Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extreme Couponing....What Do You Think?

Dearest Readers,

Like so many of you, the stewardship of my family's budget is one of my primary responsibilities.  I take great care to watch the pennies, along with the dollars that are spent each month.  I purpose each time I shop to purchase items that are necessary, well-made and at the best possible price.

There is a new show on TLC called "Extreme Couponing" can guess that this is a show about people using coupons to receive enormous discounts when they shop. What you might not know is that this show has stirred up a great amount of controversy! 

I do use coupons (and discounts), not only for groceries, but for clothing, hardware, gardening, entertainment and restaurants. But as this show is about extreme grocery shopping, I will keep my thoughts focused in that direction.

In recent years, my grocery store (King Soopers) sends me coupons based on my shopping.  Therefore, I now receive coupons for things like flour, meat, cheese and even milk.  In addition, I use the inserts in the paper along with "Catalinas" (those are the coupons printed at the register when you check out) and my rewards card. I average savings between 20 and 68 percent.  I also buy some of our groceries at Costco and will occasionally take advantage of a sale and in-store coupons at SuperTarget.

As you may know from my series Providing for the Pantry, I keep a Winter Menu and Summer Menu., as I have done this for years, I could shop for my pantry blindfolded!  By having a menu plan I can accurately predict just how many jars, boxes, ounces or pounds of any given item I might need for each season or the entire year.  Because I shop from my pantry first, I can use the bulk of my monthly grocery budget to stock-up and buy fresh produce and milk. 

I don't shop just to shop.  I don't use a coupon just because I have one for items I don't need. 

With all of that said, I can honestly say that I just don't care for this show.  It seems to me that this is a show about obsessive (rationalized because they are "saving" money) shopping and compulsive (albeit organized) hoarding.  There, I said it.

One woman bought 62 bottles of mustard, one 112 bottles of overnight pain relievers, one gal had a 2 year supply of disposable diapers....she did not even have children....I could go on and on. A few of the participants have mentioned that they donate to food banks, local churches and our troops.  But even that noble act pales in comparison with the hoards (these folks have gone way beyond a stock pantry, trust me) of food, toiletries and sundry items that are stocked in these homes.

Participants are proud that their homes resemble mini-marts and delight in showing the audience shelves filled to over-flowing in basements, garages, and additions built onto their houses just for their hoard(are you kidding me?). One lady has 1400 rolls of toilet paper stuffed under her toddler's bed and a tower of canned goods in her children's playroom.  Again, I could go on ad nauseam.

There is now an investigation underway against one participant for fraudulent coupon use and retailers are already changing their attitudes and policies towards coupons and discounts.  What a shame that a few bad examples will now spoil a frugal necessity for the rest of us.

It is disappointing that TLC didn't use this opportunity to create a show that was about practical budgeting, menu planning and coupon practices that would be a blessing to many of us in these difficult financial times.  Instead they created a show about nothing except gluttonous consumerism.

I don't think it is a coincidence that this shows airs along with "Hoarding, Buried Alive".

What are your thoughts on this show?

Yours kindredly,
Honey Hill Farm


Heritage Farmgirl said...

Shan I don't have a TV but the lady here in the village who runs the bulk store told me about it. Here in Canada we don't have coupon deals like you do in the States. Yes we have coupon's, but not double deals and store valued ones. But I agree with you on the hoarding of items. It would seem these people don't have any idea on how to be frugal. In fact bet you that can't keep their bodies out of a store, day in and day out. Probably spending all the time. No thank you! groceries is torture enough once a week.You have written a very good argument here. They should teach people how to value what they shop for, but my guess is people wouldn't watch it. Seems extreme is a money maker for TV.

Zucchinimom said...

I quite agree. Most coupons are for items I don't even buy. These extreme couponers are hoarders...who needs a basement full of toilet paper or deodorant?? Preparedness and hoarding are two different things. A hundred tubes of toothpaste isn't going to feed my family through hard times...nor is a ton of ketchup worth it either. Teaching the value of a dollar...there's a show idea!

Anonymous said...

Most of the items one can get free with coupons are of no interest to me. I do better watching the store's sales and stocking up reasonably when the prices are good.
I hate it when something I purchased spoils or degrades before it's used up. What a waste, even if it was free! With the kind of purchasing that's apparently featured on that show, it must happen a lot! Besides, most manufacurer copupons are for chemical laden products. My family tries to avoid fake food for the most part, and the store brands of other items are usually as good as the name brands. And who has room for all of that stuff anyway???

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

I love that show! Because I get to sit there and say...I don't get it. I have always used coupons for things we need. But to buy thousands of diapers when you don't even have any children just because you get them free??? And why not donate if you could to someone who needs it? I do believe it is a form of hoarding. The other issue they never really go into is that they are paying money for the multitude of the same coupon. That should enter into the final numbers. Oh well, it is fun to watch I think.

Sandra said...

I've never heard of that show, but I know I wouldn't be buying things like that if I didn't need them. I don't even use coupons. I don't subscribe to any magazines and I have a friend who gets the Sunday paper, but when she gives me the coupon section, I MIGHT find one thing! We don't buy box macaroni and cheese or cereal, and the things I do use name brand of like Dawn, I never see coupons for. My mother in law was a hoarder and she would do this kind of shopping and just pile it up and brag about the cheap prices and how much she got, but it was all wasted.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I haven't seen it but I saw a show where they showed excerpts. That's what the people on that show said, that these were compulsive people who actually have an illness.

It makes people who use coupons rationally look bad. I have read that since the show has been on TV, some manufacturers are going to change the way coupons can be used.

I do use coupons but also only for items I'm going to buy, anyway. My daughter used to take advantage of the great CVS deals to purchase for her church's food pantry. I don't think she has time these days with five kids. :)

Mae said...

I use coupons and believe that you can find coupons for anything, not just processed junk food, however how can you justify 60 hours a week on clipping coupons. Or buying 200 bottles of shampoo and conditioner. The best I can figure is 24 bottles of shampoo would last me about 4 years. Would it still be good 4 years from now. If you bought 200 bottles of shampoo to donate that would be a blessing to people who need it, but what good is it doing sitting on a shelf in your garage. I have to confess that I agree CeeKay, I do love to watch it, it's kinda of like looking at a train wreck, you can't help but look. It is a definite problem when you turn down time with your friends & family just because you have to go get 30 things of deodorant that you don't need and will probably never use. And I know our stores here are changing their coupon policies and I think it's because of that show. So sad.

Michele said...

I'm with Mae on the train wreck aspect, because I really, really, don't get it. They've shown the woman buying all that mustard, multiple bottles of antacid, all the deodorant on the shelf and many incidents like that, but I don't see anyone buying vegetables, meat, fruit, and varied foods to fix meals with for the next week or more. Last year there were several coupons for bagged salads and greens and one time a coupon for a type of melon, but really, on food ingredients there just aren't that many that I see here. Plus, on the show they do things that aren't policy where I live, like double coupons for more than .50 cents so some items the store gives the buyer cash back for; that's not an option for me. Which wouldn't matter because really, who wants to live in a house that's nothing but shelves of non-perishable stuff? I want our house to be attractive and inviting; to that end I switch things around according to seasons and holidays to make it look nice. Steel shelving filled with cereal and paper towels is not my idea of decor!

Anonymous said...

i do not use coupons and i can't stand most of the reality shows. i think people should watch far less t.v. these days and read more classic books. :)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I watched that show too. It was very interesting.

I think the lady revealed a lot about herself when she purchased all that cat food with out owning a cat. It's not about saving money, it's a game or mental problem.

I do like the idea of having a stocked pantry for seasons or even for the year. This is why I love your blog. You give me a lot of information that's useful and reasonable. Thanks so much for that. Keep up that great work, it's more helpful than you will ever know. I look forward to more!!

Anonymous said...

I saw it last night, and a young couple who are in ministry used it to help out a local food bank.He invested his time to carefully select things that the food bank needed and then donated it all. I believe that is a wonderful thing that maybe the rest of us could do as well who don't have the extra money to donate, but could coupon to get items to donate.