day and time yet to be determined. They may not have incurred a financial debt, but there is certainly a debt to be paid. For $10? It's not worth it to me.