Extreme Couponing?

Last week my eldest happened on a new show when channel surfing – Extreme Couponing on TLC. I suspect some of you likely saw it.

In the event you missed it, the show, now a series in production, features Americans who make it their life’s mission to pay nothing or very little for their groceries, with coupon use, stacking, matching and sales sleuthing. You know this is an American show, because I just don’t think this kind of stuff is possible here in Canada.

Yes, they get awesome deals. Yes, I’m a bit envious that I’ve actually laid down money for toothpaste and a few of these folks have not done that in years. Other than that, I’m a bit bewildered.

One fellow cheerfully confessed he has 150 years of deodorant stockpiled in his home. I can’t help but wonder why. I didn’t hear him mention that he wanted to open up his stash to his neighbours and friends and invite them to help themselves and throw a few cents in a jar. These were for his own personal use. Maybe he’s also a vampire and plans to live forever, but that’s another show I guess.

One woman seemed quite rational. She explained that in her analysis of sales flyers, similar products go on sale about once every three months.  Therefore, she purchased only enough of something (where she had a coupon) to last her three months. I was impressed until the clip of her and her young son at the grocery store were confronted with the sale of pasta sauce and she opted to purchase 40 jars. Seriously? That’s a three month supply?

One fellow inspired me when he discovered a deal on cereal and ordered 1000 boxes to donate to his local church/food bank. Those 1000 boxes of cereal set him back about $150. Good for him.  Still, rooms of his home were set up like a storage warehouse, where him and his wife kept their stocks for personal use.

Most of the participants told a similar story: they were in debt or in some sort of financial turmoil, and turned to clipping coupons or coupon clipping services to help curb the costs at the grocery store. For many of these folks, their couponing has turned from habit to a full on job, where coupons are ordered in binders, plastic sleeves, etc.

Hey, I like being organized. I just had a million questions when I was watching this show.

  • Do these people work? Or do they spend their entire days hunting for deals and coupons to match?
  • Do they live in bigger homes (with higher mortgages) in order to stockpile their great deals?
  • If they rent, have their landlords checked out the condition of their place lately? Does anybody whisper anything about a fire code?
  • Do they drive bigger cars and own trailers to take their haul home?
  • Are they all charitable, or is it all for family/personal use?
  • Have they been banned from some stores?
  • Have they been former shop-a-holics for non-grocery items and they’ve simply transferred their shopping high to consumables and think that’s a more noble cause?
  • Do their friends and family tell them they’re freaks?
  • Are they re-selling stuff at a profit?
  • Do they all have weight issues?

I will say, the show inspired me to look at my little stash of coupons in the cupboard and see if I could use any on my grocery trek this weekend. Obviously I’m not as organized as some of these folks because I ended up tossing a few that had already expired before I could use them. However, I did end up taking a small fistfull to the grocery store yesterday. I saved just over $10, which was cool.

Still, with my 7 or 8 coupons in hand, the guy behind in me in line huffed and puffed and picked up his groceries and went to a different line. Remember, I don’t have a car, so I only buy as many groceries as  I can physically carry. This was NOT a lot of groceries. Clearly this guy had other things on his mind.  On my last coupon, the cashier had to get a manager’s approval to override the register – apparently it only likes 5 or 6 coupons, not 7 or 8. Imagine what would happen if I had a binder full and a truck and trailer outside?

When there are sales here, I often see stores limit the quantity at that price. When you exceed that quantity, there’s a different price.  Additionally, most of my coupons often say “cannot be combined with any other offer” or “maximum four coupons in a similar transaction” or some such thing. There aren’t any grocery stores, that I’m aware of anyway, that have coupon matching like I know they do in the States.

Sure, I’ve used store’s price matching and price guarantee. I’ve called stores on the Scanning Code of Practice. I’ve used my Shopper’s Optimum points to get stuff for free. I’ve had some free flights (save for the taxes) thanks to Aeroplan points. But I suspect I’ll never emerge from the grocery store with $600 of stuff and lay down $2 or $3 and walk out without being arrested.

Thanks to TLC for reminding me I can be better at using coupons.  Still, I can’t help wondering if the folks featured here will be in line for the next season of Hoarders

 

 

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Funny you mention Hoarders – that’s exactly what I was thinking when I was reading the post! I was watching a couple of episodes on netflix and one lady was a thrift store shopper/hoarder. She moved out of her house and bought a new one and they were in danger of losing everything, it was just sad.

    When I lived in the States, my grocery costs were WAAAY lower than they are here – tons of Buy one, get one free (and the prices weren’t inflated first like at Safeway up here). And then – if the store doesn’t show the price right (Albertson’s was bad / good for this) – you get two things free, which made me feel kind of like I was intentionally stealing, which is not good.

    I had a ton of deodorant from those value packs that you can find at Walmart, but I donated them to a shelter since I can’t use regular deodorant anyway (some kind of allergy).

    I’m the same way with the coupons and don’t use them very often (one a week maybe – only because my cream and milk has a coupon now) since I just don’t buy much stuff that coupons are used for. I don’t think all that processed food is good for you even if it is free.

    I think I’ve conquered my pantry hoarding tendencies this last year… 😛 I had nowhere near the problem that some people have so it just took a few months of planning a few more meals around what I had rather than trying to concoct brilliant new recipes all the time. It’s amazing how many varieties of risotto you can make. 🙂 My kids were happy to not have to be guinea pigs to satisfy my creativity…

    Reply

  2. That show really does not respresent true couponers. Those people also do not shop like that on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. They saved up all of their valuable coupons for this one shopping trip so they looked good on TV.

    I have a basement full of stuff, thanks to coupons. Some consider me extreme, I do not. I regularily donate items to food banks, shelters and friends & family. I clear out items all the time. I HATE having too much of one thing.

    Reply

  3. And so it beings, 7 or 8 coupons today, next week 10 or 12, soon you’ll be stockpiling in your basement lol!
    Seriously (for me) I can’t be bothered. My time is too valuable to be spent clipping coupons or searching the net for deals. While it would be nice to save so much money a lot of time and effort goes into it too. I just shop at No Frills where everything is cheap all of the time. That being said I KNOW i could do a LOT better looking for bargains but I guess I just don’t care enough.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Michelle Hart on January 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I caught part of this show and I was wondering how much of their food goes to waste. They didn’t have a huge family, and a lot of the foodstuffs they had in their garage would expire before they even got through one shelf!
    The one woman who helped all the other customers in the store had her countertops filled! I am all for saving money, but it is not any savings if it goes to waste or you can’t use your kitchen!

    Reply

  5. Posted by rebecca on May 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I love the show and wish I could do that but in Canada it’s totally different There is no way posssible.

    Reply

  6. Posted by anna on May 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    i watch the show when its on only if toronto would do that people might not have ahard time getting by

    Reply

  7. Posted by Heather on August 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I’m watching Extreme Couponing right now. I really worry about the amount of processed foods these couponers are taking home. I love the idea of great savings but wish I could buy fresh/organic items. I did email some of my favorite companies a few weeks ago and all but one said they would send me coupons. It’s great to save a bit of cash but living in Toronto means we don’t have the deals they have in the States and I have limited storage space. I don’t want to end up on Hoarders 🙂

    Reply

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