Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extreme Couponing - saving money or hoarding?

I've been watching Extreme Couponing on TLC. As much as I can't stand watching what these people do, I also can't pry myself away from the TV. It's like a train wreck. These people spend hours planning their trips to the grocery store. They have stacks of coupons, file systems, computers and shelves in every room to store their hauls, which once they get them home are called "stock piles." Why someone needs 1000 tubes of Colgate toothpaste is beyond me. But hey, they were all free so why not take them home right? This guy made no mention of donating them to a food bank. sigh Even if he had a huge family and went through one tube a day, it would still take almost three years to use them all. Does toothpaste even last that long? Ick. The sad part is the guy got even more toothpaste on the shopping trip that TLC filmed. He donated it to our troops. Why didn't he just donate from his own stockpile?

Then there's the mustard lady. This woman needs to get her priorities straight. She bought 67 bottles of mustard. She cleared the shelf because they were on sale and she had coupons. We wouldn't want to be considerate and leave something for the next customer. Eye roll. The real kicker is - well, actually there's more than one kicker. The first is that her husband told her he doesn't like mustard. She just giggled, looked at the camera and said "I keep forgetting that." Duh. The second thing is she didn't get the 67 bottles for free, she paid .37 each for them! That comes to almost $25 for freaking mustard that she doesn't need! There's also allegations of coupon fraud regarding this woman. You can read about it here and here.

I could go on and on about the hours wasted spent planning a shopping trip and the extreme stockpiling. When every waking moment is spent combing over flyers, coupon inserts, computer databases and spreadsheets, maybe it's less about saving money and more of an obsession. When your stockpile takes over every room of your house, when you're storing toilet paper under your kid's bed, when the shower is filled with paper towels, when the garage is filled with more toothpaste than you'll ever need, when you have a stockpile of cat treats but you don't own a cat, when you own more than 50 bottles of laundry detergent but you keep getting more - maybe it's becoming a little bit of a problem. Because really, if you have that much stockpiled, why continue shopping? Is it because you have nothing better to do?

Speaking of coupon inserts, where do these people get their stockpiles of inserts? The mustard lady claimed that the newspaper carrier dropped the extras off at her house. Another lady wouldn't reveal her source, probably because she knows it's illegal. There are contracts in place between advertisers and newspapers. All inserts need to be accounted for and any leftovers are shredded and recycled. Leftover inserts are not supposed to be sold or given away for free, period. You can read a short explanation here.

I realize TLC's Extreme Couponing is hyped up for ratings. All of the couponers say it's their biggest shopping trip. That may be true, but their stockpiles tell me otherwise. Maybe they don't normally buy $1,000 worth of groceries for $10, but based on what their homes look like, they're buying in extreme quantities and hoarding their purchases.

What really aggravates me are the shelf clearers. Just this morning I wanted to buy Swiffer's furniture polish (the exact name escapes me at the moment). I have one little coupon that expires on April 30. It's a buy one get one free so it's a decent coupon. I'm not being greedy. I only want two cans. Two cans would last me forever. Yet when I tried to buy some this morning the shelf was cleared of that one item. Grrrr. My daughter blamed Extreme Couponing. ha! At least there's 9 days before the coupon expires and I can try again next week.

I prefer not to do extreme couponing. I like having a life that doesn't involve eating, breathing and dreaming about coupons. That would drive me insane. I follow a few coupon sites on Facebook but I don't print out everything they list. My local grocery store won't accept most internet coupons but Walmart does. I considered it a successful shopping trip this morning when I brought my total down from $71.72 to $64.48 with coupons. It would have been even better had I been able to buy the Swiffer furniture polish! That was at Walmart and I used only $1.00 & $2.00 coupons.

Check out the coupon sites I follow on Facebook:
Wicked Cool Deals (my favorite because they're local to me)
Hey It's Free
Common Sense with Money

So what do you think of extreme couponing? Is it a money saver or wasteful?


Diana Joy said...

Oh boy......I ditto everything you said. It's like an obsession to some...scares me.

Claypigeon46 said...

I agree with what you say! I too watched the show, much like slowing down to look at an accident...made me feel icky. But what struck me was her stuffing all that toilet paper under the bed of her 2 year old child. If, God forbid, there was even a minor fire in her home she has set her child up in a trap. All that paper would burn so fast, and its doubtful that a child that age could escape. Why even take that chance. If she feels so compelled to hoard all this stuff, put something that won't burn under her sleeping baby!

Judy said...

Wow Claypigeon, you've brought up a very good point!

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