I've watched this video (below) be passed around like wildfire over the past several months. Everyone seems intrigued - you can feed a family of SIX on just $4.00 a week?!
In theory, it is a great idea -- spend several hours a week searching for ads, cutting coupons, and planning your shopping excursion, to see your total bill drop from $200.00 to 1-cent!
Unfortunately, I am not convinced the benefits are just what they appear to be on the surface.
Take a close look at the items you are typically able to get for free. Check out this mother's pantry. All of the food we are able to stock pile as part of free shopping venues through our coupon cutting is not WHOLE, healthy, food that really does a body good. Rather, it is almost entirely made up of highly processed, prepared, non-living food. Other than the fish this shopper picked up at the start of her visit, her basket is filled with items that are not doing much service to the health of her own growing kids (or herself). Where are all the fresh fruits and vegetables? The whole grains? The 'cruelty free' meat (if there is such a thing) that has not been injected with antibiotics and hormones?
Are we really saving money on groceries today if we have a bigger health bill tomorrow?
In addition, the time spent searching and cutting coupons (as well as the extra time spent shopping for just the right item on your coupons, just the right amount to make these coupons work for you) may not be worth the trade in hours of time spent with your family doing something you all enjoy.
Add to this the fact that most food item coupons (not all - but many) are those that must be used on particular brands and in particular stores. This eliminates a lot of our choices in where we shop and the foods we select (i.e. from companies who use sustainable practices for example). It is our money that is our voting power for the foods we want and the type of stores we wish to shop at.
Finally, most extreme couponers need a place to stockpile their stash. I'm not convinced this mini-scale hoarding of items is the most healthy way to be obtaining and using our resources. Products/food could be donated, which may be one thing some goodwill extreme couponers end up doing in the future.
For now, I'd rather spend $100 on fresh, whole foods; shop in a location that I know is respectful of where food comes from (Whole Foods, Heritage, Roots Market, Hansen's Dairy, a local farmers market, etc.); and spend the extra time cooking up a scrumptious, health-conscious meal with my family.