(My “not so extreme” shopping trip today – $7. Already eaten was our dinner – a bucket of chicken on sale for $4.99, but marked to $1.99 because the deli was closing, as well as marked down apples.)
Extreme Couponing: the Reality
Many of you may have seen or heard about TLC’s show that have been airing, Extreme Couponing.
The first show highlighted four avid couponers who take their stockpiling of groceries and coupon cutting to the extreme. Not only do they take deal seeking to a new level, which some called OCD, but the amount of time spent to find and conquer the deals each day is extreme. There are so many aspects of the show that I want us to learn from about couponing, both pro and cons, cons, cons, but I am just going to address one aspect – we’ll look at each of these couponer’s best shopping trip.
Is Extreme Couponing real?
Shopper Nat’s retail value of groceries were $5,743.00. His cost after utilizing his coupons: $241.00 – 95% savings! This included 2000 items with 1,100 boxes of cereal, 300 toothbrushes and 60 bottles of hand soap.
Shopper Amanda’s retail value of groceries were $1,175.33. Her cost after utilizing her coupons: $51.67 – 98% savings. Her trip consisted of nine baskets of food, beauty and pet products including 218 boxes of pasta, 268 containers of noodles, 100 bottles of sport drink and 150 candy bars.
Shopper Joanie’s retail value was $638.64. Her cost after utilizing her coupons: $2.64 – 98% savings! (Obviously, she drove to a state or lives in a state that had no grocery tax because my tax alone would have been more than that.) During this trip, she filled four carts full of 250 items including 40 boxes of pasta and 20 liters of soda.
For those of you who do not coupon, you wonder, “How in the world can anyone get all that for practically free? Here is the reality of those shopping trips; they are not possible if one adheres to typical store coupon policies. Those trips, as is, could not occur just as portrayed on the show. Extreme Couponing is not reality for the typical shopper.
My knowledge of couponing can teach the best of them.
I know that coupons are only worth it 8% of the time. Yes, 92% of all coupons are NOT worth it (click here to read why not).
I understand how those couponers on the show purchased thousands of dollars of “free food.” I understand the principles behind them, and I could do the same, but unfortunately, someone new to couponing would see that show and perceive a “get rich quickly” type of couponing scenario. There are already so many people committing coupon fraud (they are not on this first episode) or using coupons for things in which they are not intended, that a show like this can tend to hyper-inflate and encourage that over indulgent aspect.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for getting items for free. I am a Grocery Guru. I can share extreme couponing how to’s. I am all about saving money and being good stewards with the resources we are given – coupons being one of them, but there must be a balance. There must be moderation with our pursuit of the “best deal.”
Learning the art of couponing and creating a stock pile takes time, especially since every store has a distinctive coupon policy to limit the type of activity that was portrayed on the show. Now I understand that it’s TV, which means ratings is their number one goal, and major editing had to occur. No one wants to see a “normal couponing” show, so to achieve these trips, some stores had to bend their policies a bit for the additional publicity they would receive. To allow this show, without full disclosure of editing, did a disservice to all of us who use coupons in the manner for which they were intended.
I love that it opened up the world of saving money and got people buzzing about the creative ways some of us have been been pinching pennies for years, but honestly, people already raise their eyebrows at me when I have my coupon binder in the store, which I don’t mind, but to have the only example of extreme couponers being people portrayed to have some serious boundary/balance issues doesn’t help mentor or coach anyone in the art of couponing.
Most stores that double coupons have a limit per day of 20, so when math was shown about doubling coupons and then hundreds of items were purchased, that isn’t reality. Also, most stores have a per “like item” limit on coupons, meaning you may use three like coupons. That is why I only have 3 Lysol and not 20. Personally, I had a $1/Lysol wipes, so I could only get 3 of those in one day, and any more than that would be breaking this particular store’s coupon policy. (They are all a bit different.) If the coupon was for $1/2, then I could get 6 etc.
My desire is to have six months of a stock pile on necessities, so that does require quantities of multiple items. I’ve shown some of my larger shopping trips before, and yes, they have been amazing, but what I showed in these pictures is more realistic, more doable…for anyone. If I am trying to stock up on that many pantry items, it doesn’t happen over night or in one shopping trip. Since the store I frequent limits items, I would need to go back every day while those items were on sale (if the shelves weren’t already cleared), and use my coupons to create a small stockpile of items.
There are a few national stores that may not limit coupons, but unless you have prearranged additional product for that item during that sales week, clearing the stores of 100, 200, 300+ of any item would just be excess.
Sales are cyclical, and as you become a grocery guru, you realize that if you miss a deal, it will come back around within a few months. Now, if I could have bought ten Wholly Guacamoles at one time, I would have because we go through it so quickly. Please understand I think stock piling is a wise, financial principle for our family and our grocery budget, but I believe in everything there’s moderation, even in achieving Grocery Guru status. 😉
And since I know that some of you are wondering how much the groceries from my two pictures cost – $7/two separate days. What cracked me up was the shock from my college aged cashier. She picked up one of the feminine products (I don’t think any guys read my blog…sorry if you do), and said, “I just paid almost $7 for this and you got all this?”
Yes, we’ve all had those moments, haven’t we?
Join me as I continue sharing Grocery Guru tips, but we’ll do it well, do it right, and do it without regrets.
Looking for ways to immediately cut your grocery bill in half? See my Top Ten ways to budget your grocery budget that doesn’t always include clipping coupons.
I need to read and re-read this often! Thanks girl!
bahahaha! and that totally is not my webpage in the above comment. I’m a little sleep deprived! oh man.
now that is FUNNY!!! Get some sleep. 😉
GREAT post! Thanks for the reminder! Sometimes it can be tempting to constantly try to think up ways to get more and save more, but those “limit 1 offer per household,” “limit 3,” etc. probably do help to curb our greediness in some way. It makes me feel good to have a good stockpile, but if we’re cutting corners to do it, in the end, it won’t be a blessing to our family or anyone else.
Thanks for bringing up store policies, because almost every grocery store has one and limits coupons and it’s not even conceivable that these people were able to use so many coupons in one trip without at least pre-arranging with the store manager or if it was in relation to the show. If this could actually happen I think stores would really limit coupons and change their store policies.
Exactly, and that’s what worries some of us. Hoping there won’t be a backlash from stores as people start couponing thinking this is possible.
Very well written. Bravo!
Our national store does not have limiting policies, but I consider it extremely rude and self-centered to wipe out an item just because I can. One time, though, I knew I wanted to get 20 bags of flour when they were on sale. The manager and I talked about this and he told me to come in the day after the sale after the truck came and he would give it to me at the sales price. Then, when I went to check out, he went into ballistics when I pulled out the coupons, which I had never hid from him that I was going to use. He started telling me how I was committing fraud and wanted to know where I got all those coupons. I told him they were from the paper, which they were, but he insisted that I got them fraudulently. I was appalled that I honestly thought I did the right thing by letting them know in advance what my plan was and not just wiping out the shelf, but it came back to bite me. I have not been back to that store in over 4 years.
I have not seen the Extreme Couponing show and I believe in a well-stocked pantry (living in the country has a part in that), but these kinds of extremes give couponers a bad name. It makes me sad that they are being exploited like that.
oh Julie – now that would have frustrated me SO much as well. Hats off for doing the right thing and talking to him, but now, I am sure he sees people coming in all the time for 20 of something. 20 doesn’t even seem extreme to me after all these stories, plus, I often have 20 boxes of cereal in my pantry…lol I wish we didn’t go through them that fast.
@Julie, Don’t they get the money back from the Manufacturers when you use coupons? I was treated horribly by a cashier once, and she even threw my receipt at me!
Thank you Jen, for writing this. I don’t want to have 1000 items. Just enough for my family, an emergency and maybe some people we need to help or a charity. I think it’s entertaining to see these people, who are most likely OCD or hoarders, but you are right! That’s not reality.
I was thinking yesterday that I could have an awesome trip, saving much more that 50% (which I did), but I had to buy two gallons of milk (any tips on buying milk?, I got meat, which is usually a little more expensive, and several things for my daughter’s birthday party. I could have singled out the super double coupon items, and had a great story, but it wouldn’t have been realistic. Lying, really. It doesn’t help anyone learn how to run a household by distorting their view like that show does.
BTW, we shop at the same store because I got most of those items too! And sorry for writing a book!
I thought the first extreme couponer profiled could have also been on an episode of “Hoarders” with her ridiculously oversized stockpile. It’s clearly creating friction in her marriage as well. If she loves the thrill of getting the deals to that degree, she could at least donate some of it to a food bank instead of filling three rooms in her house with items she’ll likely never use.
@Lisa J., I agree with you. Several of the people had ‘control’ issues! It is one thing to stock pile, but a much greater issue to ‘h0ard’. I love how Jess at LifeAsMom takes a month to eat from her pantry (and release her emotional attachment to her stockpile). I did that last month since December is always full of buying food for parties, dinners, and cookies. In the end, my grocery budget stayed instead of increasing the same since I had a lot of ‘extras’ to buy. And my pantry had a nice cleansing experience. Now it’s back to couponing and stockpiling.
It was nice that they showed the guy with the ‘Total’ cereal donate it to the food bank! He should have done the same with the deoderant and toothbrushes!
@Melissa, I couldn’t have said that better myself! I stockpile throughout the year, help those in need by donating to our church and to a family in our neighborhood that struggles and November and December are my “off months”. If I feel like couponing, then so be it and if not, it doesn’t bother me. Our son is a Christmas Night baby… December 25th, so we have an incredibly busy holiday season! I love that my abundance helps my family, another family, charities and allows me to breathe easily during the holidays!
Well said. Thanks!! I also worried about how this show would affect newbies to couponing.
Thank you so much for writing this! I town we go for our grocery shopping (we live out in the country), has stores with limits on couponing. So there’s no way we could even come close to what they did. I am new at couponing. I am also just getting started at stockpiling. Its a challenge on a very fixed income. Thanks for explaining that it does take time…I’ve read so many blogs that have made me feel like something is wrong with me because I can’t get 20 cans of tomatoes to stockpile in addition to the ones I need for that week when I go to the store. 😀 You’ve helped a girl learn something here…and I really appreciate it!!! 😀
Building Home with Him,
Just added your blog to my blog roll!!!! Thanks for all you do here!!! Want to share it with my readers as well!!!
Building Home with Him,
That show gives common-sense couponers a bad name. Who has room to hoard that many products? It was ridiculous & greedy. I’m all for having a stockpile, but I felt bad for all the store employees!
I want to comment on the reimbursement for coupons by the manufacturer to the store, it clearly states on the majority of coupons I have come across that they are reimbursed the full value of the coupon plus .08 handling fee, s0 I don’t understand store or store employees taking it so personally and if a store doubles coupons, isn’t that “the store policy” to do so. I really get irritated at store employees who take offense at customers using coupons, but the “backlash” isn’t like it was at first when I started with every coupon being scrutinized and most stores know me when I walk in because I frequent the same stores.
I know. Often, it comes down to employees just not wanting to go the extra mile because all stores DO get reimbursed for the hassle.
Thanks for this post! I saw the show and thought it was ridiculus as well. All of the stores that I go to have limits and rules as well. They also glossed over the fact that the one woman purchased her coupons online. It was the woman who had several rooms with the shelves of products. I think that she paid $70 or something like that just for the coupons. The cost of that was not factored into the cost either.
The only “reality” about Extreme Couponing is the greed that fosters that kind of obsessive behavior. It is very sad and I pray that those women are delivered from their “addiction” and that couponing doesn’t turn into a form of idolatry for any of us that are simply trying to spend and stretch their family’s grocery dollars to the best of our abilities.
I will start off by saying I have not seen the show as we don’t have cable or dish. We are too cheap for that. LOL
I will say when I did coupon, I had a very big stockpile. Not as much as the people mentioned in this show but I would guess about 6 months. It was hard work but I live in a hurricane prone state & goodness, the economy is stable for WHO these days? And I live in a place with no double coupons as well. So it was doable. But we have encountered food allergies now, so we are struggling to find coupons for whole unprocessed foods. But I am trying!
We had many stores (small and big chains) and I have never met a coupon limit policy. For that I am glad. Because most of the stores I did go to, not all, knew that they made MORE money from me & my coupon than someone who had a straight sale. A mgr. pointed out to a cashier who was hassling me I was using 40 coupons not all the same but a variety. She said, “We get this money back and $.08 per coupon. We just made MORE money. And we have a loyal customer now.” While I get the whole idea that we shouldn’t push our luck…..in this economy consumers have the power,whose luck are we pushing? I often tell my children, your dollar is your vote. I simply will NOT go to a store that will not meet my needs or makes me feel they are doing me a favor by letting me shop there. I think consumers are often too passive in their shopping habits. And stores are too skewed in the idea of who is serving who. Coupons, coupon acceptance is one way to tell if a store TRULY gets customer service.
As for stockpiling and extreme coupon, I say to each their own. If these people feel the need for $5000 worth of food in their garage, then that is their business. Not mine. And at the end of the day, it effects me how? It doesn’t. If they clean out the shelf, then I don’t think my family will starve without another tube of free toothpaste, you know? LOL I get why people would not choose this method for themselves. It seems like from just reading about the store, it is time consuming. But I am not so quick to pass judgment on those who do. I would hate for someone to judge me for what is in my grocery cart or pantry.
I totally agree with you on telling our dollars where to go and coupons are a great test of CS. So true, and appreciate you bringing this up.
My point of the post was specifically to new couponers that how this how portrays shopping isn’t a reality, and could lead many new couponers to instantly feel as if they could never do it. We want to encourage them and teach them how to do it well for their families. There are few stores now that don’t have some kind of coupon policy in place due to coupon fraud, and unfortunately, slowly more and more stores are cracking down.
You’re right, someone’s stock pile isn’t our business specifically, but when over abuse goes to the extreme, unfortunately it affects all those who shop at those stores, and it does impact others. I didn’t get into the nitty gritty of the show because I didn’t want to bring up all the issues because I do know that some of them donate to food pantries and we can’t distinguish how things were edited, but I wish I could say that some only had $5K of stockpiled items….that would actually seem very acceptable to me.. lol
@Jens, it wasn’t your comments or post directly, it was comments that are here that seem to make me uncomfortable. I think your spot on for warning new couponers this is not the norm and saving THAT much takes time, organization and more importantly experience.
But the same can be said that the show also probably is not edited to make these shoppers look anything BUT extreme. I mean, if they showed a good honest person….then how could they get ratings? There are good facts are left out (Joanie’s husband had been laid off for some time & her couponing helped her small young family, Nat got out of debt & now donates most of his stockpile to his church & their mission groups) so that instead of portraying a struggling family or a couple who are debt free & giving to those without food, it has been edited to make nice folks look well, nuts.
Also I should point out, that if these stores are being filmed, it is with the stores permission. So I question people who seem to think these shoppers ‘abused’ the system. No store would consent to their store & employee’s being on camera committing coupon fraud. So I cringe when I see people say the word abuse associated with these shoppers. There was no abuse, it was within that stores coupon policies. That I am sure in this legal sue everyone age we can be sure of.
Jen, I admire your post and its intention. I wish others would be so open to teaching couponers as well. Sadly there are a lot of misconceptions both ways.
@Michele, Exactly, Michelle. I agree with you on many of these points. Stores were very willing to agree to this. Hopefully, on the future episodes, something will be addressed in regards to the fact that it was outside the norm of stores policies, but I doubt it because , again, this wouldn’t get the ratings. Thanks for your comments.
I thought the show was a farce. Seriously over 200 boxes of pasta added to what they already had. We were watching this as a family and my kids (who volunteer at the Food Bank thru 4-H) kept asking why arent’ they giving this to a shelter, food bank, church. Why?
And having your young child dig around in a dumpster…no way! I don’t have a problem with an adult doing that, but don’t stick a child in there. There is no telling what harmful things they might end of grabbing.
When the stockpile is pushing you out of the living space of your home, there is a PROBLEM. And I am not willing to give up that much of my home to stock pile things that I personally believe will never get used.
In Oklahoma City, I don’t even know of a grocery store that allows double couponing anymore. There were just so many issues with this show. But I guess it did highlight that there was money to be saved by couponing.
I’ve never heard of this show, but that’s just ridiculous. And it’s not good stewardship. Who can go through 300 toothbrushes?! (Esp. since I’m guessing no one with a large family can find quite that much time to devote to couponing.) Since there is no real intent to either use the items, or to pass them on to someone else who needs them, it’s almost a theft from those who do. And couple that (the lack of intent to use the items purchased) with the fact that they’re so clearly overstepping the bounds of how the coupons were intended to be used, and they’re defrauding the companies. (“Don’t muzzle the ox…”) I would be concerned that manufacturers would cut way back on producing coupons after a show like that!
(I am not aware, however, of any daily limit on the number of total coupons my store will double. They will only double one “like” coupon per transaction, though.)
The key really is balance! I stopped CVS deal shopping b/c it was taking over my life – and it was silly – I was getting all kinds of things I did NOT need or even want! I consider a good coupon trip to be over 30% off my total bill – but we also have some severe food allergies and some brand loyalties that run up our bill sometimes. I can’t compare myself to other couponers, b/c I wind up feeling bad about deals I didn’t get or that I’m not spending enough time on it! But that’s more time I’m spending with my kids, so I have learned to relax!
And I have LOVED being able to give during food drives, etc. There are so many people out there who need help – it’s been such a blessing to give some of my stockpile when I can’t give money!
My husband is the shopper in our family, and he’s big on shopping the sales. We use coupons but I’ve noticed that in Canada we don’t have double coupon day or using coupons at the same time as store sales. So my husband will buy like 20 boxes of pasta when they’re on sale, and even things like school supplies, gifts and things like that he gets when he sees them cheaper because he knows we’ll need them later. Great post!!
I am totally in agreement with you! My goal at the store on a normal basis is to save 2x what I spend, and I usually hit that goal. That means that I am only buying what is on sale and what I have good coupon deals for. Basics, like milk & eggs & cheese, I get at Costco where the unit price is lower… unless I can beat it at my grocery store. I love to get stuff to donate to our church pantry. We don’t drink juice, but this week I did get 10 bottles of Old Orchard for $4 and donated 8 of them! I also donated 6 boxes of free pasta because I already have enough in my pantry. With the current super doubles event, I saved over 80% in 3 trips. It is such a blessing! I see it as a gift, definitely not a right or something to abuse. Blessings!!
Thanks for writing this post. Good information. We were scratching our heads on how it was possible to score such amazing deals. Here in Canada where I live we have no double or triple coupon days and the coupons that come in the paper are not that good. To get a dollar off something I often have to buy 2 of that item. Most times I’m better off buying the sale item than a coupon item.
Thank you for the wonderful post! I haven’t seen the show yet, but needed the encouragement that it takes time to learn to be a “grocery guru”. 🙂 It’s been a couple of months since I started this journey and I can see progress, so I will be happy with that fact. I think I might start documenting my savings, to see if I continue to grow in this area. 🙂
Thanks again for the encouragement!
The shopper, Joanie, actually didn’t break any store policies and also the state where she lives doesn’t have sales tax on the items she bought. I enjoyed your article, but you might want to get accurate details first.
@Lee, yes, that’s why I made sure that I did include that. I stated she /drove/purchased in a state where there was no grocery tax included, that’s why I wanted to make sure and include that. Again though, that is not reality for most couponers. That is my point. It’s nothing Joanie did, but it leads new couponers to think they can purchase $1K groceries for $2 when most tax along is going to be $15. Many states pay tax anywhere from 3 – even up to 10% on food/groceries.
Again, just wanting new couponers to get an accurate picture of what couponing is about.
@Jens, It looks like that bit was just some unfortunate editing by the production crew. Joanie’s list seams pretty reasonable, and she explained that they edited out the previous 3 or 4 transactions which garnered her some Catalinas. http://thekrazycouponlady.com/2011/01/04/tlc-extreme-couponing-shopping-list/
It is sad that in an effort to show the EXTREME side of everything that producers dishonestly portray couponers or portray them as being dishonest. I haven’t seen the show, but I’ve heard a lot about it. I have a fairly small stockpile, but you can’t believe how many people say, “I saw that show and thought of you!” Ha!
@Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs, Yep, I agree Kelleigh. They edit for ratings, for sure. Joanie has shared though that the store she shopped at has changed their coupon policy since they filmed this. She was able to stack manufacturer and store coupons together, but since have limited that, so again, if people try to mimic what they did for the show, they wouldn’t be able to do it if they stayed within the store policy.
Yep, I am with you about the small stockpile. Ours seems minuscule now, doesn’t it? 😉 I’m actually working on building my back up on some items because I really lived off our stockpile for a few months and now need to replenish.
@Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs, Oops, I forgot to add that you’re right though. Her list is not unmanageable at all (minus the 40 Ragu). I just hate that it doesn’t give the correct picture (TLC’s fault, not hers).
I wanted to say THANK YOU for this post! I’ve been chatting with my friends and family about this show and it really has given couponing and couponers a bad rap. I am very blessed to live in an area of South Carolina where customer service is always top-notch at all the grocers, big chains and drugstores. I’ve never been treated poorly… but then again, I shop with common sense and common courtesy, too! I love being able to stockpile enough to take care of my family and contribute to struggling families or food banks. I believe this show took the focus off of the true reason we coupon which is to have more so that we may give more… of ourselves and our “things”. Thanks again, Jen! XOXO
I really need to get my rear in gear with coupons. My excuse has always been that they are for things we don’t use, but I never thought about the donation side of things. I would love to be able to take a huge box full to our local food pantry every few weeks! That would be awesome, and an even better learning experience for my children! I know you have covered this before, but it’s nap time and my time to get things done around the house is short, but where do I start?? (I only ask b/c I know you are awesome about reading your replies and posting your own comments back – I don’t need a huge amount of detail, maybe just a couple links??? Please?? I have total ADD and need as much hand holding as possible since I am easily overwhelmed!) My only store options (still 20 min away) are Lowes, Food Lion, Bottom Dollar, and WalMart (ugh, I’d rather NOT go there!). There is a Harris Teeter an hour away, but being 6y months PG with a toddler and 3 year old, the closer the better!
Oh, and re: the TV show. We don’t watch TV at all anymore, so I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like every other “reality” show on TV – extreme behaviors to gain viewers… BOOOOOO! That is so NOT reality!
@Renee, Oh, so sorry I missed your questions. Start small. It can be overwhelming to try and do a bunch at one time. Pick your favorite store and just try a few coupons there. I will be doing some more basic posts to add to my tutorials, but here are a few behind the mindset.
I’ve not seen the show and don’t intend to watch it either based on some of the comments I’ve seen from others … It bums me as it gives couponers a bad rap all over again (remember a few years back, stores wouldn’t take internet printed coupons for a while because of the fraud/copies?) … I use coupons and I’m PROUD of it, but I don’t clear shelves and I certainly don’t believe anyone would ever (nor should they) have 100 coupons of the same thing, seriously, why would you?? I still struggle with the coupon supply service, I know you aren’t BUYING the coupon, but paying for the service, but still 🙁 …I’m working on it!
Jen, I watched that show last week and was appauled. I do use coupons, however I usually only have 2 of any coupon between my moms and my newspaper. I have a stockpile of toiletries mainly. I always stick to the coupon policy of the particular store I am in. What bothered me most is there is not way they can possibly use up 300 boxes of pasta before it goes bad. Not only that but we don’t need that kind of stock pile, they need to be donating most of that. I just kept watching and thinking how much good they could do to give half of thier stockpile to the local food bank or church pantry.
I was intrigued by the thread of the comments and couldn’t help but chime in! We don’t have t.v. at all so obviously I didn’t see the show, but I can’t help but wonder – do real life viewers still believe that any ‘reality t.v.’ is real? I sincerely hope not! I’m glad you are debunking the myth for newbie couponers Jen! My store is like yours – limits abound! It’s easy to stay in the perimeters once you learn them, but like you said, it takes time to learn.
When I first read your post though, and thought about those huge stockpiles of stuff, my thoughts went quickly to the Manna that God provided for His children as they wandered in the dessert for forty years – just enough, never more never less. NEVER stale dated!!!!! Then I thought about the virtuous Proverbs 31 woman – always providing for the needs of her family using the resources and abilities given to her by God. It doesn’t say anything about her having enough to feed a small army, just for the needs of her family and the poor at the time of their need. I thought about Jesus teaching His disciples to pray ‘ Give us this day our daily bread’ – this day! Hoarding is evidently not a Biblical principle.
Greed is sin. We are admonished to provide for the needs of our family, and to eagerly bless those in need who are unable to provide for themselves. We know the Biblical principle well – if you don’t work, you don’t eat. In the uncertain economy of our world today the temptation to hoard those things which we feel we cannot live without is sorely tempting, but I don’t think it is necessary to go to such extremes.
We have found a balance that works well for our family. I have a well stocked fridge and pantry. My freezer is blessedly full. When friends are in need it is easy to open my pantry or freezer and fill bags with wholesome nutritious food to help them through a rough patch. I have thrifted clothes set aside for our rapidly growing boy to move into set aside in his closet (our daughter is slimming down and shooting up so we’ll hit the thrift store for her as needed), and I have fabric to make clothes, gifts for others and nice things for our home set aside in a small closet. I shop sales, and I coupon but it is not my life – I budget 1 hour a week for clipping and sorting coupons and matching them with sales. Recently I saved $124 on a piece of upholstery foam for a project that I will be doing next month in our son’s room by combining sales with coupons at JoAnn’s. I like to look ahead to the needs of our family and meet them frugally without being cheap. However, I don’t look too far ahead. We plan, we prepare when we can but in everything we do, we strive to trust God and not put OUR planning ahead of that trust.
I am afraid that overstocking looks like greed with a pretty new face on it. It’s cool to be frugal these days, but anything taken to excess is a problem. If the thrill of the deal is more important than good stewardship or living in harmony with the family, than that’s a problem. If having more than you need causes gluttony, waste, or a possessive heart, is it really a healthy choice? If it takes more time and energy to amass huge quantities of material goods that will not last and impedes upon the time spent pouring ourselves into the lives of others, have we really gained anything?
I think for MYSELF hoarding any material ‘thing’ at all is a spiritual issue – a faith issue. I always ask myself: Do I believe in a God who KNOWS my need before I do, MEETS my need completely and has PERFECT timing, or do I rely on myself and what little I can do to meet the needs of my family? Do I give with an open hand and a joyous heart, or do I hold on to things ‘just in case’ or ‘just because’ for that ever illusive ‘someday’? I believe in a God who provides for my needs AT the TIME of my need – I don’t have to worry about ‘tomorrow’ and strain to amass everything our family might potentially need down the road. He knows and He’s got it covered.
When we have put things back for ‘someday’ when there were others in need today, we did not sense God’s peace about it. Our God is a God of perfect timing – it may not be our time, but it is His time. It is perfect. Learning to know that in the reality of His provision for our family is a blessing I would love to share with everyone!
I will now quietly step off my soapbox!
@Heather, Oh friend – climb on that soapbox anytime. You had wise words to share with all of us.
Thanks for this post. I completely agree with your take on “reality” as far as shopping and doing it ethically.
I had one of those wow-you-got-cheap-pads moment with a cashier (I had a free product coupon), where the cashier was really impressed and bewildered…but he was a guy. I must admit, that was just a hint awkward…but I was still happy with my great deal! 😀
If it were not being able for me to stockpile, our family might go hungry. My husband has been downsized due to the recession, and every little bit helps. We have lived of the food that I have purchased for pennies on the dollar. I don’t get 50 boxes of pasta etc, but if I have found a great deal I have been known to buy 20 jars of peanut butter. I am by no means obsessed, but found several of the tips on this show helpful. I believe that people in glass houses should not throw stones.
im really wanting to learn to do this whole extream couponing thing i spend right around 1000.00 every month to feed my kids and its running me broke and i buy cheaply to! can some one email me how this is done thanks!
Oh you are such an inspiration!!! ~Leslie