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My wife clued me into Monday night's showing of ‘Extreme Couponing' on TLC.  For those who might not have caught the buzz, each 30-minute episode features two stories of individuals (or families) who save outrageous amounts of money at the grocery store by use of coupons.

My wife and I both watched it, and while the savings by each of the two women featured in the first episode was impressive (98% off their bill in one case), the show didn't inspire us to start following any of the trends in the episode.

In fact, I walked away feeling more annoyed than anything else.

First, we do use coupons.  My wife goes through the Sunday paper inserts every week.  I print out coupons from various websites, and we use a local site called Bargains to Bounty to match coupons with sales to yield even better savings.  We don't come close to 98% savings for any week, but we do save some good money.

Now, onto why the presentation of these ‘extreme' couponers annoyed me:

  • The time factor – One woman spent over five hours in the grocery store.  Another said that she does four shopping trips per week and spends four hours per trip planning.  That's an awful lot of time to commit to shopping.
  • The processed factor – So much of the food that they showed them loading up on was processed foods.  Now, we're not perfect by any means when it comes to processed food, but I simply don't see how you can get $500+ worth of groceries for $6 and walk away with any fresh fruits or vegetables.
  • The gross factor – One deal saw a lady buying package after package of hot dogs. My wife saw the type they were and said ‘Eww, those are disgusting.'  Hot dogs that start off at $1.39 a package to begin with, well I don't care how cheap you can get them for.  No thanks!
  • The ‘junk' factor – One of TLC's more popular shows was right after ‘Extreme Couponing' and I don't think it was an accident.  I get the feeling that, with all the clutter that these people accumulate, some of the people featured on this show will soon be featured on ‘Hoarders'.
  • The intensity factor – Apparently, to coupon to these extremes, you  have to be a very intense person.  At least the ladies all were that I saw.  Their intensity was a little unsettling, not to mention that one lady kept referring to her family as a ‘litter'.
  • The ‘throwaway' factor – Even taking into account a large number of children, I just don't see how you buy 40+ boxes of cereal, 27 bottles of mustard, or similar quantities of anything without having stuff go bad.  If you're getting things that you can and will use, that's fine, but if you're getting things just for the sake of getting them, I don't see the point.  I simply refuse to believe that all the people they show are going to use everything that they buy.

I recommend coupons.  But, I don't recommend using this show as a guideline for those who might want to get more involved with clipping coupons.  Most people aren't going to be able to approach the savings that these people do (and most people don't have the house to store all this stuff without it ruling their life), but the way I look at it is that saving anything is better than saving nothing, especially if it's a product that you're planning on buying anyways.

What did you think about the show?

This is a show that was interesting for awhile, but that I quickly found myself unable to watch, and I certainly don't think I would watch every day.