Monday, April 11, 2011

Trend or For Real? Responsible Couponing vs. Hoarding

If you haven't seen it already, TLC has a new show called "Extreme Couponing."  Sweets and I caught the premier episode and were both really amazed by all of the stuff that these people were actually getting for next to nothing or even free.  Ringing up hundreds or even over a thousand dollars worth of products and saving anywhere from 80% to 90 something % on what they bought.  Here's the site for show so you can catch up on what I'm talking about here if you haven't seen it and want to take a look:

TLC Extreme Couponing

One thing to remember when watching this is that it is a reality television show.  Taped and edited for TV and to draw ratings.  They really need to add the disclaimer "results not typical" at the beginning and end of the show because it gives the illusion that they are saving way more than is realistic in my opinion.

Now, there are a few obvious things that I want to bring to your attention that you may not have noticed if you saw the show and were caught up in the OOOO and AHHH of it all.
  • There's a difference between stockpiling things you need to survive and hoarding.
This woman also has an estimated 40 year supply of toilet
paper in another room of her house.
That's right kids.  Did you SEE all of the stuff that they already have piled up in their homes?  Some of these people had an unbelievably large number of everything from toilet paper to pasta.  If you are having to install shelves in your bedroom and it starts to resemble a corner drug store because your basement, closets and cabinets are full of the other stuff that you have been collecting then you just may be exhibiting hoarding tendencies.

Even non-perishable food items do eventually break down.  That is why companies have put expiration dates on them.  The "best if used by" that you see on cans and bottles.  These are different dates than the "sell by" that you see on things like milk.  Canned food DOES eventually go bad and it's usually within a year or two of packing.

I saw people with hundreds of toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo bottles and cleaning supplies.  So I'm guessing these are the cleanest, best smelling people in the world with the cleanest houses ever because they were so overloaded with the stuff that there is no way it could possible all be used by them and their families in their lifetime.  Well, unless they are spending so much time tracking down coupons to cut out that they have neglected their homes, their kids and the other things that require our attention in life.

For some reason I get the feeling that this show is possibly an offshoot of another one of TLC's popular shows but just a cleaner example.

TLC Hoarding- Buried Alive

  • A couple of the people on the show admitted to spending an extreme amount of time clipping coupons and scheduling their shopping visits and hours in the store including checkout.
That's all fine and dandy, I'm a VERY live and let live person.  But I'm also a person with very strong opinions and the soapbox in which I can post them.  :)

Dumpster diving for coupons with a small child and your
pregnant friend?  You really need coupons that badly?
I say do what makes you happy and if you want to spend that much time putting together your shopping trips, clipping coupons and searching the internet then by all means go for it.  But the ones that admitted they spend this much time are also the ones that are buying a LOT of coupons (we'll get to that in a minute) and turning their homes into mini-marts.

Not to mention the time that it takes to shop and check out.  2 hours in the checkout line alone is a lot of time.  I guess it depends on if the time you spend is worth it to you but I would rather chew on broken glass than spend that kind of time in a checkout line to buy more of what I already have an abundance of at home.  
  • Some of them admitted to buying large numbers of coupons.
You can "purchase" coupons from clipping sites online
for approximately 12 cents on the dollar at most sites.
Ok, yeah I know it's illegal to sell coupons so technically they are paying a handling fee to the seller for the time it takes to cut and package the coupon for delivery.  I even "buy" coupons and have done it for years and you probably have too without even realizing it.  If you purchase a school fundraiser card or a discount book, you too are buying coupons.

I've been buying coupons for Sweets' headache powders for a couple of years.  They usually run about $3.99 a box and I can get 20, $1.00 off coupons for $1.00 for his brand online.  Since he goes through about 2 or 3 boxes a week, yeah I'm going to buy the coupons.  It just makes sense to do it because we save $19 on something that we buy on a regular basis anyway.

The show mentioned buying coupons a couple of times but I noticed that it was mentioned quite quickly and never elaborated on.  One woman spent $70.00 for coupons for one shopping trip but ironically enough, that cost wasn't added into her final register receipt after her shopping trip.  They only showed the total at the store minus her coupons creating the illusion that she saved more than she really did.

If you are buying a coupon for an item then that item isn't really free.  One woman bought 100+ candy bars that were "free" once she used the coupons that she bought online.  Sorry, they weren't free.  From what I found in looking at a few sites for this blog, after she bought the coupons she ended up paying about 6 cents a piece for them.  So, she did get a good deal at about $6.00 for 100 candy bars but $6.00 is NOT free like the show said when showing her counting them into her cart.

The show has been a hit and sparked a serious interest in extreme couponing but in my opinion is misleading people into thinking that getting a thousand dollars worth of stuff from the grocery store can always be bought with less than $100.00 using coupons.  I've been couponing on and off for years and HATE getting caught behind a person with a ton of coupons at the store.  But when it's a necessity I've been known to come up with some really awesome deals.  But if we won't use it or it's not something that I can get for free to donate to a charity then I'm not going to waste the time and energy to get it.  Extreme couponing is not always responsible couponing.

The object of the exercise is to save as much money as you can on the things that you already use.  Yes, you can get things for free and yes, you can save a LOT of money by using coupons with minimum time and investment.  Coupons have become big business in an economy where a lot of people are struggling to make it and food prices are going up at the rate of approximately 5% per year.  Remember that fact and that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and you'll do well with saving money with coupons.

There's a website that I visit that does the work in helping people figure out when to use their coupons to get the best deals.  You don't have to spend hours and turn your self into a hoarder by buying large quantities of one particular item.  I use this site on a regular basis to be alerted of sales that can be combined with a coupon for amazing savings at the grocery and drugstore.  I don't receive anything for showing you this site, I just think it's a great site.


Responsible couponing is the way to go.  You don't have to be a hoarder and spend an unbelievable amount of time to benefit from sales and coupons.  If it's free and you won't use it get it anyway and put it in a box in your closet.  When the box is full donate it to your charity.  (More about responsible charitable giving in tomorrow's video blog.)

So, have you seen the show and what do you think about extreme couponing?  I'm curious to know what YOU are thinking so let me know in the comments below.  

I hope you guys had a great weekend!



  1. hahaha to each their own but extreme couponing is nuts in my opinion, the time you waste getting all those coupons and lugging all the crap you don't need, not to mention building shelves, storing it and blah blah blah, isn't worth saving a whole 20 cents. These people are wackos, but if the world ends in 2012 least they'll have a good supply of toilet paper..hahahaha

  2. LOL! Isn't that the truth!

    I'm able to get some things for free with coupons but won't be hiring out a Ryder Truck anytime soon just to score 3 lifetimes of toothbrushes or pasta. These people are just NUTS with it. I think greed and gluttony comes into the picture too but I could be wrong. It definitely screamed "hoarder" to me though when watching the show with some of these people.

  3. Yep hoarder is putting it nicely and yeah greed definetly comes into play. As they want to make themselves feel good by having more toilet paper than anybody else..yeah you know you're great when..haha

  4. Lanie,

    I have not watched the coupon one, but have watched the hoarding one. I have to admit that the hoarding one has creeped me out SO much I have had to turn it off. I don't use coupons very often. I just tend to buy thing when they are on Kroger plus card. I also get .10 off a gallon per $100 I spend in a month at Kroger. Which comes in handy as gas prices increase.

    Chris :-)

  5. Hi Chris-

    You should watch it just once because it's a combination of laughs and OMG's!

    Yes, the gas discount at Kroger is REALLY going to be coming in handy here as gas prices go up again. Grrr! Thank goodness I don't have to drive to work everyday because I really don't think we would be able to afford it.


Say want you want but be nice or be gone. :)