Extreme Couponing

Last night I caught the new show Extreme Couponing on TLC and all I can say is wow! I commend these women for the time and dedication they put forth to save so much money (do not quote me, but one shopper bought $680 worth of groceries for $6)! Her monthly grocery budget is $160 for her family of 6! Incredible! I spend more than that in one week at Whole Foods.

While I think it is simply genius how they plan every item they will purchase, which days to shop for double coupons and store incentives, and how in some instances they are paid to take items out of the store, I still have a few concerns.

  1. Some of these families have such a huge stockpile of food and products that I don’t see how they can utilize everything before the expiration dates.
  2. Extreme couponing almost seems like an obsession. One man said he didn’t like mustard, yet his wife still purchased a dozen? Another woman purchased over 30 bottles of antiacid. “Extreme” is definitely the correct term.
  3. If you live a lifestyle in which organic and natural products (minimally processed foods) are what you predominantly feed your family, then extreme couponing will not work. I cannot tell you how many packs of hot dogs I saw inside these shoppers refrigerators! Then, one extreme couponer ran out of places to store her purchases so her master bedroom closet now holds her food stockpile as well as her clothing (there were over 30 boxes of sugary filled cereal above her wardrobe).
  4. Insisting the cashier ring up 18 separate transactions just to receive an additional savings does not seem appropriate. Neither does holding up a line so you can call friends and beg them to drive to the grocery store and stand in for you, so you can receive $10 off of each $50 transaction (one incentive per person).
  5. I’m wondering if this show will cause an increase in coupon usage. Grocery stores may need to designate certain aisles for extreme couponers so it does not disrupt their flow.

Again, I’m not trying to be a hater because I think it is amazing how much homework these families have done in advance. The savings is insane. In this economy, we have all felt pressure and this is a prime example of adaptation. I am simply pointing out that this may be an unhealthy obsession.

I clip coupons for items that my family regularly uses, not because something is on sale and I can either get it for free or stockpile my pantry. You won’t see me sifting through dumpsters to grab coupons that stores have thrown out.

Do you use coupons? What is the most you have ever saved in one transaction? What did you think about the show? I’m curious to hear other opinions.

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11 Thoughts to “Extreme Couponing”

  1. I definitely think the show is interesting, but I have to agree with your first point- they have SO much stuff that HAS to expire before they would ever use it! It is impressive, but I don’t know HOW on Earth they keep it all straight. Calling your friends and holding up one line at the grocery store for over an hour? It just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

    I do clip coupons for things that we use. My mom always told me that it’s not a good deal unless you need to buy it- so true. And I know I could do better about researching what will be on sale and when. But I don’t think I could EVER do like these people do!

  2. I don’t have the extra time it takes to find these coupons and deals. They have to spend hours searching, clipping, planning, etc. I work full time, go to school full time and take care of my family. I certainly appreciate saving money, and I’d love to get a cart full of groceries for next to nothing, but I just don’t see it happening.

  3. Julie, I feel the same way your mom does “it’s not a good deal unless you need to buy it”!

  4. Stacey – I hear you loud and clear about time. I would imagine it is a full-time job being an extreme couponist. While I commend these families for their money saving efforts, it just won’t work for me.

  5. I have to agree, I have never seen the show myself, but have heard TONS about it. I have actually started to do it, just not to the extreme of the people on the show. I have started my own money saving blog, which features match ups for Copps/Pick N Save, CVS, Walgreens, Save-A-Lot and more. There is also a site called WeUseCoupons.com that has about every store out there. I frequent that site a LOT. Myself, I have a binder w/baseball card holders in it to store my coupons. I usually save about 60-90% of the shelf price. The nice thing is I (and the other site) post all the weekly deals with links on where to locate the coupons, or if they came in the paper, the date and which insert. It is actually very easy to do. In the beginning it took more time than it does now. I had to figure out how to navigate the different tools out there. Mind you, I have a teenage son, a 2 year old daughter, work a full-time job AND train/show/raise horses (currently have 13 horses). The money I save is unbelievable. When I started out, I was buying stuff just b/c it was free. After about a month I realized “why”? I then stopped. I have since gone through what I don’t need or use (not very much) and donate it. I don’t have a lot of money, but there are people worse off than me. Now don’t get me wrong, if I see toothpaste or other daily necessities for cheap, free or a money maker, I will pick them up and donate. We have a womans shelter in our area and just think of all the abused men and woman that leave a violent situation with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they are very grateful for the little things in life. I regularly donate toothpaste, pads, tampons, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, floss, and other everyday needs. It makes me feel good that I can help out others. Everytime I hear negativity about the show, I just think to myself that every couponer out there is not a hoarder. I work hard for my money and choose to save where I can so we can do more of what we love! My mom is currently struggling to get on disability and has no source of income. Yes, she gets FoodShare but that doesn’t cover her health & beauty items, nor does it cover toilet paper and laundry detergent. If I can get 20 bottles of Purex at Walgreen’s tomorrow (I will NOT clear a shelf) with my $1 off 1 Purex coupons, you bet I will do it. I supply it to not only myself and my mom, but my elderly grandmother and my sister. I enjoy doing it. I don’t spend much time doing it. I am not in the stores any more than I normally was. I have 50/50 placement with both my children and I don’t do any major shopping when they are home. The extent of shopping on the weeks I have them might be for me to run to a store on my lunch break. I reserve my time with them FOR them. I don’t clip coupons when they are home. I might print a few that I know are going to disappear quick, but I put them in a folder for the next week. Also, I don’t buy any more than 2 newspapers a week. I do have a few people that save their inserts for me if they are not going to use them. I feel good about what I do for my family and with donating. If anyone would like more info on how to get started, drop me a line or stop by my site. It really is easy and not very time consuming. You can judge me if you like, but I enjoy doing it and save loads of money. You just need to learn the RIGHT way to do it, and not become a hoarder!

  6. Stacy, I think it is absolutely wonderful that you donate the items you do not use to shelters as well as provide for your family! That is great! Not all couponers are hoarders, so I hope my blog didn’t give that impression. I agree, people have to do whatever it takes to make it in this economy, but that show was just a bit too extreme for my taste. If anyone inquires how to coupon the right way, I will definitely send them to you blog. Thanks for your input.

  7. Unemployed Mom….I agree with a bit too much. But we also need to remember that it is reality and the person on the show may not have wanted to do some of the things, but for the shows sake they did it. I know in the first episode they cut out everything Nathan donated. The pics of the donation and the letter from the place it was donated to is on the WeUseCoupons.com website. He is actually a very nice guy. I haven’t gotten the impression that all couponers are hoarders. I was just simply pointing it out that all of us are not bad. lol

  8. i saw one episode and it was beyond crazy. just the stockpiling of stuff was too much. i have to agree with you they seemed to be completely obsessed with getting a deal. i agree too that if you try to eat more organic type stuff it’s just not the same. i have yet to use a coupon at trader joe’s.

  9. I think it’s borderline hoarding.

    Ohmygod, I’ve run out of space to put all these cheap ass toilet paper rolls! Where can I put them?” “Why don’t you put it in the bathtub with the rest of the 2345238 other ones?”

    I just don’t get it. BUY what you use!

  10. omg…i just blogged about this yesterday. i think these people are a little nuts, but the CLUTTER drives me nuts!

    that being said, i did take a few minutes to check out our favorite brands to see if i could find some coupons…i used 4 today. go me!

    here’s the link if you’re interested:

    http://thejoyofivf.blogspot.com/2011/04/couponed-to-death.html

  11. I think the show probably showcased the most extreme cases possible. I saw a YouTube video of a woman buying 100 Butterfinger bars and I wanted to jump through the monitor and smack her. But I would definitely stockpile things that I use on a regular basis. With a husband and 4 kids, I can never have too much toilet tissue, toothpaste, or deodorant. And we can put a serious dent in some cereal. But I don’t believe in buying stuff that I wouldn’t normally use. There won’t be any cans of Spam sitting in my pantry but if it is something I can use up long before the expiration date, I go for it. I don’t like the idea of inconveniencing people behind me in the checkout line, though.
    I just decided recently to try my hand at this couponing thing and I can see how someone gets a thrill out of saving money. I hope I never end up as one of those people who take things too far.

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