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Extreme couponing refers to the use of coupons in a way that is taken to a tremendous, perhaps excessive, extent. This surpasses the use of coupons on a semi-regular or regular basis, and refers to the use of coupons in ways that can result in savings that surpass the amount spent. Extreme couponing can be taken too far and may develop into a form of obsessive and compulsive behavior and potentially result in hoarding.
While couponing in general refers to the steady and systematized use of coupons, extreme couponing goes beyond this usage and can result in otherwise impossible savings. Coupons are typically pieces of paper that provide a discount for someone on a particular product or service. Manufacturer’s coupons are issued by the manufacturer of a product and used to reduce the cost of a product at purchase, which is then paid back to the retailer by the manufacturer. Many stores also issue coupons that can be used only at that specific store, and extreme couponing seeks to combine these various coupons with other sales and deals.
Though extreme couponing can simply rely on the use of numerous websites to quickly and effectively track the best coupons and sales available, there are other behaviors that can be a part of such couponing. Some people search through garbage containers to find unused coupons that have been discarded. Basic extreme couponing, however, often relies on stacking coupons to combine them toward a single purchase. A product that is half price, for example, might be further reduced by one or two coupons, potentially to the point that the savings surpass the cost and the business effectively pays the customer to take the product.
Some extreme couponing can lead to unhealthy behavior when taken to excess. There are some people who may begin devoting too much time to couponing, often dozens of hours each week. This can have a negative impact on their social lives, and potentially lead to isolation or other negative social consequences. Extreme couponing can also result in purchases on products that are unneeded, and keeping hundreds or thousands of unnecessary products can result in hoarding behavior that is also typically unhealthy and obsessive in nature.
I tried the couponing thing for a while, but I found out I just don't buy enough groceries to make it cost effective -- or time effective. I like a good deal as much as the next person, but unless you're buying stuff for kids, couponing really isn't a good use of your time. Most of the really good deals are for diapers, baby food and other kid-related items, or for stuff I don't use. I figured I wasn't saving money if the coupons weren't for items I don't buy anyway.
That's the secret to effective couponing: you have to be a shopper who buys a lot of brand name items and you tend to buy what retailers release coupons for. Otherwise, buy the store brands and save money.
And yes, the couponers themselves are a little crazy. I went to one of those couponing workshops, and those women scared me.
These people tend to be rude, too. I was in the store, in line, had my 10 or 15 items already on the register belt, and Coupon Mom comes zooming up behind me. She had a cart with enough stuff in it to feed Grant's Army and a huge notebook crammed with coupons. I was thankful I didn't get stuck in line behind her.
Apparently, the person in front of me wasn't checking out fast enough to suit Coupon Mom, and neither was I. Obviously, her time was far too important to be stuck in line behind someone who wasn't also couponing. My stars, what a fuss she raised! Not to anyone in particular -- just to the air.
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