Extremely-Frugal Couponing: Do Some People Go Too Far?

I came across this article on WSJ.com, Hard Times Turn Couponing Into an Extreme Sport, which shows a picture of Erin Libranda of Texas, with her haul after she saved more than $1,000 at two supermarkets.

I’m all for getting free stuff. Things like toilet paper and paper towels can don’t spoil, unlike food. But sometimes, I think it’s better to just buy what you need. The furthest I’ll go to get a deal is to buy four boxes of cereal, telling Mr. Saver not to open all them all at once, because I know they’ll go stale.

As I’ve said in the past, I tend to use my coupons for toiletries and sundry items. I usually have a nice stock of toothpaste, laundry detergent and deodorant (I recently got two free Ban deodorants thanks to a sale price and doubled coupons). These things can last a number of years.

Jody Wilson, 33, got turned onto the couponing Web site AFullCup.com last March. Since then, she’s posted nearly 9,500 messages to the site’s forum. “I became extremely addicted,” says the credit analyst from Battle Creek, Mich. “There’s deal after deal after deal.”

Notice she used the word “addiction.” – 9,500 messages in a year is nothing to sneeze at. Who has room for all that stuff? Does the food get used, or does it spoil? Is it worth getting something for free if it’s just going to go bad before use?

But when do you have too much food? Sure, you can buy an extra fridge or freezer and load it up, but really, can you use it all before it gets freezer-burned or spoils?

Nathan Engels of Villa Hills, Ky., can’t resist loading up on free products. Mr. Engels recently erected a 6-foot-tall tower featuring the 1,142 packages of Jell-O he had got for nothing. He brags about his jam-packed freezer holding 30 pounds of meat, 50 pounds of cheese and 200 bags of vegetables.

Having 1,142 Jell-O boxes is insanity. Hell, if you have more than a dozen, I might give you a questioning look and a shake of the head. Cheese might last, meat tends to go quickly, and 200 bags of frozen veggies are probably safe to keep for a year or a bit longer. I wonder where all these coupons come from, though, and also wonder how much of their spare time is spent on getting these “great deals.” Maybe they’re sacrificing family time or neglecting housework.

Many times, cutting coupons is a good idea. I’m sure there are a lot of couponing boards out there where people trade coupons to simply save money on an item they buy on a regular basis that has a fairly long shelf life. But some of these people seem to have unhealthy hoarding tendencies.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject — are they hoarders or super-thrifty shoppers?

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73 comments to Extremely-Frugal Couponing: Do Some People Go Too Far?

  • I think stockpiling is great when done reasonably. If your family goes through pasta sauce like it’s out of style then by all means buy a bunch when it’s on sale (or possibly free!) but people who over-buy stuff they will either A.) never use or B.) let go to waste and in the process clear off a shelf for someone else who actually needs the product is what I do not agree with! πŸ™‚

  • Annette Keachie

    I have watched this show a few times, and I think some people go way over board with this, when you have to order a freight to get all your stuff out of the store or have 20 shopping carts full of food, and other goods.. In Canada we have a rule about this, and limit the quantities taken; because we think of other people, and not just ourselves… It just goes to show you how selfish people can be, like what about other shoppers in the store….? Selfish pigs… I can understand tight circumstances, but when you buy out the whole store you really need to consider other people who may be wanting or needing those items too…..

  • kpieczyn

    My two cents. Yes, I think the jello example is extreme. I, myself, have always had two freezers because I live 30 miles from the closes supermarket. I use coupons more now that I ever did, but I only use it on things I’m going to use.
    I do think extreme couponing costs some money: takes time to plan, schedule, and manage your travels and coupons. I also find it costs more to travel to the stores, that I may not normally go to just to get a couple items on sale.

  • I think people should only get what they can reasonable use before the expiration date. If they want to get more and donate, and consider using the time as helping others than that is great. There are many people who can benefit from their coupon shopping. But, to keep so much that you can never use in a reasonable time yourself boarders on hoarding or greed, even if it is free. If you get so much that you end up wasting the food, then you shouldn’t get that much in the first place, free or not. It is always good to be wise and moderate and not excessive in whatever we do.

  • Christine

    Wow seeing everyone’s comments can be overwhelming. I wish I could be saving more on my grocery bull by adding more coupons, but I usually buy what’s cheapest anyway and which is usually the store brand and there is no coupons for that, but if I can get another brand on sale and use a coupon for something we will use I certainly go for it. My grocery bill is about $400 a month for a family of 7 and with needing to buy special items for some for medical needs. It is very tight but I make it work.

    • LisaB

      I’m the same way…I buy what is cheapest which is usually a store brand. If I have a coupon and it is for a name brand, it’s got to be cheaper than the store brand for it to be of any interest to me. Couponing can be time consuming…and if you watched the show, many of the couponers actually paid coupon services to clip and send coupons and/or spent hours clipping and planning the shopping trip…that and they subscribe to many issues of the same newspaper each week and/made bought shelving towers, refrigerators, freezers, and other storage to hold all the products. I suppose if you are single without a spouse, children, and/or have a lot of free time it can be done, but I’d rather spend my time enjoying life with my family and saving money by stocking up when a product is on sale and using the occassional coupon πŸ™‚ …oh and buying healthier food options!

  • LisaB

    I am surprised to see little mention of the food products that people are actually getting with these deals. Did anyone else notice that the couponers on the TLC special were stocking up on nearly the same items…Maruchan Yakisoba noodles, soda pop, candies, canned pasta sauce, pasta noodles, and other junk food? One guy bought a ton of Total cereal to donate and another bought a chicken, but the carts primarily consisted of junk. And, it was no surprise that all but one of the couponers were overweight…wonder why? Don’t get me wrong, I am a little overweight and like a good deal too, but I’m not going to buy sodium packed noodles and feed it to my family for the sake of saving a buck!

  • Ann

    I think it’s awesome. I always look at coupons as being only for the most expensive items and some you cannot combine with so many. These people have it down to a science. I commend them however im not going to stockpile enough to last me years. Some things like toothpaste and other items that dont go bad i say im all for it. We are always running out of toilet paper, laundrey det, shampoo and other things. Im gonna look into these sites online and start collecting coupons from people i know. I think some take it to the extreme however i would be happy just to get free shampoo.

  • Carol Linnell

    I saw the show, too, and couldn’t believe my eyes. I would like to give this a try. Currently in the news they are warning of high food prices for .2011. Very scary! I hope it’s possible to cut my bills, since I live in Alaska and are food prices are off the hook! I think being prepared by having food stored is very smart, especially if you live in a are prone to earthquakes or weather extremes. This makes being prepared affordable!!

  • Patricia

    Let me say this.

    I was just watching the Ellen Degeneres Show and saw a woman who’d bought several hundreds of dollars of groceries for mere dollars. I’ve heard of these kinds of savings before; it’s not *new* news. But just like recycling and managing our finances in general, it’s not about doing what someone else is doing but what we can fit into our lives best.

    Growing up, my parents always had a separate freezer for meat, vegetables and other items that would perish otherwise. With today’s Energy Star appliances, you can run these appliances for much less than previously. So yes, for me, it makes great sense to stock up, especially in the winter so that I don’t have to run out last minute when I’m having dinner guests or want a steak but don’t wanna shovel out the car.

    It’s also a matter of time. As a single woman, I’m not interested in spending several hours clipping and organizing coupons, but I am very much swaying toward beginning a more disciplined clipping routine. For me, it’s not even about the products themselves, but what else I can do with the money I don’t spend in those areas. I consider saved money a free tank of gas, a new coat, a pedicure or a cell phone bill. When you put it in those terms, who wouldn’t be willing to spend maybe an hour or so a month to have something else you really want or need?

    I’m clippin’!

  • Allyson

    I watched the show on extreme couponing and was fascinated and impressed by the time and effort these people put into saving money and being prepared for the future should there be a job loss. Hoarding materials (perishables) is not wise due to the dangers of food borne illnesses but buying what you can use within the expiration date is wise shopping. I found myself jumping on the band wagon but as a single adult who does not eat processed foods and especially steers clear of ANYTHING with high fructose corn syrup, I see no use for most of the coupons that come out for foods that are full of preservatives and high sugar. So I do plan on stocking up on soaps, shampoos, detergents, TP, etc.

    Quite frankly I think most people who stand in line behind couponers are actually just a little irritated that they themselves are being duped by the ridiculous cost of food packaging and marketing. As food prices will continue to go up I think more of us will start to be a little wiser in our spending. It would be a good idea for these extremers to shop when no one else is shopping as I would be irritated if I was watching some walk out with 9 carts of free groceries myself … but shame on me, right! Great to share these surpluses with those food pantries and needy folks.

  • momma0820

    I understand how most of you think that extreme couponing is too much. Right now i would love to be able to get that amount of products for what they pay! I am a single mother of two kids. I drive them 10 miles to school every day. I dont have much income and gas prices are soaring. I mean really? a gallon of gas costs as much as a gallon of milk! I for one would love to save as much money on these items so I can afford other things for myself and my kids. We use $500 a month for food and it still never seems to be enough to last. Apparently I am doing something wrong. If i could save more money on food I would be able to enjoy time with my kids because I am not worried about money. We are at the point where my kids know that I have no money to spend on them. At Christmas my daughter was opening up one of her presents and she looked up at me and said ‘you didnt buy this for me Mommy! You dont have any money.’ Just once I would like to be able to tell my kids that i did have the money for it because our groceries did not cost that much.
    It’s not all that bad if you want to save money. If i could coupon like some of those people out there I would. My whole family could use help with food, not just me. If I spent what these people spend on food, Your darn right i would be stocking up!! I would not only stock up at my house but at my families houses too! why cant we all be prepared. There is nothing wrong with that. If I was stocked up like that I wouldnt have to say no to a friend or neighbor who comes over asking for food or something to borrow.

  • Frugal

    I understand the need to save money, which I do by buying store name brands and eating meatless meals once a week. What puzzles me about extreme couponing is a person who needs to buy a freezer to stock up the food he/she buys on sale, that freezer is going to use electricity which will increase your bill so maybe you are saving 20 in food but spending 30 to run the freezer?. I saw this with MIL at some point we had to explain to her that buying things she doesn’t need or cost money to store was not much of a saving afterall.

  • wendi

    I am only speaking up because I do not like this article. Yes we are entitled with our own opinions but to say some of the things you have written and to not know for yourself about couponing to the degree that these ‘extreme couponers’ do is a bit….lame! Sorry to say. I am not certain but I am pretty sure you are the one giving a dirty look to the single mom in the check out with 4 kids and has 20 coupons and is price matching. You were blunt in your post, I am blunt in my comment πŸ™‚

  • Ok, I’ll admit, I got a good laugh out of this post πŸ™‚ I myself am an extreme couponer, and just recently started, as a matter of fact. I even started my own blog, especially for other military spouses, so they could learn how to save and live frugally as well {most of us military spouses are SAHM’s and are living on one income}.

    I suppose ‘stockpiling’ can in a way be considered ‘organized hoarding.’ But it’s only a psychological issue when the couponing takes over your life and interfers with you daily activities and family. If you rather cut coupons and shop till you drop, leaving the kids at home with the hubs 7 days a week, then, yes, you have a problem. Otherwise, shopping once or twice a week {like myself} shouldn’t be cause for concern…as long as you keep your stockpiles organize as not to be featured on A&E’s upcoming Hoarder’s episode πŸ˜‰

    -Michelle @ Military Wives Saving

  • Christina

    If more people couponed and saved money we would not have the tons of money problems this country has.

    • Michelle

      And think of all the people we could put out of work because the companies are not making any money from their products!

      • Christine

        Manufactures reimburse grocery stores for the coupons. If manufactures were losing money on coupons they wouldn’t distribute them. In fact, coupons are one of the reasons why grocery stores can’t completely go to UScan check outs.

  • Auntie Sally

    In the years between college & my marriage, my family & friends had a swap circle. Linnet (vegetarian) worked at Gillette & could get free personal products, my sister was on WIC & couldn’t use up all the dried fruit, peanut butter & cheese, I shopped the food shelves with my housemates (we owned a chest freezer we got from a moving sale), & Mom was an avid coupon hunter (BOGO). It worked out well for everyone to swap extras, and coined a few jokes: “Does your dad like prunes? How MUCH does he like them?” meant there were multiple pounds looking for a home.
    I’ve been working hard to get the most value at the stores, & donate my extra coupons to a church group, to be re-circulated.

  • I almost never use coupons. Whether or not they will save you money really depends a lot on where you live and what kind of stores you have. And what you eat.

    For example: I eat a lot of brown rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

    The only local store that used to double coupons, doesn’t anymore.

    Coupons on canned tomatoes are NEVER a better deal than the #10 can.

    I can occasionally find a store sale on brown rice, but it’s usually at the drug store without a coupon.

    The frozen vegetable coupons are always for the brand that is $2.50 to $3 a pound. They do go on sale, but generally you will get it no cheaper than $1.50 a bag including a coupon. But notice the bags are shrinking to 12 oz these days. Still, that’s $1.50 a pound. Convenient, but loss leader veggies are usually $1 a pound or less. And at Trader Joe’s, frozen veggies are about $1.25 a pound (no coupon).

    I realized at one point that I was spending a fair amount of time looking for and clipping coupons, when I would manage to use one or two a month. I don’t buy deodorant or shampoo often enough to make clipping coupons worth my while. Very occasionally I was able to get a deal on pasta ($0.50 a pound), but that was about it. I like the idea of coupons, but my price book tells me that they don’t work for me.

    The biggest effect on my grocery bill (slashing it to less than half) was switching to a “generic” diet of just grains, beans, fruits, and veggies, and buying the grains and beans in bulk.

  • People who do extreme couponing (and believe me I am in a unique postition to know a lot of people like that) do one of a few things: 1) they help out family members and friends by serving as a central pantry from which their elected group can freely take what they need. 2) They resell the items at flea markets or online and other similar events 3) they take pride in supporting church pantries, food banks, shelters and similar organizations.

    In fact I do not know of one person (and I know literally thousands of couponers) who routinely tosses out anything they bought because it has spoiled. People talk about donating and rotating stock to make sure there is no waste constantly. Only once did I hear a lady lament that she had to throw out a few boxes of something because she had misread the date and it had gone bad despite her best efforts to make use of it.

    Super Coupners see themselves as stewards of their family’s finances and are committed to making their budgets stretch as far as they can go. Not unlike a professional athlete who tries to run a bit faster, score more points, or throw a bit further the next time he plays. They are also equally committed to helping people who do not have the time or knowledge that they do about smart shopping do the same by donating items and freely sharing sale information and shopping tips.

    As far as it being an addiction – anything can become an addiction. But what better addiction to have? If the whole country suddenly became obsessed with helping out as many people as possible and spending very little money in the process how bad a world would this really be? Instead people compete to see who can get the most charge cards maxed out and who can die with the most debt. It is destroying our country.

    New couponers can get caught up in the excitement and feel like every time a deal is offered it is the last time they will see it and they need several hundred of them. Seasoned couponers know that they don’t need more than a 6 weeks supply of something as sales go on cycles and they will always get a shot at another sale to stock up with in a few months. As soon as the honeymoon phase of their new found hobby wears off many people become more realistic in their shopping habits.

    Finally, I am not naïve enough to believe that there are not a few individuals out there who do not have a genuine hoarding problem. Illnesses like this do exist. But when a person has an addictive personality and begins to hoard things – is the object of his hoarding to blame or is it his addictive personality?

    Coupons are not to blame if people use them to buy food that they then hoard and waste. Coupons are a valuable tool and not unlike a good hammer can be used to build something or destroy it. The actions are the responsibility of the one swinging the hammer not the hammer itself.

    Couponers, even super couponers, all have unique situations and individual motivations driving them when they shop and store there purchases. No newspaper article, no matter how detailed it has been written, can fully speak to the heart, soul, and motives of the person they are interviewing. It s best not to judge what someone “needs” or “doesn’t need” as their particular situation is never fully revealed.

    Be very careful when you start judging people and assigning what is a need and a want. God forbid the next time an article is written about someone it may be YOU and we may have to take a look at YOUR life – and decide whether you NEEDED to spend money on that large screen TV, the Hummer, the Fishing boat, or another pack of smokes.

    • Nicole

      @Colleen: I’m glad the post has inspired such a great discussion among readers, and I appreciate your opinion. I’m well aware of the good that can be done by folks with a bunch of coupons — many people donate their freebies to those less fortunate. I also stock up on items that I know I will use within a certain time frame. For this post, I chose to play devil’s advocate.

  • Hi, I came through from the Simple Dollar website.

    I just wanted to chime in with the other couponers who donate. My family went down to one income last year, and couponing has allowed us to keep donating to our causes (the local animal shelter and women’s shelter) at the same level we did when we were on two incomes. It’s just that it’s product now, that I get for free or close to it, instead of writing checks.

    Just my two cents!

  • The man who had the tower of jello donated it all and spent very little to do it. He built it to make a point. Using stockpiling, coupons and sales, I cut my grocery bill in more than 1/2. Feel free to make comments about extreme couponers but when I can get things for free instead of paying for them, I am going to get them for free. I have yet to have any of my stockpile go bad and we do use anything we buy, unless it is for profit and then I just donate it.

  • Ronnie

    Wow I feel cheap! For me and my boyfriend, our monthly grocery allotment is $350, which is $10.70 under the THRIFTY category on the USDA site. I thought it was tight, but pretty doable. Maybe I need to think about this (and not tell honey about it :D).

    • Des

      If you read the report the USDA puts out on how they come up with their “thrifty”, “low-cost”, etc. plans it explains a lot. DH and I are WAY under thrifty budget, but this budget has a female eating 2200 calories a day, and a male eating 2800. When we adjusted for the actual amount we eat a day (which is less) we were almost exactly in line with the thrifty plan.

    • Christine

      I spend $400 a month for a family of 7 with special items needed to be bought for medical reasons. It is tight but I make it work.

  • Christy

    I like coupons for the things I use, I give away the ones I don’t use. I really like the coupons the stores give after you buy two get a dollar back to use for whatever. I got a half gallon of milk for 2 cents the other day with these coupons. I felt really good. It is nice to know that companies which we are loyal too think enough to pay us back, would be nice if they just dropped the price, but I drank that half gallon of milk and really enjoyed it.

  • Catherine

    I would like to say that I am not quite an “extreme” couponer, but I do have quite the stock-pile. As an example, my boyfriend and I each eat cereal every day for breakfast. With couponing, I have a “stock-up” price of $0.50 a box. 20 boxes of cereal will be eaten in 5 months, but it will cost me less than $10 for 280 breakfasts equaling about 3.5 cents per bowl. Also, I go to CVS regularly and get a full load of health/beauty items for free. Some of the items we use, but some go straight to the local shelters. I see it as an opportunity to give my time and energy couponing to someone who may need these items, but doesn’t have the ability to get them on their own.

    • I am an unashamed avid couponer and I know for 20 years it is exactly why I have been able to be a stay at home mom. It takes discipline and organizational skills if you want to save significant money on your everyday expenses. But it can pay big. I currently feed our family of two adults, three teens, two dogs, and two cats on about $70-75 per week. I have about 40 feet of shelves with food/toiletries/misc in addition to two full sized chest and upright freezers full with food. I buy almost all name brand too. When I feel like I am getting overstocked then I put myself on a lower budget. I am currently doing just that $35.00 per week for three months. Couponing works!

      • Nicole

        @Vtcouponqueen: $75/week for your family AND pets is amazing. I’ve been able to feed two adults & two cats on that and thought I was doing well! To be fair, I do live in the NYC metro area, where things tend to be more expensive than other parts of the country.

  • Melissa

    I think you’re forgetting that many of the extreme couponers are also product resellers. Most articles don’t state this because it’s somehow gained some poor reputation. I mean, think about it. You “buy” 50 items for a handful of change (tax), then resell them at $1-$3/EA for profit. If you have the space and the time it can be a full-time or a profitable part-time job. It may be a shopping addiction, but some make it quite profitable.

    If you’re not into reselling (which I’m not), donate excess, catch a tax break.

    Personally, I only stockpile certain items – mostly laundry/cleaning/toiletries, the usual stuff that will last a couple years. It’s not usually a full-time hobby to stockpile, either. It goes in spurts along with sales. If you’re saving 75-100%, you can use it within a reasonable amount of time and you’re not blowing too much time to get a hold of it, why not?

    • Nicole

      @Melissa: You make a valid point — many articles only focus on the “extreme” couponers. I’d not heard of product reselling, but I do know of folks who get their almost-free or free products and donate them to nonprofits or shelters, which is wonderful.

  • This isn’t a game, people. It’s your grocery bill. My “pantry” is a leftover bookshelf and a leftover desk in the corner of my basement. It’s sufficient space. I also don’t own a stand-alone freezer.

    For a realistic effort: I tell my readers to aim their grocery bill is at the “thrifty” range for their family demographic on the USDA “Cost of Food Study.” There are people who can get their grocery bill lower than that, and I do. But it’s difficult for some families to do that for a variety of reasons, so aim for that number and if you do better – great!

    • Nicole

      @Monroe: I’d never heard of that USDA benchmark, I’m going to check it out. I’m the last person in the world who would say it’s not good to save money on your groceries, but some folks seem to go overboard and stockpile stuff like it’s the apocalypse.

  • Coupons don’t really save you all that much so I would assume this woman from Texas had spent close to several thousands to reap up such savings.

    “Coupons don’t really save you all that much” is something I’d really have to disagree with. Since I’ve started using coupons in a really organized way, and have gotten the hang of “stockpiling” (buying in bulk when there is a good coupon/sale convergence) I have cut my family’s grocery budget by about 60% — and we don’t eat all that much in the way of processed foods. For example: Recently frozen veggies were on sale at our local supermarket for $1.00 a bag. I was able to trade/purchase over the internet for about 60 .50 off 1 coupons that my supermarket will double. Over the course of the week I bought 60 bags of frozen veggies (which we will absolutely eat — we also subscribe to a CSA, but living in Maine means frozen is necessary if we want to have certain things, like peas), for a total out of pocket cost of 5.24 – the cost of the coupons. To pay for those bags over the course of a year would have cost me about $100.

    I agree that the jello example is fairly crazy, but I also know several so-called “hard-core” couponers who do stunts like this a) to prove the can, and b) to help out local food pantries and such. A woman on a website I read recently got 120 boxes of cereal for free by combining a good sale with a “triple coupon event” at her local supermarket – she kept ten and donated the rest to her church food pantry.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she spent less than $100 out of pocket to realize that $1000 savings. You just have to hit the right combination of coupons, sale, and a store that doubles or triples coupons.

  • I think the Media are finding extremely efficient couponers who probably don’t do this out of necessity… the trips feature don TV probably take month and months of planning and may even involve buying certain magazines, subscribing to certain lists and other hidden expenses…. Who knows!

    All I do know is that coupons often don’t save money as such as you often buy something you would not normally or the store brand or home made is still cheaper… I still think coupons are great but you need to be careful.

  • heather t

    Hi – coming over from LenPenzo.com. One question I know I’d be asking if I was reporting on extreme couponers is, “Do you donate items?” I don’t usually see this question asked – the papers are just as interested in the extremes as the WSJ article claims some coupon groups are.

    Our local small town paper, which is no prizewinner by far, ran an excellent article recently on some local couponers who are doing great things with their savings. One family built a pantry in their basement and help support 6 other family members who have fallen on hard times with unemployment, etc.

    In a coupon group I belong to, many of the members donate items to local shelters and church pantries.

    Yes, some couponers are extreme, and some are hoarders, but I would like to see more focus on the GOOD people are doing with couponing!

  • If I had the chance to get a deal like that on a bet or to prove a point, I’d be dropping it off at food pantries/soup kitchens.
    As it is, there are many times the toothpaste is cheaper than free at CVS, and I’ve told the mrs that I’d rather not talk about it. Any number over 6 and she’s welcome to bag it for the next shelter donation.

  • What an interesting piece, Nicole!

    You know, those savings are only realized if/when the extreme saver actually uses the all of the products bought.

    People also forget that there are costs to actually store all that extra food. For example, the guy who uses his garage to store “bargains” instead of his car(s), is probably losing a lot of his “savings” in wear and tear on his automobiles – be it by faded paint and wiper blades, and premature aging of his tires.

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

    • Nicole

      @Len: That’s why I think some of these folks (perhaps the guy with the 1,164 Jell-O packages!) have major issues with hoarding. Sure, it’s good to get a deal, but you do need to be able to use the items. Great point about the storage costs — that’s something I hadn’t thought of.

  • Wow that is extreme! For this woman to save $1000 on two supermarket trips is insane.

    Coupons don’t really save you all that much so I would assume this woman from Texas had spent close to several thousands to reap up such savings.

    This totally takes the fun out of shopping. Doing just one BIG trip instead of many other down the line.


  • I never really get to use coupons unless they are generated by the store themselves – dispensed with my receipt. Every time I find a coupon it’s either only good for three of the same items (which I don’t need three of!) or only a brand I don’t particularly like. Cat food and feminine products I do well with though.

    Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

  • I saw Nathan on Nightline Thursday night. His garage looked like a store so he needs to use what hae has before buying more and had like 50 bottles of rubbing alcohol. He bought 8 boxes of Cheerios at the store for free. How many can he eat a week. Who needs that much. I like bulk buying but come on. Be sensible.

  • Patti

    This case is clearly an extreme – one thing is to use coupons for things you need, another is to use them for things simply because you “may” need it in the future. I agree with the TP/paper towels but not if it compromises your space needs. I stock up on both as well as toothpaste/soap/cereal bars. Absolutely nothing perishable and definitely do not compromise my storage space simply because there’s a coupon. I know a couple who bought a PAIR of bikes simply because they were on sale. Keep in mind they lived in a 1bedroom w/the in-laws and their young son w/no storage space. Barely used the bikes. I use some coupons sometimes but am def not an extreme. (P.S. I only have 4 Jell-O boxes in my cupboards) πŸ™‚

  • Julie

    This is funny you posted this because this week alone I bought 13 – 42.5 oz containers of Maxwell House coffee at Costco. It was 6.99 and I had a $2.50 off coupon. Dave and I always bring our coffee to work and drink it at night. I go through one of these containers in a month, easy. The coffee is good until this time next year, and I figure spending $4.49 per month on coffee for two people is a great deal! After doing the math, it came out to be the equivalent of $1.21 for an 11.5 ounce can and I don’t think I’m getting it cheaper than than anywhere. Mind you, I only do this sort of thing once in a blue, and only for what I deem absolute staples, like coffee =)

    • Nicole

      @Julie: I know how you are with your coffee, so it makes sense for you to stock up! ;

  • Totally agree that some people take it too far.

    It’s one thing to try to cut costs if you can do easily. It’s one thing to spend tons of time doing it.

    You can’t save your way to being rich. There’s a lower limit, right? I think time would be better focused on increasing income.

    Nice post, Nicole!

  • I think there are people that go too far in a sense that they’ll shop at four different grocery stores to buy a butterball turkey for $1.99 per pound instead of $2.00 per pound. I’m a firm believer in being frugal, and I am proud of the fact that I use coupons and pamphlets, but at one point or another, you just got to apply common sense.

  • Nicole

    @Lillie: It does seem like a full-time job, especially to gather items in the amounts stated in the WSJ article.

    @Abigail: Tim sounds a lot like my husband — if it’s there, he’ll run through it. Granola bars and cheese, in particular. The man will take a scoop of sour cream for a snack. I’m all for stocking up on non-perishables, though. My dad also will stash things like toilet paper and paper towels for the long haul — it’s not like they’ll go bad!

  • Okay, I’d say more than 50 of anything — especially Jello (even if there’s always room for it) — is excessive.

    That said, I’ll happily stock up on 20-30 boxes of non-perishables at a time. And most coupons are for items that don’t go bad until after being opened. My mom purchased a small freezer for her apartment so that she could better stock up on deals. She’s yet to see a problem with freezer burn. You just have to be sure things are packaged well when they go in.

    Tim eats a ton of sugary crap cereal and he eats it QUICKLY so I’m happy to stock up on as much cereal as I can. We were up to around 15 boxes at one point. Unfortunately, now we’re out and I need to stock back up at the next big sale.

    And when I was able to get Quaker bars for free — except for the $1.50 I spent for the coupons — I went ahead and got 20 boxes. Tim being Tim (ADD big-time) he ate them like candy and they were gone in under a month. So long as he realizes I’m only buying the stuff when it’s on sale!

    For my own purposes, I eat a lot of Fiber One bars and Nature Valley bars. So when I load up on coupons for about $1.50 including shipping, I can get 20 or more boxes for 50 cents a box. To me, that’s worth stocking up. I took a closet organizer I had used before we moved here and put it in a hall closet. I keep the overflow stuff in there.

    Then again, I vividly remember my mom stocking up to ridiculous lengths. Once, she found a closeout on paper towels. She bought every single one they had. We lived in a small place, so there wasn’t enough cupboard space. She stuck a bunch under the couch (which had something draped down, hiding them) and it took us more than a year to go through them all. But she knew we’d use them, so I guess it makes sense.

  • I certainly look at expiration dates when I am shopping and buying items just because of savings sometimes is not in my best interest especially if I know that I am not going to use it within a specified amount of time. Like Jody stated, she may be extremely addicted. It seems like this has become more than an addiction, but a full-time job as well. Saving money is always important, but again, just for the sake of buying it without considering the other options possibly isn’t going to be beneficial.

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