Discussion: TLC’s Extreme Couponing

I wrote a post on Rainy-Day Saver that’s suddenly seen a major uptick in page views. I think it’s because people are Googling the name of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” a new show that’s been getting a lot of attention over the holiday break. Searching for the show brings up the Rainy-Day Saver post on Google’s first search page.

One of the women profiled on Extreme Couponing picked up 20 liters of soda on one trip to the store. In another example, a man purchased 2,000 items in ONE SHOPPING TRIP, whittling down the bill from $5,743 retail to $241. This same guy has “10,000 items stockpiled in his garage” (TLC’s wording, not mine). And yet another saver has 3,000 rolls of toilet paper!

So I’d like to revisit the idea of extreme couponing — is it frugality at its best, or hoarding?

I’ll readily admit that I envy those who can whittle down a $300 shopping order to 20 bucks by stacking coupons, rebates and sales. But I think most people are hard-pressed to find the time and coupons required to get such fantastic “deals.”

That’s another thing — are they really “deals” if you’re buying 20 products that you won’t use before their expiration dates? Things like laundry detergent will last, but even toiletries like toothpaste are only good for so long. Same goes for grocery items such as canned and packaged goods. They have longer shelf lives, but they’ll still become unusable. I’ve seen it happen even when I “overstock” our pantry — sometimes, we just don’t get to that extra bottle of ranch dressing.

There are folks who donate much of their hauls to the less fortunate and organizations that help those in need. Some people dedicate tens of hours a week to finding these savings. Me, I try to save us money where I can, but I don’t always want to use the deodorant I can get for free, due to skin allergies. Or maybe I don’t like the taste of the pasta sauce that would only cost me $.10. But honestly, most of the time, I don’t discover these type of deals.

I’m just happy to clip my coupons and pair them with circular sales. If I happen to qualify for cash back toward a future order, that’s a bonus. But it’s hard for me to live and breathe extreme couponing, like some folks do.

Different strokes for different folks, as they say.