'Extreme Couponing': Please, sir, I want some more

extreme-couponingImage Credit: TLCMy expectations for Extreme Couponing were, to say the least, extremely high. As every child raised watching Supermarket Sweep and the less-superior-but-still-notable Shop Til You Drop, I have a great appreciation for retail-based programming.

I have to admit, however, that my initial impression of Extreme Couponing led me to believe it was a competitive show — a one-episode special of sorts. Incorrect. It was actually a profile of four individuals who had firm grasp on the art of grocery savings to an inspiring extent. (One woman filled her cart with more than $600 in merchandise and paid only $2.64 after Quill coupons. A true American hero.) I even found myself running to grab this week’s circular out of the trash where I had just placed it, hoping to find a deal like those I’d just seen taken advantage of on the special. I found no such deal and was uninspired as quickly as I had found my desire to coupon, leading me to toss the dirty paper back into the receptacle with a “pfft” for good measure.

But the failure also gave me an idea: I want to learn how to do this. 

While my initial desire was to see a show in which the extreme couponers compete to see who could save the most money, I’ve concluded that a simple show of versus would not be enough to put these people’s skill to use. (Yes, I’d count saving buckets of money a skill.) They should mentor others about couponing.

We have British ladies teach parents how to raise their kids. We have screaming muscled people teach us how to be skinnier. Why can’t these people be experts in the art of coupon savings and mentor us over-spenders? I’d seriously watch that. (Disclaimer: I’ve been known to watch some truly vile unscripted television.)

What do you think, PopWatchers? Did you watch Extreme Couponing? Would you watch more of this? And if so, how could TLC make this into a weekly show?

Sandra on Twitter: @EWSandraG

Comments (211 total) Add your comment
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  • I watched, it was okay

    There are a ton of blogs out there that mentor people in couponing.

    I am a major couponer, but not to the excess of some of those people. Joyce, the one who only had $200 worth in her cart, is who I am most in common with. I am not going to buy 500 sticks of deodorant and get them for free because I can. It’s all about the high for some people…

    • Howard S. Terne

      Unfortunately, none of the (typically organic and “independent”) products that I buy ever seem to go on sale or have coupons for them, and I’m not just going to buy some crap because it’s on sale or has a coupon.

      • paul

        You are being victimized by the biggest rip off in America. If it’s healthy, expect to pay 2 to 5 times more than it’s worth!! The ONLY relief is to buy the FEW healthy things offered at places like WalMart. Compare Boca Burgers at WM to any high-end supermarket or health food store – they cost 1/3 at much at the big box store!!

      • JB

        The massive consumption is kind of crazy. I agree, just because something is free or near free doesn’t mean you need it or should take it. But I know some major couponers donate a lot of the goods they get to food banks, etc. As far as the comment by Paul above comparing Whole Foods and Walmart. Are the products at Walmart cheaper because they pay their employees minimal salaries, keep their employees part time, pay women less, and fail to provide adequate benefits? I understand that people want the super low prices at Walmart…but there is a reason those prices are so low.

      • to JB

        I get sick of people downing Walmart. My sister has worked there for over 23 yrs and makes good money with benefits. For someone without college, you can work your way up to good money. You do not need a blood sucking Union in everything. Greed is what is killing this country. No one forces “anyone” to work at Walmart. If they hate it, there is a door to leave. But I bet those who do can not find a better job,.. without any skills. Wise up.

      • To “to JB”

        I think the point was that prices are lower at Walmart versus Whole Foods because they don’t provide as much salary and benefits to their employees (in addition to their bulk buying). Facts don’t lie and no one said people shouldn’t work at Walmart. If that’s what people want to do, that’s fine. And, if you wise up and be honest with yourself, not everyone can work their way up. Structure of management makes that impossible. And you yourself said you have to work your way up to good money which in itself says you don’t start off with good pay.

        People think they are saving money by shopping at Walmart but they are just paying for inferior quality on meat and produce and home goods. For national brands, you can get them just as cheap or cheaper if you watch the sales at the grocery store.

        To Paul, I pay the same thing at my local grocery store that you would pay at Walmart for Boca Burgers. Plus, they often have 2 for 1 sales at which time I stock up. Some items are more expensive but they are also higher quality or not available at Walmart. Smart shopping can net you good quality, healthy food at low prices at the local chain grocery store without having to go to Whole Foods.

        Coupons tend to be for items on the inside of the store which means they are often processed with high sodium and preservatives, that’s why we don’t use them.

      • Maxine

        You can contact the manufacture of the products you purchase tell them how much you love there products and they will send you coupons. Most of the time they will send you at least one free coupon.

      • Michelle

        I love Trader Joes and unfortunately you can’t use coupons. I agree organic foods you can’t use coupons. Do you want to pay the butcher or the doctor. I do believe you can get your personals like toilet paper and toothpaste for cheap. Its worth getting coupons for that kind of stuff.

      • Marylynn

        Walmart is horrible. You can get the same thing at a different store with a coupon for cheaper prices. They have been steadily increasing prices on merchandise. Think about what Walmart is doing to these wonderful small towns in the south/midwest. It’s a shame and people need to start realizing the “great bargain” they are getting is a sham.

      • Kylee

        Check out mambosprouts.com as well as wholefoods also has great coupons on thier site . Write to companies and ask them for coupons !

    • jason

      In my city, you could never even do this. If something is on sale, the store limits the quantity. So for example if they are having a buy one , get one on cereal, you can only get 4 boxes. If the cashier is nice and they have lot of quanity, they might let you get 10 – even 20 – but never 100s

    • Kim

      Can you tell me where you find all your coupons?

      • Karen

        In my area, they are in the Sunday paper. Also, if you go online and search for “grocery coupons”, there are numerous sites that you can go to to print them. Some charge but you can generally find a site that has them to print at home for free. If you print at home, check with your local grocery store to make sure they accept home printed coupons. Mine does but I’ve heard some chains do not.

      • To Kim

        I agree with Karen-the Sunday papers are the best resource. There are clipping services too that you can pay for additional coupons,which is how they get soo many coupons to do this kinda of shopping. If your stores accepts internet printed coupons you can go to coupons .com to print 2 of each offered coupon. Go to websites of products you use and sometimes they offer coupons to request or print.

    • kim

      what items u dont use the food pantry or shelter can sure use them…

  • Meg

    Totally watched this last night; thought I was the only one. I must confess, though, I was expecting a “Price is Right” showdown where instead of guessing retail prices to win awesome showcases, contestants would win awesome showcases by showing how much they save through couponing and teaching others how to coupon their way to being debt-free/hoarders.

    • PN

      I thought it was a Price is Right styled show where they compared grocery prices of the items that were on sale. But I thought the clip of the show is interesting and they saved lots of money, to where they’re spending about $2 to $6 to $10 on everything with the floods of coupons! My, did they have stacks of them on hand!

  • Heidi

    I would totally watch so long as the deals can also work in Canada where I live.

  • shawna

    I watched it- came across it by accident accually. And I LOVED it! Totally inspiring and AMAZING to say the least! I would TOTALLY watch a series (I actually came across this article while Googling ‘extreme couponing’ to see if it was a series and when the next episode came on, LOL). I dont know how they could make this a weekly series but I really do hope they would!

    • Patricia

      I agree with you. I just came to see it because my husband was flipping through the channels and I looked to see if it was on at a later time. I would love to watch a series on this. I try to use coupons and love when I get a good deal – like Salad on sale for 1.00 a bag and then a $1.00 off coupon, or johnson and johnson $1.50 off any item and the item I purchased was only $1.19, so the difference paid for some of my other items. I even have managed to get diapers for free when they are on clearance for $2.99 in March and had a $3.00 off coupon. I try my best, but since we don’t have double coupons at our stores, except for one and they only double up to $.50, I could never get the deals that they got on the show.

      • jessica

        Wow i would love to even get the deals you get. I live in canada and pay 27.99 for diapers.

  • beatrice

    I caught the end of it. I once stood behind someone whom had about 600 worth of stuff that got down to about 35 after her coupons, gift cards and store discount. I’ll admit, I was impressed, but I agree with the other poster..I only feel good when I’ve gotten things that I need and will save me in the future. I don’t want 30 bottles of soap just because I can get them. Besides, on some things what about expiration dates? Giving it to charity or to the church is admirable, but take it from one whom knows..it is work to buy only what you need, and to keep abreast of what store is having what special, cost per unit, etc..

    • Seriously?

      30 bottles of soap aren’t going to expire any day soon. Your post implies you’d only choose to save on what you might use, I’m GUESSING you use soap, so feel free to buy it at cheapest cost and have it when you DO need it!

    • Blueman

      I’m an avid couponer. Not to the extent of these people, but I get lots for free. For those of you who are skeptics- I ONLY buy things that I like. I don’t get them just because they are on sale or free. Manufacturers of your favorite products do provide coupons. You just haven’t looked hard enough. If I do come across something that would be free, if I don’t think I’ll use it, I get it anyway and donate it, or ask friends if they can use it. Free is free. I just won’t stockpile like the people on the show. Not sure what I would do with 20 years worth of deoderant. Open my own store?

      • Shawn

        Open your own store exactly. Thats what I’m seriously considering. If not that then food banks/homeless shelters, yard/garage sales, Craigslist, Ebay and whatever else.

  • Cheryl

    I was mesmerized by the amount of time these people put into their craft….went out & picked up a Kroger circular today & am going to start slow & see how I can come up with a system, just like theirs!!!!

    • Madison

      Find a local blogger who matches up the coupon deals for you, its difficult to do it by yourself, especially just starting out!

      • Karen

        If you have a CVS in your area, their Sunday circular prints which items also have a coupon running in the paper.

    • Renee

      I’ve started researching how to coupon since seeing this show. I found a website called southernsavers.com. You would need to live in the south east though for it to be beneficial. If you don’t then I’m sure there’s something similar for your region.

      • AC

        I’ve been doing southersavers for about a year w/ Harris Teeter. Probably have reduce my bill by 3/4. It’s great. Stick w/ one store. Everything goes on sale in different cycles at different stores. I love super doubles and triples.

  • Mary

    What channel is this on?

    • J

      TLC

  • Suzanne

    I had forgotten how much I used to love watching “Supermarket Sweep” when I was a kid. And, how weird my mom thought I was for liking it.

    • layne

      me too! i had totally forgotten that show existed until i read this article. whoa!sarah

    • epz

      Me too! My brother and I always loved Supermarket Sweep and Shop Til You Drop.

    • Windy

      My husband and I used to watch that , loved it..

    • Tracee

      Supermarket Sweep was great. And this show does remind me of that in a way. I admire those shoppers but will need help trying to learn that craft.

      • Christina

        I’m glad other people loved Supermarket Sweep as much as I did. My local grocery store got a ton of “gold wrapped hams” for the Holidays, and every time I see them I think about people loading up their carts with their limit of 5.

  • Evylenia

    It is an inspiring show, however it is MY belief that we who watch shows such as this watch it to learn how we too can achieve this.An average person does NOT coupon to the extreme these on the show do, but we would like to learn. It is an inspiring show indeed!

  • pamb456

    There are many websites where you can download coupons, compare deals, etc. It takes a lot of time to compare everything and make different trips to different stores, depending on where the deals are. How much is your time/energy/sanity worth?

    I consider myself a decent couponer. I cut them out and compare them to the weekly circulars, and rotate between my 3 local grocery chains (plus Target, Costco and Trader Joe’s). I don’t want to devote hours of my time, and don’t want to buy more than my family can use in a resaonable amount of time.

    The more time I spend couponing, the less time I have to go on my favorite websites!

    • jason

      our stores wont let you use coupons you print off the internet due to fraud. You can print a coupon and then photocopy it multiple times. They wont accept them

      • rachael

        I believe most internet printable (IP) coupons now have copy protection features where certain patterns do not show up after copying. It is unusual for a big chain of stores not take IPs at all due to this.

  • kmkirk

    I loved the show. In the current economy taking coupons to the grocery store instead of cash seems like a good idea to me. This could be a great weekly show just like the shows trying to get people out of debt. The coupon show could do the same thing with grocery shopping. Take us through the ins and outs of grocery store sales, where to get coupons and how to stay organized. Great idea! I think focusing on getting only what you need, or giving to charity, or shopping for a large group of people and rotate the shopping duties would be a good show. Include the community in which people live. Show the impact of what just a few people can do that purchase $600 of groceries for $3. I would love to impact my community like that. Teach me!

  • jah

    the thing is, it takes some leg work so that’s where most people give up. for someone who has more time then money, it’s a good hobby but it equates to a part time job. just be aware

  • fgsg

    Google in the input: (clshoe.us )you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o

  • MP

    My husband actually called me in the room to watch. We were both shocked at how much people were able to save. Inspired I called around to some of the grocery stores around our area (IL just outside of St. Louis) and only one will honor double coupons and you can only use 15 with a max of $0.40 per coupon. These women were using hundreds of coupons per visit. I just don’t understand how to take advantage when none of the stores in our area will let you use that many coupons.

    • alwayssunny

      i live in massachusetts and i used to work for a chain of grocery stores that’s all over new england. that store’s policy was that they doubled only up to a dollar and you couldn’t use more than six of any one type of coupon. so unless you split your order up into many many smaller separate orders you could never get away with that many coupons in the store i worked in either.

    • CoolWhipLite

      I’m in Florida, and I was left with the same question. Sometimes, these cashiers act like the amount of a few coupons is being deducted from their own paychecks. I always make sure I’ve purchased the correct number of items mentioned on the coupon, make sure the item specs match up…but it’s still a no-go sometimes.

      • melanie

        What i was wondering if they had a coupon for .50 off 4 cans of soup would you have to buy 40 cans of soup if you had 10 coupons.

  • Allison

    I have to admit the only part of the show I saw was the girl with the bob, who went dumpster diving with her kid and preggers friend. When she was “showing off” her stash I was actually a little repulsed – I just see it being very, very unlikely that she, her husband and son were ever going to eat even half of that food, and it doesn’t seem like she waits until anything is used up to go shopping again.

    • Sheryl George

      If you check her blog KrazyCouponLady.com she has a video clip and a Q&A about the show, she purchased that much for the show and posted a video of her donating 300lbs of food to her local food pantry :-) She was the only person on the show where her stockpile wasn’t overflowing into her home :-)

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