Wednesday, January 30

Extreme Couponing... I hate that show

I started couponing while pregnant with my oldest son. I wanted to get rid of my husband's credit debt and save a little. When we decided I should stay home after Tristian started having medical problems couponing helped us live within our means. Realistic, ethical couponing makes that easier. I've met many couponers that are awesome people down to earth, smart, practical, moral, realistic, generous. I hate the image that the show Extreme Couponing gives couponers.

Do I stock pile? Yes, a little bit... REALISTICALLY!

We just bought 31 Alba, Vitabath, Deep Steep products (green, organic, natural, etc) for $1 each (that's going to be tomorrow's post). They will be for personal use and gift baskets.

When we found tomato paste cans for 15¢ a can when a grocery store was clearing out a buy we bought 50 of them for $7.50... but guess what, we used all 50 well before the expiration dates. Tomato paste makes speghetti sauce, pizza sauce, chili soup base, anything that requires a tomato base of some sort you can make from tomato paste. So yeah, we stock piled them. Those cans were dated out more then a year for expiration, so we just had to use one a week to use them all by the time they expired. Not an issue at all and we saved a bundle not buying pizza sauce, spehgetti sauce, tomato juice, etc... for recipes.

When we got a bunch of manufacturer toothpaste coupons for 75¢ off toothpaste in the packaging with our electric toothbrushes (it was a fold out of ten coupons in each package, it was an awesome 'thank you for buying our toothbrush') and then found a store sale of the same toothpaste 2 for $1.50, I bought 20. I did some figuring to see what we could use before they expired and sent the rest off as part of a care package to a shelter I'd heard through word of mouth was really struggling to be able to afford personal care items for those it helped. I'm still not sure my Father's forgiven me and Mom for clearing him out of those travel shampoos and soaps he stockpiles when we made that care box up... ;-)

When we found eco friendly name brands detergent clearanced for $1-$3 a piece for ones that are normally $10+ each you better believe I bought a ton them. When I found Tide detergent for $5 a bottle (half price) I bought ten, used ten $1 off tide coupons I had from magazine, newspaper and even baby product inserts and sent the receipt in with a rebate for $10 back when you spent $50 on proctor and gamble products. I ended up spending $3 each on Tide detergent.

Do I buy subscriptions just for the coupons? Yes, yes I do. So what? Everyone is happy. The magazines get money for their subscriptions. The manufacturers get someone who wants to see their ads, and if a product we try is really good- my husband and I are both the types that we tell people about it- so manufacturers are happy again for more word of mouth. The stores get something that is just as good as legal tender to them and I get a deal.

Have I traded, sold or bought coupons? Absolutely. There are legal ways to do this. If a coupon doesn't say non transferrable or not valid if sold, transfered etc... then it's not an issue. I haven't couponed much after having my youngest and am just thinking about starting again. I imagine that there's been a bit of a backlash form Extreme Couponing and I bet more say this now. As of now I haven't even looked into finding trading circles. As for buying them from Ebay, it can be cost effective if it's an item you know you will buy and you figure in the cost of buying the coupons towards the amount saved. I generally tried to make sure that I sold enough to cover what I spent buying others. Which basically made it just another form of trading. However, I currently don't even have a Paypal account. After the third time they locked the account up because someone somewhere tried to hack into it a couple years ago I never reinstated it, didn't feel safe anymore.

Now as much as I dislike Extreme Couponing, I care even less for store managers or cashiers that give couponers a hard time. I've worked for a grocery store in just about any position you can imagine and several you probably have never considered. So I know what I'm talking about on this. It is just bad business practice to hassel a couponer that is using coupons in a valid way. And 'too many coupons' or 'being a habitual coupon  user' is not an invalid way unless the coupons actually state a specific limit the couponer is ignoring. I remember a story this summer about a couponer being refused by a Kroger store manager because she was a 'habitual coupon user', just ridiculous.

Manufacturer coupons are like legal tender to the store. Giving the cashier a coupon for $1.00 off is just like giving the cashier a one dollar bill. Stacking them with store coupons is no different to the store then using the store coupon alone- and stores want them to use that coupon because it gets them in to the store to spend money. Why should the store care if the money is the manufacture's through coupons or the shopper's from their pocket or a mix of both? My experience is the managers that have issues with coupons don't understand the premiss of how the coupons work for the store. Hopefully Kroger Corporate took care of that situation. They at least should understand how bad it is for the bottom line of a store to refuse money.

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