The Real Cost of Extreme Couponing

If you’re concerned with saving money and intrigued by thrifty living, then you’ve likely watched or at least caught glimpses of the extreme couponing shows currently being featured across the airwaves or read a few articles on the topic. It’s true. People really can save thousands of dollars and build stockpiles enviously able to care for an army people, but what about the costs of such money saving tactics? After all, you rarely get something for nothing.

Be ready to hand over much of your time in order to save money. Viewers watching such a show and who are paying attention will note that many of these extreme coupon shoppers spend the greater part of the day inside the grocery store, and that doesn’t even factor in the amount time it took to find, collect, clip and organize all the coupons in preparation for the shopping excursion. For some consumers, this may well be worth the time investment. For many others—myself included—there’s better, more financially favorable ways to spend our time. Lest we forget, time is money.


Fork over much of your livable space. Unless you’ve got an entire room to devote to storing 57 tubes of toothpaste and 102 containers of laundry soap, you might as well forget about extreme couponing as a feasible financial lifestyle option. Yes, admittedly, there are a variety of ways to stash a stockpile discreetly around the house. I’ve written a few articles on the topic, in fact. But in order to reach some of the staggering savings versus cost percentages touted in these shows and articles, you’ve literally got to be ready to pick up—and store—anything you can get when it’s available for pennies on the dollar. Frankly, a tidy, livable home is worth something too, at least for me and my family. And I’m guessing I’m not alone in saying I like to set my coffee cup on an end table, not a stack of toilet paper packages.

Say “Goodbye” to lenient coupon policies. Retailers are catching on to this fad, and they’re changing many of their couponing policies as a result. From limiting the amount of coupons allowed per item to capping the number of item purchases per customer, extreme couponers are costing the rest of us the opportunity to stock up at a savings when we really need to. For example, I may not want to purchase 37 sticks of deodorant for 25 cents each, but I do in fact want to stock up on my son’s eczema lotion at a steep savings when I can get it. But people who opt for the prior have now jeopardized my ability to do the latter.

Be ready to watch your money go bad, literally. Can one household really go through all those products before the expiration or pull date? Unless such a shopper is actually going to donate a vast amount of their acquired loot to charity, I highly question the practicality of the practice. How much stuff—even if it is entirely free—takes up valuable storage real estate only to be thrown away later because it’s no longer edible, effective or safe to use?

Like most other things in life, I think couponing is best used in moderation. Acquire coupons and use them for items your family uses regularly. You’ll still save money, but you’ll save your household space, your time and your sanity, too!

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

2 Responses to “The Real Cost of Extreme Couponing”

  1. Kelli |  Feb 02, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I totally understand what you are saying. I “extreme coupon” for diapers, wipes and formula for my twins and it is difficult now! Either I have to go on Sunday morning right away to get any stock or look like a fool and feel selfish when I buy what I need and will use….which is a lot for 2 babies…I think the show has hurt all of us that just wanted to save some money, not go to the extreme.

  2. Squeezer |  Feb 03, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Expiration dates on products is usually meaningless unless its a perishable product. I’ve seen expiration dates on paper and laundry detergent. Both are shelf-stable products that never go bad.