Extreme Couponing: Savvy or Nuts?Posted on by Jennifer Bardall (MrsJenB)
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In today's economy (one of the most overused phrases ever), it's becoming more and more important to find ways to save a buck here or there. With the prices of everything from sugar to flour to gas climbing every day (thus making sugar and flour even MORE expensive to transport), most Americans are putting on their creative caps and finding ways to cut back. Taking public transportation instead of driving to work. Brown bagging it instead of going down to the sandwich shop every day. Looking at free porn as opposed to paying for it. We're all making little sacrifices.
And we all know that there are people who've had to take things to extremes as a result of losing a job. Many parents have had to resort to visiting food banks in order to put some food on the table for their kids. Many have had to downsize in a large way.
Out of the ashes of such situations has risen...the extreme couponer.
On the surface, extreme couponing is a fantastically amazing idea. Like, rainbows and unicorns wonderful. You buy several hundred dollars worth of stuff but only pay a nickel. That's the sort of situation the word "amazing" was invented for.
However...according to TLC's Extreme Couponing, it's not that simple. There is a bit of a dark side to all this extreme behavior. These coupon queens (and kings) don't just write up their grocery list for the week or even the month and then have at it. They'll flat-out clear the shelves of products just to use all of their coupons and thumb their nose at the store, not to mention the customer who might have actually only needed a bottle of mustard. They'll call in friends to help them break various sprees into multiple transactions in order to not violate the "limit one per purchase" clause. And it was recently reported by Entertainment Weekly that TLC is looking into allegations of fraud, as the aforementioned "clear the shelf of mustard" lady (her name is J'aime? Seriously?) has been accused of using coupons for products which weren't even in her cart. Granted the accusers were, like, coupon bloggers and not law enforcement officials...but still. That's how crazy some of these people can be.
Newspapers filled with coupons. Seriously, someone collected these. (photo credit)
What many people don't realize is that these extreme couponers build stockpiles from their purchases - and refer to them as such.
As God is my witness, I'll never run out of aluminum foil again! (photo credit)
They also recommend doing things like fishing through recycling bins for discarded coupon inserts (imagine living in an apartment complex - jackpot, right?), asking coworkers and neighbors for their inserts, grabbing left behind register-generated coupons out of carts at the store, buying up all of a certain item and then getting a rain check in order to buy that item again at sale price when they have more coupons...all sorts of tactics. Borderline crazy obsessive cat lady tactics.
What do you mean they dig through other people's garbage? (photo credit)
And what are these people buying, exactly, with all these coupons? Oh, super important things like brands of deodorant they don't use, condiments, junk food, and more cleaning products than anyone would ever need. To the point where entire closets or even entire rooms are dedicated to their hoard. If the world as we know it does indeed come to an end, these are gonna be the best-smelling people in the cleanest houses for sure.
Whew. Now I know where to go during the prophesied Fruit Roll-Up shortage. (photo credit)
For the most part, the only problem "outsiders" seem to have with such extreme tactics is the fact that these couponers have a stockpile of food which could easily be donated, at least in part, to those less fortunate. After all, who really needs 100 boxes of macaroni and cheese? It's bound to go on sale again sometime. And even though a handful of couponers have been called upon to donate some of their goods, the general feeling is that these acts of charity are few and far between...and only when cameras are rolling.
But extreme couponing does take work, research, and tenacity. Should naysayers be able to tell someone what to do with what they've purchased? Should someone be allowed to tell me what to do with my tax refund? Is there a difference?
What do YOU think about extreme couponing?
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