Coupon-Loving Family Featured on ABC’s Wife Swap
I recently watched an episode of Wife Swap. Hey, I was at the gym and couldn’t change the channel. This episode was a good one though in terms of personal finance application. It pitted a cool, big-spending family up against a dorky, coupon cutting, money-saving family. Here’s the description of the frugal family:
“The McIntyre family from Michigan live to save – a trip to the supermarket can end up MAKING them money. Denise (48) and George (43) believe people who pay full price for anything are crazy, so they plan trips to the supermarket around their bulging binder of coupons and only eat out if they can do it at a reduced price. They keep stacks of cleaning products and toiletries in their basement acquired through their never-ending pursuit of two for one offers. With so much effort spent couponing, the McIntyres don’t have much time for friends or a social life – but they don’t miss what they have never had.”
I applauded the McIntyres for their commitment to saving for their kids education (one of the things mentioned in the show). And I was very much for this frugal Mom teaching that spending family a good lesson until I found out about the frugal family’s basement full of unused items and the way their frugal lifestyle had driven them to being such homebodies. Video of the McIntyres displaying some anti-social behavior.
I’m all for coupons. I love being able to save some money on my intended purchase. But I know couponing can take over your life and end up producing some negative effects, as it had with the McIntyres.
Couponing has Gone Wrong for You If:
- You have a bunch of extra stuff in your house that you’re not going to use. I was disappointed to see the McIntyres had a basement full of “deals”. What’s the point of getting 10 for 1 if you’re only going to use a couple and then you go for another 10 for 1 deal on the same product a week later? Part of being frugal, in my opinion, is being efficient with your purchases. There’s a time for storing up, but in the McIntyres case, they were just being pack rats. We’ve been guilty of this before. We recently threw out a half unused bulk load of garlic that had expired. I hate throwing away food, and we should have known we’d never use it all. But, hey, it was a deal, right?
- The coupon is making you go where you normally wouldn’t go. Trying out new restaurants is fun, but I prefer to do it on my terms, not when some corporate marketer is trying to drive me there with his deal. I think it’s best when you’re intentional with your spending. Only go and spend with a coupon if it’s somewhere you already frequent or somewhere you’ve been meaning to try. Live life on your terms.
- It takes more time to clip the coupons and drive around than it’s actually worth. Again, for me, being frugal includes being efficient with my money. If you’ve got a system that makes couponing quick and easy, great. But if you’re spending several evenings a week clipping coupons and driving to several stores to get deals, then you’re missing out on life. Is it worth it at this point? Only you know what your time is worth.
A Happy Ending for the McIntyres
At the end of the episode, the McIntyres concluded that while they plan stick to their couponing ways, they were committed to doing more with their kids outside of the house and generally being more active in their community. And the Dad even said he’d taken on some part-time work so they could have a little more spending money and not have to coupon as much. Bottom line: There’s a balance to be found with the whole coupon clipping thing. It seems the show actually helped the McIntyres find a better balance with their money-saving ways.
What do you think of coupon clipping? A complete waste of time? Use them when you can? Or are you a hardcore couponer?
Photo by: ninjapoodles