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Day 165: Extreme couponers vs. minimalists

Extreme Couponers have their own at-home grocery stores. Pro?

So, it seems to me that there are two main branches of frugality being promoted these days. And they are:

1) Extreme couponing - popularized by the scary TV show. This is frugality based in extreme organization, meal planning, coupon clipping/printing and Groupon/SwarmJam/LivingSocial deal purchasing

2) Minimalism - popularized by numerous minimalist blogs and Vincent Kartheiser from "Mad Men." This is frugality based on purchasing very little, doing a lot of crafts, and selling off possessions

Neither of these, in their purest forms, really appeals to me. When you take Extreme Couponing to its most, well, extreme, then you wind up like the people on that TV show who have shelves and shelves filled with toothpaste or canned soup or croutons, who amass $600 worth of coupons and get lots of free stuff. Extreme couponers are saving money while amassing vast quantities of stuff.

Pros of Extreme Couponing: good for stockpiling things, saves money if you are purchasing something that you would be buying anyway

Dangers of Extreme Couponing: coupons tend to be for instant food, as opposed to for healthy ingredients or organic things. If you save $600 but now have $600 worth of toothpaste, is that really saving money? Or is it just being a hoarder?

The Uniform Project promotes a really cute version of minimalism.

If you take minimalism to its most extreme, then you wind up living out of a backpack, sleeping on park benches and owning only 2 things - your backpack, and some sort of one-piece coverall. Minimalists save money by getting rid of lots of stuff.

Pros of minimalism: environmentally friendly, spiritually fulfilling

Dangers of extreme minimalism: May cause pretentiousness that can be off-putting to other people, though you are spiritually fulfilled others may avoid you for your body odour

Are these two things compatible? Can a minimalist be an extreme couponer at the same time? Or is it best to combine the best of both - a little coupon savings here, a little minimalism there?

What do you guys think?


C.M.C. @ said...

I totally believe in "Everything in moderation." Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Too many coupons = bad. Too little spending = bad. If you can find something down the middle, I think people will find a balance that is worth sticking with. Being able to acquire coupons for a weekly grocery trip without having to amass a large quantity of items, is probably a good skill to have. And then there are times when practicing restraint and knowing how to craft (if needed) are also great skills to learn.
Moderation is key, I believe.

Jen @ SecondCitySoiree said...

The extreme couponers tick me off. They're taking advantage of the system, and their practices are ultimately have a negative impact on the greater good of the economy. Just think if every other shopper at the store was an extreme prices would rise sky-high!

youngandthrifty said...

I think they are mutually exclusive ;) I don't think there are extreme couponer minimalists.

Agree that extreme minimalism may be off-putting... though there was a post I read recently that buying 'experiences' like traveling etc. is the same as buying material goods. They both cost money.

Anonymous said...

There is the use of extreme couponing to benefit food banks and charities. Sadly, I can't remember which U.S.blogger wrote about his experiences of living off coupons for 30 days and, at the same time, donating hundreds of items including personal hygiene products.
Cheers from the UK!

Annabelle said...

Thanks for your comments, guys! I totally agree that compromising and finding a balance between using a coupon every now and then and being minimalist every now and then is probably the best bet.

I hadn't thought about the economic repercussions of extreme couponing until you mentioned it, Jen! But that's totally true - if too many people start abusing coupons, it would wreck things for everyone.

Donating coupon items to charity sounds like a good way to indulge coupon-addiction and help others at the same time. A good compromise!

candacemassari said...

The TLC show extreme couponing really gives couponers a bad name. You don't have to be an extreme couponer to save money, and you don't have to buy a garage full of stuff to save money either. If you think about it, its not really hurting these companies, even though most plan their coupon distribution on a 6% redemption rate, even if the redemption rate is increased, you're not cutting into the manufacturer's profit margin since they use a business strategy called "mass production." This means by producing more of a product they can allocate overhead costs over a greater number of items, which reduces the cost per item. Since sales are down in this economy, it wouldn't make a difference if for example, they sale 50 units at a higher price, or 100 units for the same profit after coupons. So overall it's not hurting the economy, and allows people like myself, living on a middle class income, to get the items i need, and donate just as much to families that are really struggling right now. Coupons are on literally everything, not just the carb-packed junk you see on tv. Yes, those items are free, but instead you can use coupons mixed with store sales and get organic items at a very good price, just takes some careful planning :)

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