Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Mentionables: Extreme Couponing

Does anyone else watch the show Extreme Couponing with a combination of awe and apprehension? Do you know what it is? It's a reality sort-of show that highlights extreme couponers - those people (actually, all women on the shows I've seen, no men - and I think there's a reason for this) who clip coupons, file coupons, compare sale flyers, and then bring their coupons/laptops/spread sheets to the grocery store where they emerge some 3-5 hours later having just scored $1,000 worth of groceries for something like $1.75.

Impressive? Absoutely. A little terrifying? At times, because these women are obsessive about matching up their coupons with deals and then either buying things they would never use (and then donating them to the needy, I guess), or stockpiling things they probably will never get through. The "stockpile" is the pride and joy of these women: usually a closet, sometimes a separate room altogether, filled with everything they've scored free or almost free. And yes, I admit I'm a little jealous, considering I spend over $100 almost every week on groceries. But I'm not sure I could break down and buy 25 deodorants just because they're .10 each, or 100 packets of dried noodles because they're .15 each. What on earth will one family do with 150 boxes of cereal? Or four shelves filled with hand soap?

This is where I think the extreme couponers border on hoarding. I really do. It becomes more about the deal than about buying things you need and will use. I think, honestly, having a huge stockpile, whether or not you use it, makes some people feel very secure, and maybe rightly so. But still. I do find it a little odd.

Here's the other thing: do these people buy produce or meat? I can't believe so, at least not on the show. Because those things are NEVER on sale with a coupon. And finally, with absoutely no disrespect to those people who are racking up 98% savings when they shop, not one person featured on the show has a full-time job. These women say they spend up to 30 hours a week clipping coupons and scoping out sales, and I believe it. But there's no way I would ever have time for that! (Thus my opinion as to why no men are featured on the show: they're out working 40+ hours a week while the women are home with the kids and the coupons).

OK, this post had nothing to do with writing. But I do find this relatively new fad of "extreme couponing" quite interesting. Thoughts?


Marianne Arkins said...

Okay ... I watch it. And I also coupon. But: I don't buy sixty newspapers, or beg coupons from my neighbors. I usually end up with four or five coupon flyers.

I DO buy four or five deodorants, or toothpastes or hand soaps when they're on sale (recently Carefee pantyliners were free after coupon and I had somehow ended up with a ton of coupons ... I may never have to buy those again as long as I live).

I have a stockpile of sorts -- a pretty big one. No, I don't have two hundred toothpastes, but I have a lot. I don't think of it as hoarding. I think of it as being prepared, and being smart.

I DO think most of those folks do go overboard though.

RE: produce, meat, etc. -- recently there was a EX show that told how one lady uses her "overage" (when a coupon actually earns you money) to purchase those things. I have yet to figure out how to coupon efficiently at the grocery store though. Most of my deals come from places like Walgreens, RiteAid and CVS. Occasionally from Target and WalMart, and almost never on food (with the exception of cereal).

Allie Boniface said...

I'm so glad you stopped by, M! I do think couponing can be useful/helpful/thrifty - I'm just amazed at the lengths some people go to!!

Mom said...

I used to be a pretty regular coupon clipper when I had a husband and kids to feed. However after a while I realized running from store to store for the best deal was time consuming and fairly boring so I scaled back. Now I hardly look at the coupons; don't fit my lifestyle as most of what I eat is fresh produce, fish and breads.
I did have a friend however, who could be described as a "hoarder," as she had multiple cans of soups, pasta sauce, etc. etc. in her cupboard. This collection was either giving her a sense of security or she had no idea what was in the bowels of her pantry!