Extreme Couponing…Is It the Answer?

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When asked how much value there is in their home storage inventory, couponers will often tell you it is between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars. For a full time job which requires an obsessive commitment, distracts you from family, church responsibilities and service opportunities, this is a very low paying job. In other words they are making $15,000 a year for their full time job or, if you take four weeks off a year, $7.80 an hour and little time with the spouse and kids and friends.

A typical stash for those who coupon with such extreme objectives, includes enough toothpaste, laundry detergent, cereal and shampoo to last through the millennium, but no dairy products and very few proteins, fruits and vegetables. This is not intentional, it just reflects what is available to buy with coupons. Storage shelves will be stocked to overflowing with packaged foods which are high in calories and low in nutritional value.

But what is self reliance? Self reliance by definition is using one's own efforts and abilities, with dependence on one's own powers and judgment. We trust in our own capabilities to gather resources. “Reliance” is a state of being dependent upon or confident in something or someone, in this case, trusting in ourselves. In other words, “self reliance” is the faith and confidence in your own judgment and capability to be independent, no matter the circumstance.

Will becoming a coupon king or queen achieve this goal? No. Self reliance requires not only the stocking of a “General Store” in our own homes, but also learning and practicing skills which help us to remain independent of the world. Self reliance requires the accumulation of tools to practice those skills including the equipment needed for canning, sewing, car repair, and gardening. It requires a reference library should we be required to fend for our own food, clothing, shelter and health care for some period of time.

Clipping coupons is a great way to save money but going to extremes is not a good plan. Slow and steady still wins the race. If your family needs extra income to purchase items without sabotaging the family budget consider other methods for making some extra.

Lets' ask! What are some ways you have earned extra money for your family budget without getting a full time job?



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Pressure canner

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Water bath canner

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Steam Juicer Never waste anything! Juice it and use the juice for drinking or making jelly and syrups.

Steam Canner some people prefer the water bath some the steam bath. I have both. If using a steam canner be sure to add five minutes to all processing times.

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12 Responses to “Extreme Couponing…Is It the Answer?”

  1. katherine says:

    I  have a full-time job so I haven't had to come up with anything else….yet.  I love to coupon, but watching Extreme Couponing kinda makes me sick.  In one show, the lady literally cleared a shelf of a product leaving nothing for anyone else.  Ugh!  Couponing can certainly be used to free up some money to buy the things we need for extra storage, but extreme couponing is certainly not my way.

  2. Andrea says:

    I'm with Katherine…there's something about this extreme couponing that just turns my stomach.  I use coupons and enjoy a good deal, but there's just something nauseating about those shows.  They remind me of those pie-eating contests.  Yuck.   
    I'm a stay at home mom, no income other than what I can create in my home.  My garden and orchard is my income.  The food I can is my income.  The fruit, eggs, meat I barter for.  The wild mushrooms, onions and garlic that I forage for.  The clothes I sew/mend instead of replacing is my income.  The money I save in childcare is my income.  The homecooked meals, homemade-ugly gifts, time I donate to charity, time I spend with the sick and the mourning, relationships I build with my community.  That's my income.  And it's tax-free  : ) 

  3. Bellen says:

    Just watched my first 'Extreme Couponing' show – I was rather disgusted at the shopping and for the life of me couldn't figure out how having 3 chest freezers and 3 more side by side refig/freezers was making sense. Just the extra expense of running them, and heaven forbid there's a power outage, makes no sense to me.
    You summed up my feelings extremely well – no produce, protein (I don't consider premade, high fat, breaded anything a good source of protein) and very little dairy a good use of your money no matter how much you save. I have only found a couple of coupons for 1# of any brand cheese and tuna recently – I rely on the Internet and inserts given to me by my neighbor.
    I will admit to not having purchased shampoo, conditioner and deodorant for a couple of years by taking advantage of samples. That was between 2007 and 2009 when we were just making ends meet with mortgage, utilities, food and car gas. There was absolutely no extra money for personal health & beauty items. I used coupons when I could, but again, for what I wanted they just weren't there.
    As were are now entering hurricane season and food prices are rising quickly we are inventorying, making our list, checking prices as we visit the 2 local stores we shop and will do, for us, a major shop in a couple of weeks. It will not take hours as we maintain our stores monthly.

    Thank you for a terrific, well thought, well balanced blog.

  4. Kelli says:

    Well said, Bellen!  So many people don't realise the value they hold in their own homes, gardens and hands.  Skills that have mostly gone by the wayside–we need to bring these skills back.

  5. jennifer says:

    Hi, I have a question, please.  Are the comments approved before they go up, or am I not submitting them properly?  hahaha!  I've commented twice, and the comments never went through.  If you chose not to include them–that is a-ok with me–it's your blog.  But if they aren't going thru properly, then that is something others may be having an issue with as well.  Just wondering.  I'm writing, clicking submit comment, then nothing.  
    Thanks!  I am enjoying your blog–it's very helpful and practical. :)

  6. jennifer says:

    I use my coupons to pantry shop–to stock for several months to a year, when something we use is at a rock bottom price.  I use the coupons to get many things free or for very little–freeing up that money to now buy meat and fresh produce and organic milk.  We went from being foolish with what we spent per month on groceries, to now spending very little.  Not only has couponing and pantry shopping freed up an extra $500+/month, but we started looking at ALL our spending–finding ways to trim costs. This cost cutting is now allowing us to pay much more on our mortgage per month, and we should be able to pay off our home in 3.5 yrs (saving us $70,000 in interest payments.  We currently spend less per month to feed 4 people than we did when it was only 2 of us. 
    We are also gardening this year, with the plan to can much of the food.  I can meat that I buy on sale, and homemade broth, jam, applesauce, etc.  
    I am nowhere as extreme as those on tv, but I AM using the things I learn about extreme couponing to prepare our home and prepare our lives for emergencies.  We live in hurricane-land–and in the past, I've not thought one bit about how to be ready/prepared.  But the last bad season, my firstborn was a baby.  Now that I am mom, I think of things differently. ;)  Do I can meat so we can have a good meal when the power is out (and so it won't rot in our freezer)–yep.  Do I have a gas stove instead of electric so I can still cook when the power is out–yep.  Do we have an outside way of cooking and fuel/charcoal to keep it going–yep.  Do we have food and water to last us a bit?  yes.  So many of these things I learned about from the couponing community–in fact, preparedness as a whole I first learned about from the couponing community.  
    So, I am saving gobs of money on groceries, we're putting extra on our mortgage payments every month, and I'm learning about how to prepare for my family in emergencies–all due to what I've learned from the couponing community.  I'd say it's worth the extra few hours a week I spend finding out the deals and such.  (And no, I don't spend 30-60 hrs/wk–I spend maybe 5-8–including trips to the store.)  ;)

  7. Jeanette says:

    If you know people who have 3 freezers full of food it might be a good idea to have a lot of extra canning jars and lids and a pressure canner to help them can  all of the meat in case of a long term power outage.  By doing this you will help them and yourself because they then will not have to rely on you for food.  Hopefully the food will be such that it can be processed.  If their freezers are full of pizza, etc., you might consider gifting them the book One Second After. 

  8. Carolyn says:

    Jennifer, Yes the comments are approved by me. I do that because I don’t want any bashing etc. I want everyone to feel welcome and safe here to express their thoughts. I am sorry your comments were not approved more quickly but I had a wedding this weekend so I didn’t even check the blog, email, facebook, etc. for a few days. The wedding was wonderful and a real lesson in preparedness….I’ll write about that tomorrow..Thanks so much for your comments and please keep them coming!

  9. outandabout says:

    I thought about extreme couponing, until I realized that most coupons are for junk food, processed food and sweet drinks. Where are all the coupons for whole foods? (lol)

  10. sharma says:

    I am sorry you cannot see the value of coupons. The extreme couponing show is just that … extreme.  Coupons combined with store sales are how my family makes ends meet. I have used coupons to purchase produce, dairy, and even meat products. Those who only find coupons are for junk and processed food aren't knowledgable enough about couponing to make a judgement. I grew up using coupons but I have taken it to another level from what my mother did. I have a greatly stocked pantry plus a well stocked cupboard with toothpaste, shampoo, deoderants… all things we need for the next 3-4 months. I do not clear shelves, nor do I subscribe to many newspapers, I may spend 2-3 hours clipping coupons and making my shopping plan, but the savings we see are well worth the fews hours of time it takes. I just do my couponing when I am watching my favorite TV shows. Without coupons and savy sale shopping my family wouldn't be able to send our missionary out plus meet all our bill obligations. The TV show only shows the EXTREME side of couponing, I do not favor this kind of shopping or behavior.

  11. Carolyn says:

    I think we are on the same page here. I too clip coupons and have written and even done a radio show about couponing. It is a great way to stretch a budget. The point I was trying to make was exactly what you have summarized. Spending as many hours as you would working at a full time job just doesn’t seem wise. You might as well get a job, have evenings free with your family, clip a few coupons and use your income to purchase your stock, and have health benefits. Doing that you can get exactly what you need and not have to be dependent on the coupons that are available, and I have yet to see coupons for cannesr or juicers or fire extinguishers and some of the other items it is important to have to be “Totally Ready”. I believe the best place for a mom is in the home with her kids whenever possible. I know that is not always possible but I have seen miracles in kid’s lives when that is the case. I fear thinking you are a stay at home mom while spending a 30-40 hour week couponing is going to hurt the family in the end and not really accomplish the goal of self reliance either.

  12. Kim says:

    I used coupons to fill a variety of areas in my preps, mainly nonfood areas like medical and cleaning supplies.  And now I use coupons or really good sales to refill those areas as needed.  It has made "emergency" trips to the grocery store almost nonexistent.  Originally, I could spend up to 3 hours a week preparing for sales.  But….I don't spend much time on it now, max time nowadays is an hour a month.  That's the time to review the ad match ups and get any coupons if there is something I need to refill.  I also use them to get good deals on decent food items to take to the food bank.
    Something that people need to keep in mind when couponing though is to buy what you will use.  Just because it's a good deal doesn't mean that you need to buy it.  I have ignored many "good deals" because the items were not something we could/would use or something I would donate. 
    But I have problems with people who clear a shelf out and people who will take large batches of store based coupon books for themselves.  My rule is that if I need a large quantity of something I will go to several different stores and get a few at each.  And if there is a good coupon that I will really use, then I barter for extras or buy them.  For me there is a balance and a desire to allow others to receive the same deals.  I will even leave extra coupons for others if I have gotten more than I need for an item.
    I have to agree – the Extreme couponing shows only show the extreme side.  Not the average or the common sense side.

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