9 Reasons Extreme Couponing Is a Total Waste of Time

Everybody is looking to save money, but is extreme couponing worth it?
Updated May 2, 2024
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In a world where saving money is a constant pursuit, extreme couponing has gained popularity as a way to boost your bank account. However, what appears to be a money-saving opportunity often turns out to be a time-consuming and inefficient endeavor.

While couponing can offer some benefits, the extreme version of this practice often falls short of its promises. Let's delve into the reasons why extreme couponing is a complete waste of time and effort.

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Time commitment

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Wrist watch product shoot

Extreme couponing requires a significant time investment. You’ll spend time not only cutting and/or printing the coupons but also organizing them. You'll also need to scour sales ads weekly to find the best deals. 

After all of that, you'll still need to plan your trip to the stores and actually make the purchases — and scanning all those coupons in the check-out line is not a quick endeavor.

Diminished returns

gstockstudio/Adobe woman calculating finances at kitchen counter

The time spent searching for deals often outweighs the actual savings achieved. While you may be able to score a basket of free groceries, are you keeping track of the time it’s taking you to do it all? 

If you were to spend that time working at a part-time job or working overtime at your 9-5 job, the cost savings might be obsolete.

Limited product selection

_KUBE_/Adobe woman reading product label at supermarket

Coupons are typically available for specific brands or products, restricting your product choices and potentially leading you to make unnecessary purchases. Manufacturers often use coupons to incentivize purchases of new items. 

This is a marketing tactic that forces you to buy their specific product in order to “save money.” 

Store brands may have the same or similar for cheaper, even without the coupons.

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Storage issues

MichiruKayo/Adobe dry food in kitchen cabinet

Stockpiled goods purchased through extreme couponing can take up a lot of real estate. But is the savings worth sacrificing your closet space and your sanity?

You may have scored a great deal on a year’s worth of laundry detergent, but now you have to store it, and clutter can actually result in negative mental health outcomes. 

Expiration issues

8th/Adobe woman holding milk bottle in supermarket

Coupons have expiration dates. If you spend hours accumulating coupons but can’t use them before they expire, all the time spent printing and/or cutting them out is for nothing. 

Also, when you stockpile items, they may expire before you can use them, though you may be able to donate expired items to a local food bank to help use up supplies quickly.


PR Image Factory/Adobe elegant female grocery shopping

If you're a sucker for a good deal, you aren't the only one. When you find a good deal, there's a dopamine spike in the reward center in your brain. 

With extreme couponing, you may overbuy simply because it's a good deal — not because you need the items. This could look like buying pet or baby products when you don't have either in your home to use them.

Coupon policies

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe blonde worker keeping products in shelf

Retailers have different coupon policies. Some stores allow you to stack paper and digital coupons, along with store promotions. To get the most out of couponing, you will need to know and understand these policies. 

Unless you understand and remember each store's policy, you could end up wasting time and spending more money than planned.

Supply issues

Artem Varnitsin/Adobe customer paying using phone at cafe

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people rushed to their local stores and bought way more than they needed and stockpiled extra items. Excessive consumption driven by extreme couponing can create issues for their local community. 

The common behavior of buying more than you need, even for a good deal, causes supply issues for stores and other customers which means other people may not be able to find the items they need.

Opportunity costs

fizkes/Adobe Africa American woman reviewing budget

Time spent couponing could be used for more productive or enjoyable activities. One former extreme couponer posted on Reddit, “It was like a full-time job. I used to do it, and it was miserable.” 

On the popular TLC show Extreme Couponers, some of the people featured admit to choosing couponing over spending time with their spouse, children, and friends. While saving money can be beneficial, you may have to sacrifice relationships in order to extreme coupon.

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How to save money without extreme couponing

A_B_C/Adobe woman shopping organic vegetables at store

It’s possible to save money without dedicating 20+ hours a week to the pursuit. Here are some strategies you can use:

  • Use digital coupons: You don’t have to give up coupons entirely. Digital coupons take seconds to use and still allow you to save money when grocery shopping — without spending hours clipping.
  • Store loyalty programs: If you frequent a specific retailer, take advantage of its loyalty program to save some cash. Many retailers will let you stack store promos and digital coupons when you join their loyalty programs.
  • Make a budget: A good old-fashioned budget can help keep you on track financially by creating spending limits for groceries and other categories.
  • Follow coupon social media accounts: If you want to score a good deal, let savings influencers do the legwork for you. Then implement their strategies and save on items you know you will use.

Bottom line

Scott Griessel/Adobe beautiful latina woman with coupons

While extreme couponing may seem like a shortcut to financial freedom, its drawbacks often outweigh the benefits. The time, effort, and stress involved in chasing deals and stockpiling goods can have a negative effect on both your finances and well-being. 

Instead of focusing on extreme couponing, you can adopt more sustainable and efficient strategies to save when you shop.

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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