The Best of Extreme Couponing

Media Type: TV Clips Topic: Opportunity Cost

Extreme Couponing

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Most of us use coupons from time-to-time when it is convenient. Extreme Couponing showcases the lives of a small number of shoppers who plan their trips to the store with military precision. They clip coupons, scout out the stores that offer the best coupon deals, and buy products in enormous quantities to save money.  While these couponers often get groceries for practically nothing and appear to beat the system, they take a lot of trouble to secure a “deal.” Some dive in dumpsters to get the discarded Sunday coupon sections. Others keep food stashes that take up most of the space in their homes. They use spreadsheets, folders, and calculators to determine how to save as much as possible. The returns are typically hundreds of dollars in savings each time they visit the store. 

However, as good economists we know that getting a really good deal on something doesn’t make it “free.” The amount of time it takes to be an extreme couponer is staggering. It is the equivalent of a part-time job. Clearly the participants do not fully account for the time they spend on couponing. Saving $200 at the store sounds great unless it takes you 20 hours to do so; that’s only $10 an hour. If many of the people on the show did the math, they might find that they could earn substantially more by putting their organizational skills to use in the workforce. It is this very reason that causes many households not to clip very many coupons in the first place. Time is money.

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