No doubt does it seem that today is harder than yesterday regarding everyday living expenses and freedoms. I mean everything seems to be creeping up in price; gas, movie tickets, cable/internet, not to mention taxes and of course, food costs. No wonder so many people claim it’s too expensive to eat-clean. Thankfully, now-a-days there’s points-cards, sales, and coupons to help us get through the daily-drainage of our wallets which is totally helpful. Why not take advantage?
Couponing has been on the rise like no other because most Americans are unfortunately middle-to-lower class who feel the financial stress everyday so it makes sense to take that route. However, it’s almost become a sport or a day-job for some who will scour anything with print on it for the sole purpose of getting anything and everything for free or literally for pennies. Extreme Couponing, like the TV series is a great way to save money, but is it really a healthy lifestyle and the only way one can afford to eat-clean?
I am one of those struggling Americans too, so of course on a down-day doing laundry and such, I turned on the TV and Extreme Couponing happened to be on so I made myself take a 10-minute break. I just had to see what the fuss is all about or what I could be missing out on. Maybe I’m doing something wrong because how does one walk away with nearly $500 of free groceries? I could use an extra $500 per month! What I witnessed was both remarkable and pathetic at the same time. For those who have seen the TV series may disagree all-together, or maybe after reading this they’ll have a different point of view.
Either way, individuals on the show state how they love to recruit everyone they know to take on the same habit which is thoughtful, but is it helpful? More-so, are they buying healthy? Sadly, usually not as they have different goals wanting pretty much anything while others just want to learn how to save a buck with items they actually need that fit their healthy diet. Free stuff is great, don’t get me wrong, but since there are freebie opportunities by Extreme Couponing, it can unfortunately send mixed-messages to those actually looking to find ways to eat-clean on a budget, like you and me. The bottom line is, nothing’s for free and anything advertised for free always has a catch.
Yes, it’s awesome to know that if you play your cards right you can get other items too, like 65 rolls of paper towels for free. Seriously, no kidding. People have literally walked out of the store with a train of carts just from one item alone. Talk about a good thing especially if you have a houseful of kids and pets or even a messy hobby. But does one also need to have 40 bags of “Hungry-Jack’s” powdered mashed potatoes? And if you walked away with that kind of deal, it’s basically a steal so you can imagine how goal-driven and dedicated one can be to benefit from such an opportunity.
Can This Lead to Addiction?
For those who disagree that one can develop a mental addiction as if it were bad; yes, I agree, there are far worse addictions. No, I’m not saying it can drive a person to the nut-house, but what I am saying is that it can ultimately drive them to a therapist.
So how can going to the grocery store lead someone to a therapist? Well, think of it like this: Although couponing is designed to keep you within or under your budget, like I mentioned, everything has a catch. If you’ve come to the point where you find yourself stealing your neighbor’s paper so you can clip-out a ‘buy-one, get-one-free’ pack of hot-dogs in addition to the one that you have from your own yard, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself; “do I really need hotdogs? No really; because if you typically eat a single hot dog over a month’s period of time, what’s the point of having the extra dogs?
Going on a scavenger-hunt for coupons to save on items that really aren’t healthy and/or needed is literally a waste of time. Using your little key-chain scan-thingy, any phone apps in addition to the few coupons that you did find are sufficient enough which should only take about 30 minutes making sure you got everything you need. Here these people are on TV spending up to 6, even 8 hours looking, cutting, piling, sorting, calculating—I mean WOW. That’s a lot of time and effort and very admirable to do such hard work for the sole purpose of benefiting from couponing. This is also where I said being ‘remarkable’ is obvious that not only are these individuals driven and know how to do “their job,” but in the end they feel proud as well as accomplished; a well-deserved pat-on-the-back.
If It’s Free I Need It!
Where I personally find it pathetic reflects back to the hot-dog scenario or the 40 bags of powdered-taters. Seriously, I don’t get it! One shopper stated: “If it’s free, I need it; and here as you can see I have enough to last me for well over a year” as she showed off her display of over-flowing groceries, Hungry Jacks included. Do you see the unhealthy mind-set of “if it’s free, I need it” and how it can drive someone to an obsession and yes, potentially even to the therapist?
The average household pantry is not meant to stow mass groceries. It’s definitely a bad thing when other rooms such as the laundry room, garage, even guest room start over-flowing with items that will once again, “last for well over a year” un-necessarily hogging valuable space where you could put your dirty clothes, a spare bed for mom and dad when they visit, or even your car. I just can’t imagine the overflow storage of 19 bottles of salad dressing, 25 boxes of Captain Crunch cereal, 50 cases of Top Ramen noodles in addition to many other bargain items obtained. This is a prime example of having more concern of quantity over quality of food. Given this, is this the same goal you want to reach as those who just want everything for free regardless if it’s healthy or not?
So, after my 10 minute break, I felt better that I wasn’t missing out on the greatest thing. However, I felt sad and frustrated at the people who spend countless days applying themselves and recruiting others to take on such a poor habit even though it has good intentions. Boxed, bagged, canned, even (most) frozen foods make-bank for the higher-ups in marketing, corporate, etc. but it’s also slowly killing the rest of us off. Not just by death, but many capabilities to do things we all take for granted such as bearing children, maintain energy to play with your kids, walking without a walker, I mean it can go on-and-on. The bottom line is I learned that saving money by extreme couponing is not necessarily the same as clean-eating for less. People just have to be more creative in the kitchen with whole foods to stretch their dollar the same way people coupon for the same benefit. So next time you see a coupon for a processed food that says ‘buy one, get one free’, just think to yourself: what are you really buying? The cure to a disease or the cause to a disease?