There is a show that is going to be airing tonight on TLC called Extreme Couponing. They showcase people who dumpster dive for coupons, have enough toilet paper to last 10 years and even purchase more than 1000 boxes of ceral at one time.
While I of course appreciate a good deal as much as the next person, I really think that there is a fine line between saving money and becoming obsessed (or actually – hoarding). Sure, we all love getting toothpaste for free at CVS, but most of us won’t run out and purchase 40 tubes “just because we can.” In fact, The majority of couponers DO NOT shop as they showcase on this program.
It bothers me that they are showing ONLY the extremes. Why not talk about how savvy and smart we are to NOT pay full price for things? It almost as if they are saying is that all couponers act like this. We are ALL being reflected in a negative light. I know so many of us get “the looks” and “eye rolls” already when we shop. It just seems that this is adding insult to injury.
So, if you are new to couponing, please don’t be discouraged by what this show portrays. It is far from reality for 99% of couponers. In fact, here are things that good couponers do:
1. We don’t clear shelves. When there is a good deal on a product, we will not walk into the store with 20 coupons in hand and wipe the shelves clean. In fact, we would do the opposite, we try to leave some for other fellow couponers. If there is a deal and we want to purchase excess amounts, we will actually contact the manager and place a special order for the quantity we want to purchase.
2. We Pay It Forward. The majority of couponers are extremely generous and giving. In fact, they purchase items they may not personally use (or shall I say “get for free items they won’t use”) just so that they can donate them to local shelters or food pantries. The point is to always pay it forward with what you are learning. In fact, I just had a reader email me to today to see if I could help her figure out where to donate some of her stockpile.
3. Creating a stockpile is OK. While they show people with 1000 toothbrushes on this show, most of us actually have less than 10 – 15 (if even that many) in our homes. Stockpiling is when you find a deal on something you do not need at the moment, but purchase anyhow for future use. It just make good common sense to buy something on sale, rather than wait until you need it and are forced to pay full price.
4. We don’t “steal” coupons. Most couponers will purchase additional copies of the Sunday newspaper or ask friends/family to save the inserts for them. While dumpster diving for coupons works for some people – I will admit that most couponers don’t operate that way. I am not saying this is bad – just not for everyone.