Extreme Couponing on TLC

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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.


  1. Marcia says

    Couponing has helped me to save on many items I need. I started in Nov 2009 and have been amazed how much money it has saved on our grocery bills. I do have a stockpile of items we use. I have given to friends and family on a regular basis, and have donated several times to our church. I still had plenty, so I chose a local nursing home with 50 residents, and made them gift bags with body wash, lotion, shampoo, candy and other items. I don’t hoard, but do keep plenty for my family. I feel like the free or almost free items are a blessing, and I do like sharing my blessings. I think saving money and sharing is being a good steward of the money God allows us to earn.

  2. rachel b. says

    thanks for the great post and for standing up for the majority of us, Tracie! It was very accurate with my type of couponing and what I know of others. We’re just out there to save a buck and hopefully bless our family with much in a time when there’s little to work with!

  3. Julie says

    Thank you for this articulate post. This show is portrays gluttony. As much as I love couponing, it will never become more important than spending time with my family.

  4. Judy Young says

    I agree with you! I’ve only been seriously couponing about 3 months and I can see how it can get addictive. I am working on a list of how much stockpiled items I want to keep and I’ll donate the rest. I just took a huge bag of personal care items to a domestic victim’s shelter in my city. I thought the woman at the shelter was going to cry! THAT is the high that I coupon for, not walking out of the store with 1000 cereal boxes.

  5. mandilee says

    I just got done watching the show and all I have to say is wow I am new to cuponing I did not relize that there were ppl out there like that ! wow just wow

  6. says

    Great post! I completly agree with everything except for the dumpster diving part. I always check the newspaper bin when I take my recycling back for good coupons. Why not? Why waste money on purchasing more papers when I can get the extra coupons I need from the recycling bin. For me, the less papers I purchase the better I am doing for the enviroment. If I bought 10 papers every week, that is 10 newspapers going to waste because the only thing I want out of them is the inserts and the rest is junk to me and goes off to the recycling bin anyways.

  7. Kelly says

    I am like most of your readers and consider couponing a blessing not an obsession! Except for the guy that bought the cereal, not one of the others donated any items and to that is wrong to let things go to waist when there are people out there with no food for their tables (sad). There is no possible way they will be able to use the items they bought that could go to GOOD use for people who can not afford these items. I truly hope that maybe after they watch themselves on TV they see the need to share some of their HUGE STOCK PILE! And for the life of me I still have not figured out how they walked out of Walmart with over 1K of food for less then $2 something??? I know there are a lot of good deals (meaning free or close to free) but still how did they accomplish this?? My Walmart with mark items down and not alow overage – so are they doing something else they did not mention on the program?? Just wondering.

    • Tracie says

      Kelly – they did that with double and triple coupons combined with sales. So, if you have cereal that is on sale for $1.49 a box and have a coupon for $1.50/3 and they triple that – you can get 3 for free. Plus, many of these pepole live in areas of the country where they do not pay sales tax on food, so that also contributes to their drastic savings.