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.

9 comments to Discussion: TLC’s Extreme Couponing

  • I was obsessed with these stories when I watched the show! At first I was jealous but then I was looking at what they were buying and most of it was boxed, processed, etc. I never buy soda for myself, along with a lot of the other items they were stockpiling on. Sure, some of it would be nice to save more on but it seems like the people on the show were just wasting a lot of time and energy.

    • Penny

      @Christine: That’s another consideration — like you, I don’t buy a lot of processed/boxed foods. I tend to make most of our meals from scratch, so there isn’t much savings to be had in our grocery budget.

  • As with anything, the lack of balance here is no good. Sure you’re saving a lot of money, but at the expense of your time, space, and sanity.

  • Liz Greeley

    I just dropped an extra $100 on the Shoprite Can Can sale. My first thought was guilt because I spent $100 more than I usually spend on groceries in a month. However, when I look back to the things I purchased, such as 12 cans of name brand Crushed Tomatoes for $7.99 that normally cost me $1.79 for ONE can, I don’t feel so bad because I purchased items that I DO use. Many of these people get these items for the sale’s sake and not for actually using these items. I too, have fallen for this trap…getting something on sale merely because it’s on sale. I have grown wise to this and ask myself “Do I really need this?” Most of the time the answer is ‘no.’

    When purchasing groceries, on sale or not, I now think of the recipes I tend to make and ask myself whether or not the item will fit into my ‘palette’ of food. If they don’t, I don’t buy them. As for things like toilet paper, if you see a good sale, go for it. It won’t go bad and you can never have enough TP! 🙂

    • Penny

      @Liz: I bought that same case of Tuttorosso tomatoes this week 😉 But you and I know we’ll use them before they expire, and don’t already have 10 cases of them in the house. I also stocked up on Coke Zero, too.

  • I’m a little skeptical of this. Atleast for me this won’t work.

    I do use coupons, but only where it makes sense and it is practical.

  • What was that website/blog with the guy who would went like a year eating decently (or at least a 1-3 months) on something like $100.00? How is it I can’t get out of the supermarket for cheaper than like $50.00 and all I have is like milk and eggs? Maybe I need some more extreme couponing.

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