Have you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC? It's pretty much the same thing over and over and over, yet I get hooked when we turn it on.
It's fascinating for two reasons.
1) The ridiculous number of items people get just because they can get them free, even though they seemingly do nothing with it but add it to their "stockpile."
2) The ridiculous number of items people get for free because they plan to actually use it (either for their own family or donating it to those in need).
One is the biggest waste and borders on hoarding. The other is pure genius. Like the lady who buys enough peanut butter for the year when it goes on sale. Or the lady who has a room full of diapers (all acquired for free), because she plans to have kids in the near future and won't have to pay a penny for diapers.
But let's talk about the problems with couponing.
#1: It takes WAY too much time for us normal people.
I tried to get into couponing when I was on bed rest. Even with working part time from the couch, finding and printing and sorting and remembering to use coupons was a ton of work. And I was only dipping into it. Now that I'm back at work with two kids at home, there is no way I have time to be organized enough for using coupons. While I'd LOVE to save money and get stuff for free, our precious time at home needs to be allocated to playing with our kids, bathing our kids,
To my friends who work full time: Do you manage to coupon on top of everything else? If so, HOW IN THE WORLD?
#2: You get suckered into getting things you don't normally use.
I almost signed up for a mailing that included a free Febreeze sample and coupons for a bunch of other cleaning products. Then I came to my senses. 1) What we need in this world is FEWER things printed on paper and mailed out, and 2) I don't even use those cleaning products. We use water, Fantastik, and Clorox Wipes (cheapo brand from Costco) for all our (few-and-far-between) cleaning efforts in my house. That's it. All these coupons for Glade products are no good to me. Who cares if I can get them for 50 cents? Normally I wouldn't get them at all. You know, free-ninety-free. In fact, in my ideal world I'd use lemon, vinegar, and baking soda for all my cleaning needs. Give me some coupons I can use, people.
#3: 90% of non-cleaning-product coupons are for junk food.
Have you noticed what kinds of things people piling into their carts on the Extreme Couponing show? Juice. Sports Drinks. Pasta Roni. Sugary cereals. Cake mixes. Candy. Frozen. Canned. Packaged. Boxed. Sure, they have some healthy things thrown in there, but it's mostly highly processed foods. My goal in life is to move toward fresh foods. Homemade foods. Things that are good for you. While I do enjoy an occasional Pasta Roni, I don't really need 20 in my cupboard. I need more fruits and vegetables and beans.
However, making things from scratch and eating delicious and healthy homemade takes a lot of time, too.
I just can't win, can I?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-couponing. People who can use coupons to their advantage (and only get the things they actually need) are WAY up there in my book. I'm seriously impressed. And I'd do it if I had the time (or the desire...or the organizational skills...).
So tell me. How do you cut down on your grocery bills? Or better yet--if you didn't have much time at home to be preparing things yourself, how would you cut down on your grocery bills?