I am an avid fan of couponing which has helped to slash my grocery bill for my family of eight considerably. I was excited and apprehensive to see the new series “Extreme Couponing” when it first aired. I was excited because it relates to something I am very interested in, but apprehensive because all of the news coverage I have seen on couponing does not show the whole picture. You will not always be able to get the deals that you see on TV. I am mostly turned off by the fact that these shows never explain that the coupons, sales, and store policies vary from region to region. Unless you are one of the geographically lucky ones, you will virtually never accomplish the savings you are being shown.
Since I missed the special that was aired in December, I found myself on the TLC website this morning viewing video clips. I started reading some of the comments being made, and I was mortified that these people who had the courage to let the cameras into their homes and lives were being called hoarders who needed psychiatric help. They were also accused of trying to beat the system. Obviously, the viewers who were making these comments are not aware of the big picture.
Most people who would consider themselves extreme when it comes to their coupon use will share the wealth. They will share their great deals with friends and family as well as donate to local charities. A woman who lives just around the corner from me stockpiles when she finds a great deal and sales her items at garage sales at a fraction of the retail price. The massive amounts of food that is acquired will not just sit on a shelf at their home until it expires.
There is a very important detail that the TV show is not making clear to the viewer. In order to have a show, there has to be something to record. The people chosen to be featured needed to have a massive amount of goods for the camera crew to film. If they didn’t, the show would simply be people telling their stories about what they have been able to purchase without any proof. It wouldn’t exactly be conducive to ratings. This translates into the show’s stars having to put off donating until after filming is completed. It doesn’t mean they are hoarding.
A man featured on the show by the name of Nathan donated a large quantity of items to the US military, but instead of praise for his patriotic support, readers suggested he receive professional help for his psychiatric disorders. Jessica who has a budget of $160 a month to feed her family as well as buying other necessities like toiletries received comments about food expiration dates. Viewers commented that her food would expire before her family could it which would make her family sick. She had approximately 60-70 boxes of cereal that I saw. Cereal usually has an expiration date of about one year from purchase. Six people eating cereal on a regular basis would easily go through that many boxes in under a year.
Coupon shoppers are not trying to beat the system; they are merely using the system. Millions of people are missing out because they choose not to use coupons. A shopper can easily save $5 a week just by using coupons out of the most recent Sunday newspaper without putting any effort into finding a good deal or comparing sales. That adds up to $260 a year. It would be like a free car payment for some people. Most extreme couponers are born out of necessity. A job loss forces the family to make tremendous cuts to their lifestyle. Using coupons combined with sales, store reward cards, and price matching can be a lifesaver to some.
I’m a full time student, mother, and I work from home. My husband was always the breadwinner. When his job ended, he had a difficult time finding a job at all much less a job with comparable pay. He now works two jobs and still only makes a small fraction of what he used to make. If I find a good sale that combined with coupons can allow me to purchase deodorant for 20 cents each, you can be certain that I’m going to buy as many as I can to stock up. Does buying twenty bottles of deodorant or any other great sale item make me a hoarder? No, it means that I’m a smart shopper.