Confessions of a reformed extreme couponer

Confessions of a reformed extreme couponer

Yes, you read that right…. I’m a reformed extreme couponer. What does that mean? It means you won’t see me lined up at a store at opening, doing pre-orders or stocking 3 years of items in my house anymore; I’m done.

I’ve been couponing since 2010, originally it was out of necessity. With a baby on the way and the imminent threat of my income dropping down to 55% I was in a panic, how could I possibly buy diapers, formula, medicine, and still manage the everyday costs of living when I was already just scraping by? My friend Danielle re-introduced me to the wonders of couponing, I tagged along on a shopping trip one day and was stunned…. was it really THAT easy to save gobs of money!? Why wasn’t everyone doing this!?

Diaper stockpile - Confessions of a reformed extreme couponer

And that’s where the problem started. Everyone started doing it..

Extreme Coupon Shop

I started small with just a folio of coupons, items that we used regularly and liked and it slowly grew from there. I went from a folio to a coupon purse and then finally to the dreaded binder. I amassed coupons totaling thousands of dollars and carried them with me everywhere, an Extreme Couponer will never miss a deal after all. We never buy single items, it’s always in the 10’s and 20’s if we can. With little regard for coupon etiquette many shoppers would clear shelves, damage product or take entire pads of coupons because they felt they were entitled, it was a slippery slope in the coupon world.

Extreme coupon shop

I spent 3 years extreme couponing, I saved tens of thousands of dollars, stocked my entire house in toiler paper, shampoo, laundry soap, tooth paste; you name it and I had it in large supply. Slowly every room in my house was shrinking and my family was suffering.

Extreme coupon shop

What really screeched me to a halt was the realization that I was buying things we didn’t use or need because it was free. Sure, I could always donate that item to someone who could use it but I was ultimately taking products out of someone’s hands that went to the store to find that specific item on sale, and couldn’t.

Some people who Extreme Coupon will tell you  that they donate most of what they buy but it’s rarely true (and I’m sorry if that is a generalization for some.. but in my experience, it’s accurate). They have a pretty stockpile room or shelf or hide it all under their bed. It’s their pride and joy. They enjoy watching the pile get bigger and bigger and knowing that they won’t HAVE to buy any toothpaste for the next 3 years!

Extreme coupon shop

In short… couponing is a drug and extreme couponing is the ultimate high. 

It takes hours to gather coupons, sort deals, organize your coupons and prepare for a shop. Sure, my time is valuable and I enjoy saving money but I found that I was taking far too much time away from my family to grab a deal that we didn’t ultimately NEED and I chose to re-assess my priorities.

While I will still continue to use coupons on my regular shopping trips, I won’t go out of my way any longer to grab that golden deal or buy in large quantities. In the long run it’s just not worth it in our house. So join me as I say goodbye to the binder, goodbye to the stockpile and hello to the world outside my scissors!

Are you a couponer? What are some of your pet peeves when out finding a deal? If you aren’t a couponer, what’s prevented you from starting? Leave me a comment below!

12 Comments


  1. I was only extreme from 2011- 2014, once stacking ended it made it much harder to get that good deal and just wasn’t as easy for me. I still check my flyers every week order my coupons but I have retired my binder and just have a small basket of coupons I match to my weekly shopping list. I am still living off my stockpile for many items and will likely still not have to buy for a few more years to come.

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    1. I’m right there with you Michelle, my stockpile is still pretty generous and I likely won’t have to worry about buying any big necessities for awhile. I think I’m just going to enjoy that. I’m still a flyer checker, don’t worry! 🙂

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  2. I was an obsessive compulsive couponer creating a trade group meeting a few years ago that started in the local malls and eventually grew in the lower mainland to multiple meetings with different groups and was featured on CTV National News. Slowly but surely over time a few bad coupon Apples ruined it for the rest and killed the spirit of the trade groups focus as they were trading coupons for the sole purpose of opening “stores” in their own houses to resell goods they were getting for free. When the London Drugs reversal of coupon stacking took effect was the last straw for me and since then my full time obsession and interest has been focused on contests…not sure which C word is more obsessive…lol

    Reply

    1. I think anything “free” can become obsessive, it’s ultimately a high that you will always be chasing. It’s a total rush to win something BIG, just as it is to have a great coupon shop. It’s never easy to pass up free, but I’m going to make a go at it! 🙂

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    2. R. You should probably start planning for your next move then, as contesting is being ruined by cheaters, people using multiple FB accounts and addresses just like the ones that take the whole coupon pads in stores. Sponsors will cotton onto this at some point and find another way of marketing or promoting their products without letting the dishonest people prosper.

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      1. I completely agree with you! Unfortunately sponsors really only care about the reach of the contest so in the end it doesn’t seem to matter who actually wins.

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  3. Oh and to answer your question, I still use coupons of course but only HVC, FPC or TMF. For all the rest there is the U.S.of A.

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  4. Tara, I will never say sorry to you for introducing you to the coupon in world. Like many other I have stepped back from the extreme portion of coupon in to being a more realistic everyday say shopper. The skills and strategies that I learned while being an extreme coupon have molded how I shop now. Yes we may buy some things on a week to week basis a snow stocking up includes only buying and extra 1 or 2 of an item depending on price and the limited storage space I have at home but it no longer includea buying quantities or products that my immediate family will not use or consume within a reasonable time frame. We still use coupons but I no longer have a binder hut rather a box that is shared between myself husband. It will continue to be a part of my shopping routine but not consume my free time.

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  5. I remember going in to get one thing and because there was a coupon, it was all gone! I just wanted one… not 20!

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  6. I used to coupon alot more than I do now. It just wasnt worth it for me. It takes too long collecting coupons. NO Name is always cheaper and never offers coupons. And Cashiers just dont understand coupons. It is easier for me to coupon only if we will really use it. ANd spend more time with my family

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  7. Boy, that sure looks like a lot of stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever found that many coupons.

    Reply

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