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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not Extreme Couponing Part I

As long as we are in TV mode-

In trying to save money for those silly luxuries for the second set of children, such as rent, food and clothes, a TV show might pop up on the radar. Extreme Couponing is offered several times a week on TLC, but airs its newest shows usually on Wednesdays (Right now that interferes in a big way with Justified, a much more worthy show in my opinion, and no, the kids aren't allowed to watch it).

I noticed something in watching DVRd episodes of Extreme Couponing:
  • The couponers buy things they don't necessarily use. Some give those items to homeless shelters and food pantries, but too many extreme couponers keep those items as trophies. When it comes to collecting items not used, that's a collection at best and hoarding at worst.
  • It takes a lot of space to store all that stuff. I noticed one woman used the underside of her daughter's platform bed, and kudos to her. Others have had to make over basements and garages, to the point where cars and expensive tools are shoved aside to keep the stockpile dry. 
  • Coupon matching is crucial. If a body doesn't have an exact match-up for those particular coupons in the various ad papers in the various stores, there is no extreme savings. There can be savings, to be sure, but if you're watching them and thinking you'll get it for free as well, well, unless you have the same sales right now, um, no.  
  • Extreme couponers often, but not always, live in areas where there is at least one store that doubles coupons up to $1. I live in an area where NOBODY doubles coupons. 
  • Getting 70 coupons of one item cost money, in that one either has to use the gas to go dumpster diving, the shoe leather to go collecting coupons off people's doorsteps (Are you SURE he doesn't want to keep them?), or paying a coupon-clipping service. If the coupons aren't used, then the price of those coupons should be added into the monthly total spent. It only makes sense that despite purchase, sometimes it is better not to use a coupon.  

Call me cynical.  The twin sisters in my neck of the woods who collected diapers for one even though she had no children floored me. WHY? Why waste the space? And here's a news flash: Even diapers break down, as does toothpaste. Diapers are paper and plastic made to break down in landfills. Toothpaste, like mayonnaise, is an emulsion that separates in time. 

All this TV publicized thrift, combined with attending classes with the Girl Scouts through Chasing4Life, did made me consider the thought that it would be a good idea to have a stockpile of necessary stuff. 

I'm not LDS, but I have always been an admirer to a degree of any religious group that could feed itself and others in such a practical, American fashion of home storage; that is, provided the members remember FIFO (first in, first out) and keep tabs on the expiration dates. I have heard tales of mold and other nastiness creeping into those stockpiles of two years' worth of food and necessities. We won't discuss the canning plants run by the LDS, simply state that they are there for their members who choose to use them, and the food I've tasted from these plants has been pretty good. 

I must admit, the older I get, the less I like shopping for the mundane items, such as toothpaste, crushed tomatoes, popcorn and butter. It's nice to be able to get off one's haunches and simply meander to the shelves or the big freezer for deodorant, ice cream or ham, instead of walking to the store or worse, driving to the store.

Chasing4Life has a point about being prepared for an emergency. I've sat through 2 hurricanes (count 'em) and more than my share of blizzards (I didn't always live North), and watched people suffer without stuff or money to immediately buy new stuff or get silly luxuries such as water. When we made the emergency kits, much to the kids' delight, I did insist that they NOT be stored in bucket-style containers with lids, ala Rubbermaid and Sterlite, but in backpacks with frames or new garbage cans with wheels. What if the car doesn't work? Who is walking lugging tubbies? I also insist we rotate the stock in the emergency kits via FIFO, which I first learned as a crew member for Mikky D's a long, long, long time ago. 

And I am trying my best to keep my pledge to lower the cost of food, household support items and toiletries to 25% less than last year, despite rising gas prices that cause rising food prices. $7041 in a year is a lot of money to spend on anything, but on dish soap and potatoes it's surreal. I know my kids are hitting that age where they will eat us out of house and home, so it only makes sense to stock up. 

But stockpiling stuff we don't use? Illogical! 

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