Last week, I watched the ABC show Nightline about “Super Couponers Clipping Their Way to Savings” and it got me thinking.( If you missed that episode, you can watch it here. ) The program focuses on 2 extreme couponers by giving them $50 to go to the store and see what they could get. One of the people they focused on was Nathan Engels who runs the site We Use Coupons. I love that forum, I used it myself when I was couponing regularly. I think its a great site. I highly recommend it to anyone who is just starting out.
I watched the couponers go through the store with the host and pick out all of their items. Both people had different styles of doing things but I was particularly struck at the end of the show when the host goes with Nathan Engels to his home. They show Engels garage full of his stockpile. I looked at all that ‘stuff’ and quickly got the itch to get out and go find a good deal. I kept telling myself “hey, I can do that too!” I know how to get all that stuff free/cheap and have a stockpile that will last me into the next century! But then I saw it. The shelves and shelves full of stuff Engels had saved up. Boxes of sugary cereal, convenience meals in a box, fruit drinks made with about 1% fruit juice and on and on.
I reminded myself of my goal for this year, which was to cut out the processed stuff that isn’t good for me. See that’s the problem with couponing to the extreme. Most of the things you can get free or cheap are highly processed foods that are not healthy for you. So yes you may save money up front buying it, but you are not doing anything for your health in the long run.
I think what I actually missed was the “game” that comes along with couponing! Finding the best deals, putting the scenarios together and doing the math with the coupons. That’s what was fun for me! Towards the end of my extreme couponing, it became all about the “game” of couponing for me rather than what I was actually getting. It was exhilarating to walk out of a store and paying pennies for sacks and sacks of stuff! I loved it and I was addicted! There really was no greater feeling for me than to get a good deal.
I still love getting good deals but my priorities have changed. I’m not trying to say ANYTHING bad at all about Engels or any other extreme couponers. Everyone has their own way of doing things and different reasons for doing it. I’m in no way trying to judge. It just didn’t work for me anymore.
I still feel the need to stockup and find good deals, only now I try to do it with things like toliet paper and cat litter. You can definitely still find good deals on things that are not overly processed, you just have to look a little harder. So for now I try to make as much as I can from scratch, frequent the farmers market to find organic fruits and vegetables and save as much money as I can in the process!