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Extreme Couponing

I know several of our readers are pro-couponing and couldn’t meet their needs without them. Personally I look for coupons and try to use them occasional. I really got into CVS extra care bucks for a while to help me stock up on diapers before my first son was born. But I think there is a line between healthy couponing and crazy…

With the return of TLC’s Extreme Couponing series, I think it is time for me to vent my frustrations with the extreme couponing craze.

1.) Everything has an expiration date: The thing that bugs me the most is all of the waste. Is it even possible to use 70 containers of mustard in a lifetime? When I was on hospital bed rest, I remember an episode where a man claimed to have enough deodorant to last a lifetime. All of these items have expiration dates! Just because it is not a food item does not mean you need to have hundreds even if they are free! A few years ago I had the opportunity to go help with Hurricane Katrina clean up. Seeing suburban houses, just like the one I grew up in, and all of their contents destroyed really changed my outlook on what was necessary to keep. I can’t imagine if one of these homes that we went to help clean out had been the home of an extreme couponer.

2.) When your coupon deals are taking over your house, you need an intervention, not a high five: Most of the people on this show are really hoarders. Many of us know from personal experience that snagging a awesome deal can give you a high. However, when your prizes start filling up entire rooms in your house to the point that you’ve got a stock room set up in your bedroom, there is a problem. I can’t imagine a utility shelf full of paper towels and hand soap is going to help set the mood, unless your spouse is into role playing grocery store.

I was particularly concerned with the woman who was obsessed with making sure she looked good when she shopped, God forbid anyone think she was poor! She may have looked good buying $2000 worth of grocery’s for $100, but I think it revealed that she needs some professional counseling.

3.) Couponing is time consuming and costly: I think coupons are a great and wonderful thing, however it is important to remember that there is a strategy behind companies offering coupons for their products. Believe it or not, they do NOT want to give you a bunch of stuff for free. When I have tried to coupon I find that I am usually a.) spending money on a newspaper that I otherwise wouldn’t read for coupons, b.) gushing through a ton of printer ink which is about the same cost as unicorn blood to print coupons from the internet, c.) buying a bunch of stuff that I don’t really have the money for right now because it’s on sale and neglecting things I really need, and finally d.) coming home with a bunch of stuff that I either shouldn’t be eating or don’t really need. (i.e. 70+ containers of mustard) They neglect to show that several of these people either buy their coupons online from other people or they buy several newspapers.

4.)Is it really saving money if you are buying stuff you wouldn’t normally buy?: Even if it’s next to nothing? For example a lot of coupons are for things like mac and cheese, sugary kid cereals and snacks… I rarely find coupons for things that I buy regularly that put a huge pinch on my wallet like diet soda. For a while I was on an organic kick, trying to eat a whole heck of a lot better than is convenient for my lifestyle. I really had a hard time finding coupons for things like Greek Yogurt and whole wheat panko bread crumbs.

5.) Imagine how they could make a difference in the lives of others: How awesome it would be if someone was an extreme couponer and donated at least half of what they hoard to a food bank or some place serving people in need? One episode aired a man who purchased hundreds of boxes of cereal for free and then donated them to the local food bank. Why stop there though? A lot of the food banks could really benefit from having people donate things beside huge cans of generic brand beans and vegetables. Do they not deserve to have nice toilet paper and paper towels too?

I have nothing personal against people who want to stick it to the man by getting carts full of stuff for next to nothing, but please I beg you to remember the people that have nothing. I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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About Jamie

Jamie is a creative-techie mom, raising three boys under three (twins!) with her husband in Pennsylvania. Jamie now writes at The Red Robinson,


  1. Jamie:
    Good post! You pretty much summed up my thoughts completely!

  2. I 100% agree!!!!! I thought the exact same things when I watched the show last week. I try to use coupons – but not to any extreme. Also – don’t these people consume fruits and veggies? You never see anything fresh in their carts!!!! INCREDIBLE!!!!!

  3. Jamie, you’re hysterical:) I totally agree, though. It could really be a great ministry. Practically speaking, couponing is not that simple! Oh and most of those people were spending like $70 a month on coupons. Really???

  4. While I agree with everything that has been stated, I do have to say that couponing on the health and beauty stuff like deodorant, diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., has enabled me to keep buying fresh produce and meat. We often find pasta for free in this area, as well as condiments like barbeque sauce, and pasta sauce. There is also a store that runs catalina deals on items like canned tomatoes, pudding, oil, etc. By using coupons and the catalinas that I would get from the promotions, I can get other necessities like sugar, panko bread crumbs, and pantry staples for free or next to nothing. While this hasn’t dropped my budget tremendously, it has helped immensely to free up money to purchase fresh produce and meat that would have otherwise been tied up with other groceries.

    Buying all of the health and beauty stuff has also given me the opportunity to put together baskets for school auctions and give away stuff to familiy members or friends who are in need. While groceries are appreciated, sometimes it’s nice just to have some nice quality smelly bath stuff that you didn’t pick up at the dollar store. 🙂

    The lady they showed couponing this last week with the 70 bottles of mustard and grooming habits was also repeatedly committing coupon fraud- exploiting a loophole in the barcode system that allowed her to use one coupon for an entirely different product. Most of the grocery stores in the country are in the process of updating their barcode scanners to prevent this kind of fraud, but TLC should be ashamed of themselves for showing that lady to begin with.

  5. I know there are couponing extremists out there, but can someone give some Realistic coupon tips? Like, the best places to look, days to shop, etc.

  6. Lindsey, what stores do you shop at most often? There are several coupon blogs out there that list the deals for each store every week.

    Kroger and Meijer in my area will double coupons up to fifty cents- so a .50 coupon will take $1 off. Jewel Osco (or Albertson’s, depending on what part of the country you are in) usually runs a lot of catalina sales (buy x amount of specific product, get a catalina back for $x off your next purchase).

    My kroger starts its new sales cycle on Thursday,and that is also when they mark down produce, meat, and dairy stuff that is close to its expiration date. I usually shop Thursday morning because the new sale has started and I usually get first pick of anything that has been marked down on manager’s special. Some weeks I get it really good, like olive oil for $2 a bottle, other weeks, not so much.

  7. These are some of the websites that I check every week for deals: Meijer or, Walgreens or Jewel-Osco/Albertson’s chain or Kroger, Meijer

    Most of these blogs also overlap in their deals for CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and major grocery chains. Mashupmom is a Chicago based blog, Hip2Save is a North Carolina? (I think) based blog, but a lot of the deals they post can be nation wide.

    Most of the above blogs also put out a list of what coupons are coming up in the next Sunday’s paper. One thing to be careful of is that when you get coupons in the Sunday paper, not all areas will get all of the coupons- Proctor and Gamble often put out two different P&G inserts every month with varying coupon values. The closer you live to a major city, the better your coupons will be. 🙂

  8. Lindsey, maybe we will get someone who practices safe/normal couponing to do a guest post for us!

  9. Jamie, you make fantastic points! I have friends that are awesome with the coupons, but I totally agree, for the food we eat (a lot of local, organic, etc.), there just aren’t many coupons available, so it’s not worth my time. Kind of wish there were coupons, as then those things would be more in the mainstream!

    On looking for guest poster, I think that Chrys McCrary Stribling has done quite well with couponing, and I’ve been blown away by seeing her use amazing finds to bless others (like getting free school supplies to give away, etc.) Maybe she could help? 🙂

  10. Jamie – yes, yes, yes!

    I’ve only seen a few episodes, and at first I was thought it was amazing! It would be wonderful to go from $650 to $6.50. But after I watched more and more, I got fed up!

    Why do you need 100 bottles of salad dressing that will expire in a year and then go buy 10 more!

    I was talking to my husband, and decided that if I were ever to be a extreme couponer a lot of what I bought would be given away! It’s rough out there for everyone so why not let your family and friends “shop” at your home grocery. And why they don’t give what they don’t use to God’s Pantry or a homeless shelter or a summer camp is beyond me!!! It’s crazy ridiculous!

    But I’m one the same boat as Lindsey, I’m a completely wet behind the ears when it comes to couponing. Any help would be great!

    Thanks for the post!! 🙂

  11. I guess the thing that annoys me the most is that they’re clearing the shelves, so that the rest of us who would like to get a deal on one or two items are left looking at empty space.

  12. Great point Cindy! I hadn’t really thought about that.

  13. I watched the same show and was just in awe. While I thinking having a small stock pile of CERTAIN items (um, less than 20?) can be REALLY cost efficent, buying 60 FREAKING BOTTLES OF MUSTARD is not. Even if they were almost free.

    I can see stocking up on paper towels & toilet paper whenever it goes on sale if you have coupons, because that honestly is stuff you use that DOESN’T go out of date… but a lot of the other stuff is just insane.

    I’m a coupon failure, because like you said, I end up buying stuff I don’t want/use just to use a coupon. I buy store brands anyway usually, and save money that way.

    I have a friend who coupons heavily, and blogs & facebooks about her triumphs, but she always comes out with stuff they NEED and use. Also, she “dumpster dives” for the coupons! She goes to recycle places and goes through the recycled newspapers there. Not as crazy, but I’m still a failure.