Friday, December 31, 2010

An excellent message

I'm planning on recapping the year that was 2010, just as soon as I go through my budget and examine areas where I failed and succeeded. Despite the setbacks: underemployment, a commute, general lack of money I think I've done pretty well this year. But that's another post.

One thing that burns me up is the way we're constantly told we need more stuff. We get this from advertisers and we do it to ourselves too. I've quit reading most frugality blogs because instead of actually being about spending little and living well for less, they end up being about getting good deals on stuff you don't need. Yes, I get sucked in sometimes too, I'm certainly not perfect, but it seems like some people will buy something just because it's two dollars, rather than because they actually need it.

The frugality blogosphere is abuzz with talk of this new TLC show Extreme Couponing. I haven't seen it, I most likely will not watch it, but the premise in a nutshell is that it profiles some of those extreme couponers that stack coupon on top of coupon and somehow manage to get thousands of dollars worth of stuff for practically free. I also find it incredibly bizarre that there's one show called Hoarders that derides filling your house with crap, and this new one that seems to celebrate it.

One of the extreme couponers "has more than 10,000 items stockpiled in his garage" Another, " Amanda is preparing for her largest checkout ever consisting of nine baskets of food, beauty and pet products including 218 boxes of pasta, 268 containers of noodles, 100 bottles of sport drink and 150 candy bars.
Retail value: $1,175.33. Amanda's cost after utilizing her coupons: $51.67."

Ok, good for her? Personally, I've had a terrible time trying to eat all of the boxed pasta I hoarded back in the day, and now two years later, I still have some left. And 150 candy bars? Why would you ever, ever want to buy 150 candy bars? This stuff has an expiration date, isn't very healthy in the first place.

This is a bit of a rant, but my point is, we need to stop buying stuff we don't need. I recently read the statistic that American spend about 12% of their disposable income on food. Compare that to the 25% that Mexicans spend or even the 14% that Canadians spend, and we come out looking pretty good, but we take it to such an extreme when it comes to looking for deals, that we seem like crazy people. My resolution, for New Year's and forever, is and has been to buy less stuff. I have what I need, my life is comfortable, everything else is just clutter and something I'll eventually have to move.

I'm not a huge fan of Bill Maher, but I saw this yesterday, and he really got it right:


  1. The whole idea of this Extreme Couponing show disgusts me. I can't stand having "stuff" that isn't useful in some way lingering around. By the time the one guy uses his 1100 boxes of cereal, it's likely going to be bad and go to waste. Why ...don't they show these people using their couponing powers for good, and donating these items to a homeless shelter or something?

    I also agree that it seems bizarre to showcase something like this when Hoarders is on the same channel. I use coupons, but only for items I know I will use.

  2. Okay, did some research...the boxes of cereal went to a food pantry!