I watched a show last night on the learning channel (TLC) that brought back memories and at the same time left me really puzzled by the purchases. It was a show called Extreme Couponing. The coupon people on this show bought thousands of dollars worth of STUFF for very little money because of their coupons. The main thing about using coupons in the show was that the store doubled the value of the coupons. A 50 cent coupon would become a dollar. A dollar coupon would become two dollars. The people spent hours and hours gathering coupons, matching the coupons up to sale items, going through the store to fill up several carts, and then going through the register line.
Let me tell ya, I was one of those who could buy several hundred dollars worth of STUFF for mere pennies if I chose to do it. I first started using coupons in the 60s when there were coupons and refunds (rebates) almost everywhere you looked and only a few people used them. Back then the stores gave away stamps that we put into books and traded just like money for things like sheets, dishes, appliances, furniture, and just about anything. The stamp stores had catalogs of stuff very similar to regular catalogs today.
Back in those days there were coupons for meat, fresh fruits & veggies, milk & bread, and just about anything needed to eat healthy. We didn't see convenience foods in the stores back then like we see them today either. I rarely paid more than 10 cents on the dollar for anything I needed. Often, after coming home with my goods I could mail off packaging parts and get refund checks sent to me for the items I paid only a few pennies for in the first place. Sometimes I earned thirty or fourty dollars a week by going through other peoples trash for packages offering refunds. Many times one package had several refunds that could be had by sending different parts. A top for one refund, a bottom for another, a weight seal for another, and sometimes just for sending a receipt.
Heck, even the stuff I bought for pennies had free stuff inside. There were bath towels, hand towels, and face cloths in laundry powder boxes. Glasses and dishes came inside oatmeal and cereal boxes. Jelly came in drinking glasses. Free stuff was given away at gas stations too. Fill up your tank and you got free silverware or other stuff plus they gave you stamps to put into your stamp books in the same transaction. Gas was from 15 to 30 cents a gallon back then as well. Oh to have those days again! If you got the oil changed in your car you got a coin inside every can of oil. The coins could be traded for stuff just like stamps.
Did you know Depression Glass dishes were originally free give away items at gas stations? They were. I think the whole "give something free for a purchase" phase came from the original free dishes given away during the great depression. Now those dishes are worth hundreds of dollars to a collector. I could go on and on about the free stuff and refunds back then but I don't want to bore you any longer with my trip down memory lane.
Ok, back to the people featured on the show. I don't know what part of the country those folks live in but what they did certainly can't be done here in Kentucky anymore. My suspicion is that after the manufacturers see the show; those people won't be able to do their extreme shopping anymore either. The people on the show really went way beyond what the coupons are intended to do. One man bought 1,000 boxes of cereal which he got for a few pennies. A Thousand boxes! No way can one person eat that much cereal in a lifetime. He bought 300 toothbrushes. So how many times would he have to brush his teeth to use up all those toothbrushes? He bought enough food stuff in one single shopping trip that it would last him 150 years or more if he lived that long. He said he shops like that all the time. His garage looked like walking into a mega store.
One woman said she was leaving her stockpile of groceries in her will. Her kids would inherit it. She bought 60 bottles of soda and almost 2 thousand dollars worth of other stuff for less than 10 dollars on her one shopping trip. Now come on! How many large bottles of soda can one family drink in 3 months? That's how long it would be before the soda is on sale and coupons would come out again. Ok, some people drink soda all day every day. But, how long will 500 boxes of pasta and 300 jars of pasta sauce last for a family of 4? I don't know about you but that would be way too many pasta meals for me before it gets too old to use.
It's people, like the extreme couponers on the show, that mess the system up for the rest of us. Back in the 80s there was a lady named Michelle Easter that went on tv and told of her extreme couponing too. She started a magazine called Refunding Makes Cents that was filled with the latest refunds out all over the country. People who subscribed to her magazine could trade refund forms with other people and double, triple, or quadruple the rebates they got from one package. A package they got for free in the first place. She messed it up for those of us who only took our fair share. It was only a year or two later that the refund forms started disappearing because the magazine created so many extreme refunding people. No manufacturer can continue to operate if every dollar they earn is given out in free items plus refunds too. They would go bankrupt very quickly.
Not long ago I was challenged to live without my coupons. I agreed to take the challenge but my neighbor continued to bring coupons to me. I kept them even though I wasn't using them. I have managed to live quite well without the coupons. Well, right before my last shopping trip I decided to have a look at my coupons once more. There are very few really good useful coupons anymore.
Out of all those coupons, I came up with only these that were actually usable for my purchases. The rest were for what I call junk items. Junk items that most other people don't like either.
After making out my shopping list and matching coupons to sale items..... I didn't use a single one of the coupons. I found better bargains on items that didn't have coupons out. For example the 40 cents off on yeast. Even if it were doubled to 80 cents the store brand would still be a dollar cheaper than one with a coupon. Stores here in my area stopped doubling and tripling coupons about two years ago.
If you find coupons that really are on products you use; then for heaven sake use some common sense when using them. For example let's say you use one roll of toilet tissue per week. (Ok your family might use more but this is only an example, K?) A year's supply would be 52 rolls or about 13 four roll packages. If the coupon and sale is out every three months then you only need 3 packages to last until the next sale. If you bought 4 packages every three months then at the end of the year you would have 16 extra rolls in your stock pile to help with any possible financial crisis.
Here's another example. Let's say you use about one jar of pasta sauce and one box of spaghetti a month. How many jars of pasta sauce and boxes of spaghetti would you need for a year? (12) The sale and coupon comes out every three months so how many do you need to purchase for a three month's supply? (3) How many extra to buy every three months for building your stockpile of emergency food? (4)
Ok, I do know there are people who keep up to 20 years worth of food and water in their stockpile. That's a lot of money tied up in stockpiled foods that could be lost to a disaster. I can't help but wonder how many of the people lost all their stockpiled food to flooding out west last year. How many lost their stockpile of food in the fires that swept across an area a few months ago. How many stockpiles are buried beneath the mud slides in California right now? You understand what I'm saying?
So if you are going to use coupons and stockpile stuff..... at least buy and keep no more than you can reasonably use and no more than you can afford to loose due to a disaster. Keep the money saved so you can replace what you need when you need it. Use coupons wisely and buy only your fair share.
Ok let me sum this whole post up into four simple words that anyone can understand.
God doesn't like greedy!
In my opinion God does want us to have food stored away; but, only enough to last a little beyond a year's supply. That's why he created the seasons. In the spring food is planted and farm animals have babies. During the summer everything grows and matures. In the fall it's all harvested and preserved to last until the next fall season. During the winter we start eating our stored up foods. Spring arrives and it starts all over again.
Even God's creatures know to store only about a year's worth of foods. What would it look like if squirrels kept a 20 year supply of nuts in their tree house? What would a ant hill look like if there were 20 years worth of dead bugs saved in it? How fat would a bear be if it stored up 20 years worth of fat for it's hibernation?
I'm not putting down anybody's religion. I'm just stating my own thoughts about what should be stored for the future. If your religon teaches you to keep more that's ok. We can agree to disagree.
Ok, blogger is acting up. It must be telling me to stop type-talking and post already!