A Review of TLC’s Extreme Couponing

[ 1 ] January 6, 2011 |

When I sat down to watch Extreme Couponing, to be honest, I thought I’d be a little bored. But five minutes in, I was shushing my husband because I didn’t want to miss anything. I was blown away by how much time these obsessed couponers spent searching for coupons and how much money their efforts saved them – like thousands in one trip!

Here’s a glimpse of the show (that may leave you feeling a little bummed for ever spending money on toothpaste).

Coupon Obsessed

The kind of couponing most of us are used to is bringing a few clippings with us to save five bucks. Well, Extreme Couponing showcases how four coupon collectors save thousands of dollars on ONE shopping trip. In fact, couponer, Nathan Engels’ total was $5,743, but he only paid $241! He refers to couponing as a chess game, in which the opponent is the store.

Stockpiles

For couponers Amanda Ostrowski (who has over 3,000 rolls of toilet paper to last 40 years) and Joanie Demer (who digs through garbage searching for extra flyers), buying in bulk has helped them create huge stockpiles. They base their shopping trips on when their coupons coincide with store deals – known in the coupon world as “doubles” so they can actually get most products free. Check out what they both got on their trips and how much they saved:

  • Amanda – 218 boxes of pasta, 268 containers of noodles, 100 bottles of sport drinks, 150 candy bars and more. Her total came out to $1,175.33, and after coupon redemption she paid $51.67.
  • Joanie – Over 250 items that included 40 boxes of pasta and 20 liters if soda. She racked up a bill of $638.64, but only paid $2.64!

At this point of the program I felt really dumb for all the money I’ve spent on groceries when with a little work, I could have paid close to nothing. It comes with a cost though. For shopping trips such as the above, a lot of work and stress goes into them.

Adrenaline, Stress, Relief

This is the rollercoaster ride these couponers go on. It begins with an average of 70 hours a week just to search for and sort coupons. Once the shopping trip begins and they’re pushing their cart along, the adrenaline starts to kick in. And when things start to pile up, the stress begins to rise:

  • They’ve got to make sure all products in their cart have coupons to go with them, or they risk paying full price.
  • They have a nagging fear that their calculations were wrong and they’ve put too many or too little of one product type in their cart.
  • Scouting cashiers is another big deal. They often try to find a cashier who’s easy going and doesn’t easily get flustered.
  • They begin to feel the burning stares of other customers in a rush. Amanda claims that she feels that other shoppers judge her.

By the end of the transaction, a crowd of people have gathered to hear what the crazy discount comes out to. And the couponer is beaming with excitement – the happy aura a casino-jackpot-hitter exudes.

So, Would You?

Out of all couponers, Joyce House, Mrs. Coupon Diva is the one I could relate to most. She was the only one out of the four that didn’t have a stockpile. She did spend a lot of her time searching for coupons, but she only purchased what was needed. Besides, how much pasta can one family eat? And what about expiry dates?

This program has opened my eyes to how carelessly I spend. If I took at least 30 minutes a week looking through flyers or even subscribe to a coupon site to be notified of offers, I’d be on my way to spending less money. Just like Mrs. Coupon Diva says: you just need to be patient and pay attention.

So, are you an extreme couponer? Think you’ll be digging through garbage for deals any time soon?

Category: shopping tips

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  1. KC says:

    Hi, I watched this program and was feeling pretty sick about the whole thing by the end. This was a gross way of showing extreme “pigism” at its finest. Hoarders, Obsessed, Heavy, and any other reality show you want to group into this. I thought that I was going to actually learn something about shopping from the way the promo’s were shown on the tv about this show. What did we get? the finest displays of “my wall of asswipe & soaps with body wash with noodles” Good on them for spending 70 hours a week being “obsessed” with screwing the supermarkets. What happens when the stores decide that they have had enough and stop with all the double/triple days? And then what happens to the people who actually DON’T have stock rooms full of “savings” the ones who use the few items that treuly make or break the seniors budget? Enjoy the greed…. Hint … next year plant a garden… the shovel in the ground will go farther and you might lose some weight pulling weeds.

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