What’s wrong with extreme couponing? The reality series on The Learning Channel (TLC) aimed to highlight men and women who take couponing to the extreme, shows a much darker side of this phenomenon.
What the show inadvertently showcases is how obsessive, compulsive, and selfish these extreme couponers are. Instead of highlighting the strategies these people use to save incredible amounts of money on things we need every day, like an extreme couponing 101 course, they show viewers how badly they behave.
Credit: amazon.comEven when you take into account that Extreme Couponing is a show made and edited for television, it still shows the unpleasant side of these men and women. And what makes it worse is that these people show no remorse, even in a staged trip to the supermarket.
Yes, these trips are staged. Store managers need to know in advance that someone is going to buy out an entire supply of an item, or hold up a line for five hours with one cashier. No one wants to get stuck behind that person!
But even so, when you meet these people in their homes, they are absolutely giddy showing a forty year supply of toilet paper or a stash of one thousand tubes of toothpaste. A woman who has no children even has shelving stocked with diapers, in case she gets married and has children one day. It makes you wonder if these stockpiling tendencies are really a form of hoarding, even if it is organized hoarding.
When you are watching Extreme Couponing, you can see that the featured families’ stories are very similar. They either had mothers who were avid coupon clippers and they learned at their knees the value of saving a dollar. Why pay full price when you can get a discounted one, just by using a pair of scissors?
Others who are new to this grocery game came to extreme couponing due to an economic disaster. Some lost their jobs or had spouses that did, or the hours they were working were cut back dramatically. Becoming an extreme couponer permitted them to feed their families. They became motivated by fear, since they were now unable to feed their children.
But no matter what their stories are, taking these money saving, coupon clipping skills to the extreme is just wrong.
Credit: amazon.comI am an avid coupon clipper. I save between fifty to sixty per cent each time I go to the supermarket. Unlike these men and women who spend hours searching for free online printable coupons (imagine the cost of the ink they use) or spend hours with scissors or a paper cutter, I spend less than an hour for my savings. If I save one hundred dollars on my grocery trip, then my pay for the work is one hundred dollars an hour. It does not consume my life. (one featured woman actually told how she had trouble sleeping because she was so excited to get to the grocery store when it first opened).
So when I heard about the TLC program, I was eager to watch and learn Extreme Couponing 101. Could these supermarket savvy people help me to save even more money?
In fact, I did learn, but not what I thought I was going to. As I watched with my second grade twins, I was able to teach them lessons far more valuable than how to get fifty-nine bottles of mustard for thirty-nine cents each.
What’s Wrong With Extreme Couponing
First of all, these people are hoarders. Shower stalls, separate rooms, closets, and under the bed areas filled to the brim with paper towels, soda, cereal, body wash and deodorant that will go bad before it is used is wasteful. Simply wasteful. Why aren’t these stashes donated?
For example, take the man who proudly showed his room of one thousand tubes of toothpaste, all purchased for free. His featured episode showed him going to the grocery store to buy things for free to send in packages to our soldiers overseas. Among the items he bought at no cost was another twenty tubes of toothpaste.
The women putting these supply bags for their husbands, brothers, and other men and women in uniform were teary eyed with gratitude. Yes, this was very altruistic. But what about his room of toothpaste? How much can you possible use before it goes bad?
Time after time, while watching the show with my children, I would stop the program and ask them what was wrong with this picture. Why weren’t they donating the bulk of their supplies to food banks or other needy organizations? Especially if they have the skills to get even more for free?
Another thing wrong with these extreme couponers is that they are selfish. In several episodes, they clear off entire shelves of items, leaving none for any other shopper. They laugh as they dump entire bins of aspirin into their carts or clear off entire shelves full of Maalox. One had a husband who was trying to stop her, but she kept on going. Another husband’s eyes shined with pride as his wife bought ninety bags of croutons for free.
While it is a store policy that you can get a raincheck if the store is out of an item, but what if you really needed the item? You are out of luck.
While these shows are taped to show you the maximum amount of savings you can achieve in one trip, have you looked inside the cart of an extreme couponer? They are buying chemically laden, over processed junk food, which is very unhealthy for you. Very few have anything fresh in their carts. Where’s the beef? As my children watched, they could not believe that someone had a closet of soda and a shelf with fifty bags of potato chips.
Overall, there is a lot wrong with extreme couponing. In my opinion, if these people were shown going to the food bank or teaching their children about doing for others, it would be a much better show. While saving money in hard economic times is a good thing, hoarding is another.