Extreme couponing is something that a lot of people have heard about, but haven’t really tried on their own. That’s because it’s more than just clipping a few coupons, heading to the store to pick out a few items, and saving a few dollars on the final bill. It takes so much dedication to be a full-time extreme couponer that some people call it a full-time job. It’s not only very time consuming, but in some cases, it also takes up a good portion of one's life. But is it really worth it? That’s what fans want to know.
Viewers have been tuning in to TLC’s Extreme Couponing for the last several seasons, and while a lot of the episodes go in-depth when it comes to how much work it takes to save money, there are still so many questions that fans have. The planning, the organization, and the shopping are just three small parts of it.
With that being said, here are 20 things about Extreme Couponing that simply doesn’t make sense to the show’s fans. You might save on hundreds of products, but you might end up losing on so much more. Take a look at our list below and let us know what you think!
When you watch a show like Extreme Couponing on TLC, you can’t help but wonder why the show is full of females that are the ones saving all the money. The husbands and the partners seem to be the supportive characters in the series. Why is that? Do men have no interest in saving money? Of course they do, as the show does highlight a few men who like to get the most bang out of their buck. As one contestant named Cole from season one likes to put it, “While most guys are out chasing girls my age, I'm chasing deals.” And just to think, he’s only 17.
Let’s be honest here, does anyone really need over 100 packets of ramen noodles in their house at any given time? Yeah, we didn’t think so either. After eating your third, fourth or fifth ramen noodles for dinner night after night, there’s a good chance that you’ll get sick of it. Sure, it might have been on sale, but why buy something that you’ll only end up forcing yourself to eat later on? For a lot of families, it just doesn’t make sense. Plus, can you imagine having to listen to your kids complain about eating the same dinner night after night? Yeah, it wouldn’t sound like music to our ears, either.
A lot of people have called this show a selfish picture of what society looks like right now. People only care about how much they can consume, what their purchasing power looks like, and what can benefit them, only. As a matter of fact, with all of the hundreds of stocked items inside these show participants homes, one can only wonder if they ever donate some of their purchases. I mean, having 200 packs of toilet paper is great (especially if you are expecting an apocalypse or a toilet paper shortage), but there other people out there that are in serious need of some very basic things.
Another thing that makes couponing so difficult for the average mom is that there is no way you can bring your kids on an average trip to the grocery store anymore. It’s almost impossible to find everything that you need, match it to your list, and apply your coupons with your kids in tow. Something unnecessary is bound to happen, as there’s a very strong possibility that mama will end up having a meltdown before her child does! So with that said, there’s a very good chance that these moms might have to hire babysitters in order to take care of their kids while they are couponing. Where is the savings in that? You might save some at the grocery store, but you end up spending elsewhere.
Sure, it’s a great thing that you’ve saved hundreds—and maybe even thousands—of dollars in your weekly grocery bill, but where in the world are you going to store all of your purchases? Some families might have to consider getting a second home just for their groceries and household items! Sure, you saved a bunch of money, but that monthly storage bill is going to take a huge chuck out of your budget. Plus, the organizing, the shelving, and making sure that you use the products before the expiration date takes up a lot of time, too. We just don’t see the sense in it.
Let’s face it: most of the items on sale are pre-packaged products and not something that a healthy-conscious mother would want to feed her kids. As a matter of fact, a lot of the things that many of the show’s participants buy just don’t look healthy at all. The sports drinks are full of sugar and empty calories while many of the premade dinners are nothing but junk and preservatives. Gross! Are you really doing your family a favor by saving money on food, but then spending more on their medical bills later on? Yeah, we didn’t think so either.
Like we mentioned above, it’s very easy to get sick of eating the same thing over and over again (with the one exception being avocados, of course). I mean, as much as kids love their Pringles, pretzels, and popcorn, but there’s only so much you can eat in one week, right? When you coupon, there’s just no variety. There are also no sales on all of the cool new items that your family members are more likely wanting to try. Also, only certain brands make it to the coupon pages, meaning that you are definitely missing out on a whole new world of food and flavors out there.
Another negative aspect of couponing is that there’s simply no bargains on healthy food. Now, if you are a parent that wants to raise his or her children right, this might be a problem. If you want your child to eat fruits and vegetables, couponing is just not for you. And let’s face it, whatever money you might be saving at the grocery store, there’s a very good chance that you will end up paying for it in hospital bills. Does it make sense? Not really. A lot of moms would rather stick with their fruits and veggies, no matter what the prices are.
Another thing that many Extreme Couponing fans have noticed is that the same items are always on sale, week after week. That means you don’t get to try any of the new products and more often than not, you are stuck eating the same flavors, too. There’s just simply no fun in that! While a lot of people out there are completely obsessed with couponing, no one ever talks about their own, personal satisfaction when it comes to the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners they have to eat. I mean, who can stomach 25 sports drinks, eight packets of shrimp noodles, along with all of the rice, yogurts, breads, and deli meats in the same flavors?
Are you really saving money in your monthly budget when you are forced to buy items that you really don’t need? For a lot of people who watch the show, it just doesn’t make sense. But for some Extreme Coupon people out there, they make it work. Just take a man named Nathan, for example. Nathan only paid sales tax on this massive toothpaste collection and ended up bringing 1,000 tubes home from a shopping trip (we are sure his dentist is proud). Now, who doesn’t need toothpaste? Everyday items that don’t have an expiration date should definitely be a high priority when couponing.
Wouldn’t it be just easier to get a full-time job than spend 50 to 60 hours a week trying to save couponing? Well, it depends on who you ask. Mary Potter Kenyon's Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession, puts it this way, “Despite their inherent messiness, consumers aren’t about to give up on a mode of savings that is so much under their control. After all, the price savings from a coupon is guaranteed to go directly to the consumer using it. A coupon can allow a consumer to purchase brand-name products at the same, or sometimes even a lower price, than a store brand. And only the coupon-using consumer obtains those benefits.”
When you spend so much time couponing, it definitely takes away from whatever free time you have with your family. We can only imagine how many of the dads feel in these situations. Luckily, many extreme couponers have learned how to clip, cut and save with efficient speed so much so we’re surprised it’s not an Olympic sport. Potter Kenyon also writes, “I learned to swiftly tear the proof of purchase off in a stealth maneuver I’d refined with practice: pushing the stroller up close to the box, bending down as if tying my shoe, and ripping off the qualifier, all in less than thirty seconds.”
For a lot of families out there, trying to save money on a big party or celebration definitely helps, especially when there isn’t much of a budget. But can you realistically throw a party with just a $100 budget? According to the show, yes you can. You can also save hundreds of dollars on gifts! During season two, Amy budgeted just $10 for each shopping trip that she went on. During the last Valentine's Day, her husband surprised her with a new three-inch coupon binder. The couple that saves together, stays together, right? Nothing says "I love you" more than supporting one’s coupon obsession.
Truth be told, couponing is definitely not for the weak, or the out of shape for that matter! You have to not only be sharp as a tack, but you also have to be able to run through the grocery store without getting tired (after all, time is money!). Plus, you have to be mentally strong and know your numbers! Couponing has been in season one’s Jeff's family for 75 years. It's certainly one way to get in math lessons. "In my brain, there's little guys working," he said on the show. "And once I see a coupon, they have a little party."
Let’s face it, just like Walkmans, DVD players, and first generation iPods, couponing is not going to be around forever. Retailers are going to find another way to cash in on their products. And while shopping for a bargain will never go out of style, we can only wonder what will happen when the coupons run out. For some families, it truly is their only means of survival. Just take season one’s April. During the show, she revealed that she has six kids, home-schools five of them, and still makes it to the supermarket six days a week. "It's definitely an obsession," she says. "If I lose savings, I can't sleep at night."
Here’s something else that a lot of viewers can’t help but wonder: are the couponers acting selfish? After all, they are buying all of their products for their own personal use. You would think that some of them would donate their unwanted (and even free) items to those who need it, but you don’t see that happen very often, if not at all. While couponing has truly become an obsession in the US, a lot of people also point out that it’s made a lot of people greedy. They are not only obsessed with deals and saving money, but shopping and buying as much as possible.
Just because something is free, that doesn’t mean that you need it, or even want it for that matter. More often than not, freebies really aren’t all that desirable. What’s the sense of bringing home something that you know you will end up tossing in the trash later on? During season one, Angelique, who was pregnant, spent the last days of her pregnancy stockpiling on 30 cent bags of chips. Sure, everyone likes to munch on a bag of Doritos during their Netflix and chill night, but could you imagine doing that every night before the bags expired? That would make us sick.
A lot of the Extreme Coupon participants argue that they are doing all of the work it takes to save on groceries because they want to benefit their families. But little by little, it becomes a hoarding problem. Sure, you might be saving anywhere from $20 to $100 during the beginning of your couponing journey, but if you are trying to fit in thousands of dollars worth of products in your small closet space at home, you are hoarding it. According to season one, a radio personality by the name of Scott said he and his family were so proud of his bunker of coupon treasures that his wife finds him down there at night, "just staring," at it.
When you coupon, don’t expect for it to take up just a little bit of your time during a weekend afternoon. Nope. It’s seriously a full-time job with a lot of overtime hours. And let’s be real here, time isn’t free, either. A lot of full-time coupon addicts will admit that it is a very time-consuming process. Your entire life revolves around what you save and the savings that you miss out on. During season one, mother of three Kelly admitted that she sometimes stays up till 2 am before shopping trips thinking about them. "I lie awake at night tossing and turning afraid that I'm gonna miss out on deals," she says.
For many people all across the US, it’s also become an obsession. People tend to neglect their families over their couponing. Some people even see relationships and lives torn apart just because they put couponing as a priority over everything else. And then there are those who are in complete denial over everything. On the show, Judy called herself the "couponator." She has stockpiled 120 rolls of paper towels. "As soon as somebody takes this bad boy, I must replace it," she says. "I don't need to go to [therapy] for coupons. I'm doing just fine. You're the one who has the problem."
Source: TLC, People Magazine