By Emily Belcher
Have you ever thought that saving money could be a waste of time? That question may sound ridiculous at first but I can confirm that there are times when too much time is spent by cutting costs. Simply put, you can’t save money if you don’t have any to begin with.
Take extreme couponing, for example. After I had my son, I desperately wanted to stay at home with him. However, I went back to my nursing job part-time. I knew that my part-time employment was not going to make ends meet financially so I decided to give coupons a try.
I watched a few episodes of TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Okay… Maybe I watched a whole season of the addicting reality show. I remember a few of the women claiming that they were able to quit their full-time jobs because of their couponing. One even claimed that couponing enabled her to purchase a brand new SUV. As great as it sounds, it just isn’t possible.
Sure, you can save $40,000 a year as an extreme couponer. If you break it down, that’s over $3,333 per month. Compare that to the most recent USDA report, which states that a family of four typically spends $870.80 each month in groceries. That means that there are a whole lot of unnecessary items being purchased.
If you compare 40 hours per week couponing to 40 hours per week at a job, you will not be pleased with your outcome. This is because cash is worth more than a house full of products. Almost everything that you purchase in a grocery store has an expiration date on it. If you let an item expire, or a whole stock pile of items expire, then you have robbed yourself of some valuable time. And time equals money, right?
Take into consideration the amount of time that you spend clipping, organizing, and printing your coupons. Also pay attention to how often you are searching for deals at home and running to numerous stores to snag the latest deal. Saving money this way is a lot of work. A friend of mine just asked me last weekend about how to start couponing. After I explained, she said that is sounds like too much work. She’s right.
Aside from your time, there are also financial costs that you will need to think about. Printer paper, ink, and gas are huge costs. Not to mention the price of your Sunday newspaper. Where I live, our Sunday paper is $2.00 each. If I want a Sunday paper, I have to go to the store by 7 am. If I get there any later, they will likely be sold out to a woman who comes each Sunday and purchases every paper they have. Even if they only get 50 papers in, she is spending $100 off the bat on coupons. That’s half the cost of the regular 4-family grocery bill each month.
Since I wanted to stay at home with our son, and couponing wasn’t paying the bills, I had to figure out a new way of providing for my family. I feel very fortunate to have now found several work at home jobs. I still use coupons with almost every grocery trip but never spend over 2 hours per week clipping, organizing, and searching for deals. I am able to spend a lot more time earning money and less time focused on saving money, which is really what has kept us above water financially.
Emily Belcher is a freelance writer for two coupon websites. She transitioned from nurse to coupon expert shortly after having her first child. Saving money and holistic health care are her passions. You can learn more about her and her unextreme life by visiting her blog, TheUnextreme.