Extreme Couponing: Extreme Crazy?

Has anyone see TLC’s new show, “Extreme Couponing”?
I have happened to catch it a couple of  times.
I wanted to watch to see if there was anything I could learn about saving money.
And let me tell ya….there’s a few things in that show that made me scratch my head.
Never mind that in Canada our grocery game is a little different.
But I will get to that later.
I love how these ‘extreme couponers’ use little pieces of paper to save so much money.
Saving money always makes sense, right?
But here are a few things that make me wonder.
 Extremely Harmful Products:
I am not a fan of the cleaning products that I see ‘stockpiled’ by extreme couponers on the show that were virtually ‘free’ or purchased at an extreme discount.
I see lots of harmful chemical cleaners that are not good for the environment or for people.
A savings?
 No so much.
Many of those products I would never buy…I want to use safe, environmentally friendly products in my home.
Things that don’t hurt my family.
Or my sweet little dogs.
And if water, soap or vinegar will do….then that’s what I use.
To me…there’s no  money saved in buying poisons to clean your home.
  Extremely Old Products:
Did anyone see the recent episode with the man that proudly showed off a “Toothpaste Room” ?
Yes! “Toothpaste Room”.
This man had stockpiled 1000 tubes of toothpaste.
He had a room devoted to just these 1000 tubes of toothpaste.
He said that they were all free using coupons.
Okay. Let’s do the math on that.
If a family of 4 used 4 tubes of toothpaste a month which equals 48 tubes a year…..then 1000 tubes would be enough to last for……20 years!!
Can you imagine opening a tube of toothpaste from 1991 and using it to brush your teeth?
Um. Extreme Yuck.
If there was a memo sent out about the shelf life of toothpaste being 10+ years or more…I must have missed it.
The expiry date on my toothpaste tube says November 2012…which is next year.
To be fair…the man did use his stockpile to make up 100 care packages for soldiers in the war zone.
The care packages were made up of toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc.
So he was using some of it for a great cause.
However, 100 tubes of toothpaste given away seems to have barely made a dent in the pile.
Extremely Un-Appetizing & Unhealthy Products
I’m sorry….but I don’t find anything appetizing about 200 cans of Chef-Boy-Ardee Ravioli or Spaghettio’s  purchased for next to nothing.
Or 400 cans of soup.
And I saw lots of Cocoa Puffs and other ‘junk’ cereals stockpiled.
We never use canned pasta at our house….we don’t like the taste.
And I seldon buy sugary cereals for my family…we stick to oatmeal & eggs.
 I am sure that many dietitians would discourage the frequent use of these kind of food items due to too much salt, too much sugar,  very little fiber and/or lack of nutritional content.
Again, a great saving that sits on the shelf at home.
But not an extremely appetizing or healthy option for a meal to have on a regular basis.
Extreme Time Commitment
Many of the extreme couponers on the show say that collecting coupons, organizing & sorting coupons, researching sales and creating spreadsheets to maximize coupon savings takes time…one couponer on the show was quoted as saying that she {with 3 children} spent 15 hours a week couponing.
That is a LOT of time.
I can’t see where I could add 15 hours of couponing into my already busy schedule each week.
Which brings me to another question: Is this a hobby? Is this another form of  OCD? Is this an addiction?
Is this another form of hoarding where the hoarding is with new products instead of other things?
Couponing for these people seems to be their whole life.
I want balance in life. 
Sure… I like to save money. But devoting a half hour a week to shopping the sales is fine for me.
I also enjoy spending time with my family.
There is no price or savings on that.
Extreme Coupon Quantities
One Extreme Couponer on the show said that she collected the sales flyers that were left over from routine weekly deliveries…in the area of 1500  leftover flyers a week.
{She spent hours cutting, sorting and organizing the coupons from these 1500 flyers to increase her stockpile of coupons.}
I don’t think it would be easy or practical for the average shopper to secure this kind of quantity of coupons on a weekly basis.
And I am sure that this woman will now have competition for those leftover flyers now that her secret is out.
Canadian vs. American Grocery Shopping
Here in Canada, I don’t know of a grocery store that has double or triple coupon days like I have seen in the US on the ‘Extreme Couponing” show where coupons are worth double or triple their value on certain days.
If there was a store that had a double or triple coupon day, I surely would take advantage of it.
And many of the coupons that I do see in Canada clearly state, “Not to be combined with other offers” or “One per Customer”.
So I am not sure that saving money like any of the U.S. extreme couponers is even possible.
Coupon Stacking In Edmonton
CTV News in Edmonton just ran a segment last night & tonight featuring some ladies in Edmonton who  are into “extreme couponing”.
They use a strategy called ‘coupon stacking’ which is using multiple coupons for the same product to collect an extreme saving.
According to CTV Edmonton, London Drugs and Save-On-Foods are 2 stores that do allow ‘coupon stacking’.
{I am assuming possibly that some other stores do not allow coupon stacking.}
These ladies collect coupons from newspapers, flyers, store coupons and online sites.
The coupons are stored in page protectors in binders and they watch sales carefully to take advantage of ‘coupon stacking’ strategies.
For example….if Colgate toothpaste is $1.99 on sale for $1.59 and three .50 cent off coupons are stacked together…the toothpaste can now be purcahasd for 9 cents.
So, I am just curious….do you think you will be coupon stacking anytime soon?
And…if you have seen the show “Extreme Couponing”, what did you take away from it?
I know that it is “Extreme” just as the title states, but what did you think?
Crazy or smart?
Inquiring minds want to know!

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  1. says

    You have raised some great points, especially the one wondering about the motive behind the collecting. When I watched the show, it seemed as though the people shopped based on coupons not on need. Makes one wonder how much of the "free" stuff gets thrown away?

  2. says

    I watched it last night for the first time and shared a lot of your thoughts. It seems to be some sort of OCD! I can't imagine who in the world has an extra 15 or 20 hours per week to put into it! All those stockpiles made me want to cry – how about DONATE some of that stuff to someone who NEEDS it!? I think saving money is great! If you can save money on MORE than you need, than it's wonderful to be able to share with others who can't. Wow. It's crazy! I think coupons are a great idea, but I can barely keep up with 4 or 5 coupons long enough to use them, much less 4 or 5 hundred!

  3. says

    I have watched the show once or twice and I am shocked how much time and energy these people use to get these so called bargains, how much time is it taking away from there families and friends, let alone all the space they are wasting in there homes. Just imagine if they donated a quarter or a half of the products how many other families that they could be helping.

  4. says

    Hmmm, are you sure it shouldn't be 'insane couponing' instead of extreme couponing? I barely have 15 minutes let alone 15 hours. Even at, say, $15/hr, that's $225…would I get $225 worth of savings?…I look for deals when I'm shopping and if I can substitute no name for brand name, then I do. But that's way too far fetched for me

  5. says

    It would be very nice if the man with hundreds of toothpaste would donate them to make kits for the shelters or send to the soldiers or drop off at a USO (found in airports) for soldiers to have or perhaps send to the Red Cross to help all those that have been affected by the floods and tornadoes. I haven't seen the show but you give some valid points as to just stay"normal" with couponing and balanced with your life.

  6. says

    I was discussing this show with friends recently. I think a lot of people miss the point which is that clever couponing actually leaves the shop owing the person money, so they do their regular shopping with that money (4 coupons each giving 1 dollar off of a 2 dollar product gives you 2 dollars to spend). Two of the shows I've seen showed people giving their extra products to food banks and to overseas soldiers (the toothpaste for example). So in fact the reason they stockpile is that they buy products they won't use to get money to buy the food they actually eat :-)

  7. says

    I am on the east cost in Canada and we never have coupon stacking or doubling. I do think that guy with the room of toothpaste needs an intervention for hording and these products should be donated to a food bank:)

  8. says

    I thought it was crazy! I don't buy all the pre-packaged junk for my family in the first place and second of all – who in the world needs 70 bottles of mustard???? I hoped I would see that these people were making regular donations to their local soup kitchen or something but it does not appear that they are. I think it's just another form of crazy that is getting it's 15 minutes of fame. I feel sorry for the poor checker that has to check them out for an hour and a half : (

  9. says

    I have yet to watch this show (would have to find time when hubby is not around) but it all sounds a little much for me. I am not above using a coupon if I have one but I value my time too much to spend 15-20 hours a week on couponing! I am also a fan of living simply and have no room in my small house for stockpiles (my closets are full after a Costco run)! I would feel absolutely smothered by all that stuff!

  10. says

    I'm all for picking things up on sale and using a coupon whenever I can but only one per product with limits is allowed here. The show is over the top. I agree with other comments, it would be great if the folks donated their free stuff.

  11. says

    this amuses me, b/c i have a post waiting to publish about this very same thing. it made me feel bad about myself that i coupon like a normal person, but that they were saving so much money. but to me, the time is the big thing. 2 hours to checkout. how many hours of shopping translates to 2 hours of checking out. it is ridiculous, and actually, selfish.

  12. says

    Well written, Angie. I didn't know any stores accepted coupon stacking. I saw the show once and that was enough. I have no time to do all that and you are right, I don't usually buy the products they are getting anyway. The stuff I buy rarely has coupons.

  13. says

    It makes my head spin and gives me anxiety. Forget it…i can't be bothered.
    And i thought the same thing about the toothpaste!
    If coupons come in the mail it is always for things i do not use.
    Face it the diets of many Americans is really bad …how many shows have we seen on this.
    I am a big lover of vinegar and baking soda for cleaning! NOw i have to get my husband off the harmful stuff for cleaning the bathrooms…yes he cleans the bathrooms lol !

    Pamela xo

  14. says

    No doubt smart….but definitely bordering OCD and crazy town! Who the heck wants to spend all that time and I don't have the storage capabilities if I did.

    I don't know of a single store around here (in the U.S.) that does that double triple coupon thing, of course I don't really look either…and I'm in agreement with you that every single coupon I see says, "limit one"….so I am baffled as well.

    I hate collecting coupons anyway. I cut them out and leave them at home, or lose them. :( I'm also not a fan of those little plastic store "savings" cards that everyone has now. I love the ones that go off your phone # so you don't have to carry a wallet full of extra plastic around.

  15. says

    Well…I have been a bit intrigued, and have started collecting, and using a lot more coupons than I ever did before. Just this week I got 2 free boxes of Vector cereal…with coupons on those… for banana's, and yogurt. Free on free! Those are healthy items that I normally buy. The cost of feeding a family of 5 is pretty high, so I'm happy to save money when I can. The show is "extreme" for sure….but I've been having fun collecting some things and scoring a few good deals. A good website for Canadian's…..www.mrs.january.com

  16. says

    you sure hit it in the button girl! I work in a grocery store in AZ, USA. And yes, we have several 'extreme couponers'.. and yes, they do exactly what you say! I too, wonder at the …ummm… 'interesting' things they buy! Yes, they stack. Our store has 'rules' that get broken by the store itself…so ummm… we cashiers, often are not too sure exactly what we are to do… but… we keep the customer 'happy'! I had to laugh at your comments… I so WISH you lived near me, so we could talk for real! Not just about that… but all the things we do! I use coupons… but I don't go out of my way… and luckily, my store sends me coupons for items we actually buy. Any others I toss! I wondered how much time they really spent at it, 'cause they can be in the store for HOURS! Me, I'd rather be decorating!

  17. says

    I have never seen the show but I will lookout for it. I should cut and find coupons but I never do.
    Great points.
    Have a great week

  18. says

    i was horrified by this show when i saw it. i do think there is as certain sickness at heart–some kind of control issues maybe? but really, who needs 500 boxes of pasta stockpiled??
    i rarely find coupons for the products i want to feed my family so i will not be extreme couponing anytime soon!

  19. says

    I have watched a few times. Guess I caught some better ones. One mom passed a bunch of the stuff to her daughter and family..a gift. Another viewed it as a part time job and very necessary for her famiy in a financial bind. They had more than 2 kids. One guy just took stuff directly to the homeless shelter and other places like that to give them. His cereal was Total. Still…hoarding and really ,how much do you save? Enough to buy all those shelves? I don't use that many because we would not use or eat many of the items but I do love the savings!

  20. says

    I am a couponer but not the "extreme" kind. And I don't buy a bunch of the unhealthy junk that these people do. In the US I find my best deals at Target and Walgreens where you can stack one manufacturers coupon with one store coupon per item. We only have one double coupon store here in Tulsa where I live and I hardly ever go there. It should not consume your life and these people should be giving this stuff away to food shelves like crazy!!!! While I use coupons fairly often, I don't get the extreme deals like these people. Nor do I wish to be "consumed" with that kind of hoarding. There are lots of organic coupons out there. But I am a fan of making my own cleaning supplies and growing my own garden which saves me just as much money and gives the healthier option. I think that would be a great post to send to TLC!!

  21. says

    Here was my "extreme" haha, deal yesterday. I had a $5 Register Reward (like a store credit) from Walgreens. I used it to buy 4 sticks of deodorant for my husband. They were on sale for 2 for $3. I used Four $1/1 coupons for that. Then I purchased 4 boxes of Kleenex which were Buy One Get One Free. My total after coupons and sales was $7.48 and after I used my Register Reward. I paid $2.48. If I just walked in there and picked up the same items without coupons, it would've cost me $21.62. And we will use all the stuff in the next 6 months of less :))

  22. says

    I'm in Central Texas and I haven't seen a store that doubles or triples coupons in at least ten years. My problem with this type of couponing is that it seems that someone has to pay for all these freebies and it's usually the average consumer. How much markup do the companies need to add to cover the costs of extreme couponing? I'm all for being frugal and smart with my money – I've even used coupons myself for items I legitimately need and use, but extreme couponing seems a little greedy to me.

  23. says

    Extreme couponing is just as it says…EXTREME! Anything in life can be taken to the extreme. I do the coupons in bulk purchases that works for my family. I have saved a lot of money and we always have what we need on hand so I don't have to pay full price when we run out. HOWEVER, I only buy what we can use in a certain length of time. Otherwise, it becomes HOARDING!

    I follow the Krazy Coupon Lady's blog which shows that normal people do donate things when they have more than they need which is a wonderful thing. She declined to be on the show more than once because she felt it was giving the message that you can save that much every time you go to the store. That doesn't happen.

    Time…it does take a lot of time. I am getting better at it so it is less than it was but I look at it as my time is saving us money. It is a personal choice. I probably put in 4 hours per week right now but I work part time with teenage boys to feed! lol

    I agree with a lot of your statements and wish they would do a "real life" show about it but ratings are better when it is "extreme".

    Thanks for listening and have a great holiday weekend!

  24. says

    When I first became a stay at home mom I started collecting coupons and trying to save money from them, but there were rarely coupons for things we buy and most of the ones I used had no doubling on them etc. Also it seems like the coupons are for the same things all the time. We have a grocery that doubles and triples up to a small amount. And another one that matches any other store ads. (in the south) I've been stuck in line behind some of those and it is not fun waiting around but I guess they are saving bundles by tracking it all. Sometimes I think I should try a little harder to save money–but I don't even clip coupons anymore! I can see how it can be some sort of OCD thing too. It does seem wasteful.

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