Thursday, April 21, 2011
Extreme Couponing and Me
"Extreme Couponing" is a new and controversial show on TLC. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a reality show filmed in a more "documentary" style about people who are extreme when it comes to couponing. Each show has people who walk out of the store with thousands of dollars worth of products for less than $50. Each episode promotes two new extreme couponers, including their massive stockpile, often worth more than Dave makes in a year.
While it's interesting to watch them do this (I mean, hello? Wouldn't you love to walk out of a store with $1100 worth of products for around $50?) there is a lot of controversy surrounding it.
The first episode of the series (NOT the "documentary" they showed in December, which is what made TLC decide to do a series) previewed a woman who is well known in the couponing world as a fraud. She has posted videos up about how to cheat the couponing system and has been banned from several of her local stores because of her practices.
Another big issue has been hoarding. Many of these people look like organized hoarders and TLC has shown very little about donations. If you read online about the "behind the scenes" many of these people do donate (and donate a lot!) but that doesn't make for as good of a show, so TLC hides it or pushes it off to the side. They did mention that one, Nathan "Mr. Coupon" Engles, donated over $50,000 worth of products last year, it was a single line, followed by a long discussion about his toothpaste wall. Nathan explains in this interview that he actually did donate most of that wall as well, but the show portrayed this wall as his permanent stash of toothpaste.
So what does that have to do with me and this blog? Well, I'm not an extreme couponer. Sometimes I make what could be considered an extreme purchase (like at the beginning of the year, when I paid $0.13 for 4 boxes of Exedrin, 2 boxes of Special K and 2 pairs of panty hose). It's a good shopping trip if I save over 50% and a great day if I save over 75%, both of which happen more regularly.
I do have a stockpile, but it's not extreme by any means, although the water I'm stocking up for Dave is getting almost out of hand (such good deals!) and my freezer is beginning to dislike the amount of stuff I've put in it.
I use my coupons correctly. I would never advocate coupon fraud and no, I won't teach you how to do it! I would rather be a normal couponer and spend a little more than cheat the system.
If you want to be an extreme couponer, I say more power to you. Have fun and please give me some tips. But I'm OK with where I am. Right now I can walk into my kitchen and have the pick of cereals for breakfast. Lunch has lots of options too and I don't have to worry about not having the stuff for dinner for at least a week or two. I'm happy with that. I have not dropped my spending one dime since I started shopping, but I have given my family much fuller pantries. Dave was actually complaining at me the other day when he realized I have 5 bottles of hot sauce in the pantry (which cost me nothing) because it will take him probably a year or two to go through it all.
If you're not an extreme couponer, don't worry. Most people aren't. But a show that advertises the average person walking into the store and saving 50% isn't going to make money. The best thing you can do is stick with what's best for you and your family.