One byproduct of the recent economic downturn is a renewed interest in saving money. The reality-TV phenomenon "Extreme Couponing," sought to feed that interest. Instead, the show shocked and disgusted many watchers. Extreme couponers can save hundreds of dollars on their groceries by taking advantage of as many coupon possibilities they can find. They are exceptionally organized and spend hours collecting and sorting coupons from every possible source. On the acceptable side of the social behavior spectrum, these coupon shoppers will purchase large numbers of sale items they can use and store them until needed. However, some buy in excess simply because the items are cheap or free and stock away hundreds of items they could not possibly use in a lifetime. The idea of saving money through couponing is a good one, but taken to an extreme it can become an unhealthy obsession.
Hours Spent Clipping Coupons
Coupon clipping has never been a fast way to save money. You must go through newspapers and magazines to find coupons for the items you need. Then you must clip and organize them so you can find them when you get to the checkout stand. Extreme couponers can spend up to 30 hours each week finding and clipping coupons. That is almost as many hours as a full time job, just to find the coupons.
Stockpiling Sale Items
A common side effect of extreme couponing is the large stockpile of items that builds up in the pantry. Couponers like to take full advantage of a sale, so they will purchase as many sale items as allowed under each coupon. This can lead to a garage filled with 70 packages of toilet paper, or a pantry with shelves and shelves of the same cereal. Buying the items on sale seems more important than the practical use of the items at home.
Tidy, but Still too Much
Unlike hoarders, extreme couponers keep their overstocked items extremely well organized. Some of their storage rooms look better than the grocery store. The items are kept clean and sorted neatly into categories. However, no matter how clean and neat they are, though, these couponners still have more than they can ever use. It could take years for a single family to work through 50 jars of mayonnaise, no matter how much money they saved on the purchase. If a hoarder is defined as someone who keeps stacks of unnecessary items stored in their home, couponers are dangerously close to matching that definition.
Underlying Causes Could be Unhealthy
When the stockpiling becomes impractical, it might be time to look at the real causes pushing the extreme couponing behavior. The initial reason for couponing is to save money, which is a healthy pursuit. When the bargain products begin to take over your home, you might have changed your reasons for chasing the coupons. The piles of "stuff" become a security blanket that some cannot live without. Extreme couponing walks a fine line between frugality and obsession.
This guest post comes from TherapistSchools.com. The site helps students find addiction therapist schools as well as options for finding degrees in other forms of therapy.