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Review – Extreme Couponing

April 11, 2011

Extreme Couponing – TLC – 9:00/8:00pm Wednesday – USA

As a network TLC have a knack for naming their guaranteed-to-be-crappy reality shows things that make you curious enough that you might actually tune in to something called I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, or Sister Wives, or 19 Kids And Counting. Needless to say the moment I heard the words Extreme Couponing it piqued my curiosity. The combination of the exciting word ‘extreme’ and the otherwise mundane word ‘couponing’ was more than enough justification for me to sit down and watch what was almost assuredly going to be a crappy television show.

I wasn’t the only one lured in by the absurd combination of couponing and the extremeness of that couponing as 2.6 million other people also tuned in for the premiere episode. To put that in perspective that’s three times as many people as tuned into the season finale of Terriers. Poor Terriers, if only you’d been titled Extreme Couponing you’d still be with us. For those that did tune in we were treated to one of the strangest shows to come along in a while.

Extreme Couponing played out like most reality shows, we meet a couple of people who coupon to the extreme, we follow them on a shopping trip and look at how much money they saved on their coupons. Unfortunately the show doesn’t really explain any of it and it left me in such a state of bewilderment I didn’t know where to turn. The first episode featured two separate women who each have houses packed full of stock they’ve bought under their coupon habit. It also showed them score some ridiculous savings on their shopping trips, but at no point did it explain how or why any of this was happening.

Putting aside the couponing itself for a moment, why are these women stockpiling so much food and other products? One family had 70 boxes of cereal in their home, but for what purpose? Are they addicted to collecting? Do they actually eat all that cereal? Is it for the coming apocalypse? Why do they buy so much stuff? When this woman goes to the supermarket she buys 60 bottles of mustard and her husband doesn’t even like mustard. Why does she need to do a shop like this four times a week? Extreme Couponing does not have anything that remotely sounds like an answer.

The narrator insists that Extreme Couponing will have some shopping trips that you’ll need to see to believe, and that’s true but even after seeing them I was dumbfounded as to how they could happen and then enraged that the show didn’t feel like clueing us in. One woman paid just $5.97 for over $500 worth of groceries. How? I don’t know, she used a membership card, she handed over some coupons and – tada! – instant savings. It would be good if the show explained how they can get such ridiculous savings. What combinations of coupons does somebody use to bring a $1,902.63 shopping bill down to $103.72?

The show does give brief examples of the sorts of savings these extreme couponers are garnering, but most of them don’t make any sense. The second family was actually earning a dollar for every box of cereal they bought. How is that even possible? Why don’t they just spend their life buying cereal?! They could make a fortune! What does doubling a coupon mean? What about tripling a coupon? Why don’t any of these stores have a ‘one coupon per item per person per day’ policy to save them from giving away thousands of dollars of stock at a 98% discount?

I was endlessly fascinated by this show, and I would love to have given it a higher rating but Extreme Couponing just hung me out to dry. This show left me with more questions than the Lost finale. It is truly amazing that these people dedicate this much time to save an incredible amount of money, but Extreme Couponing has to do some set up especially in the first episode. You can’t just show us people cutting out coupons from newspapers and then buying a lot of the same product and not tell us why. What process do they use to decide which coupons on to choose? Does using the same coupon a certain number of times have any added benefit? And seriously, what the hell are they going to do with so many damn cereal boxes?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Hobo permalink
    April 12, 2011 12:48 am

    Damn’t now I want to watch the second episode in case they have answers to some of the questions you posed…

  2. gaycarboys permalink
    April 30, 2011 2:28 pm

    I bot half way through the 1st ep and lost the will to live!

  3. Esmerelda permalink
    May 12, 2011 6:51 am

    These coupons aren’t even available in Australia. If they were, I’d shop like these people. We have no double up on coupons either and there are limits as to how many boxes you can purchase in one hit. Still, I am intrigued and want to know more. Unfortunately, the show does not give enough details and the how-to.

  4. Ana permalink
    October 22, 2011 9:08 pm

    I just watched the first 3 episodes of this show and having absolutely no clue about coupons at all (I just arrived to the US from Australia where we don’t have anything like that), I was able to learn pretty much all the answers to your questions? They even gave you several website addresses on the show where you could learn how to coupon. The doubling up of coupons is not totally clear to me, but it seems like you can just use two of the same coupons on one item. And stockpiling on basics you know your family needs all the time seems self explanatory, say 70 boxes of cereal might last a family of 5 less than a year. Google has all the info you need.. the show was cool because I didn’t even have a clue you could do that and would never have googled couponing on my own. I’ve decided to try the sell extreme version since I dont have much storage space but I am lacking on funds at the moment so why not!

  5. mysterix permalink
    March 6, 2012 7:05 am

    Just FYI:

    Coupon doubling/tripling is a promotion offered by most grocery stores. If you bring in a manufacturer coupon, most stores will match the value of any coupon up to $1. So, if you bring in a $1 coupon, the store will give you an additional $1 off, totaling $2 savings. Special “Triple coupon days” are less frequent, but the same general idea.

    The way they get items for free is by waiting for store sales, then using a coupon. For example… Cheerios is normally $3.50/box but is put on special for $2.00/box. You bring in a $1 Cheerios coupon. The store “doubles” your coupon. You now have $2 discount on a $2 box of cereal, making it free.

    As for buying multiples, well, how often are Cheerios on sale for $2? If you know you will go through 1 box of Cheerios per week, why not buy 52 boxes of Cheerios, use 52 coupons, and pay nothing for your year of breakfast cereal?

    I grew up doing a moderate version of couponing. I haven’t done it in ages but may start attempting a modified version of it again, given that coupons in Australia totally suck, by comparison. If you’re not particular about what you buy, you wind up with a lot of processed crap. But you can also wind up with specials on long-life products like bottled drinks, condiments, laundry supplies, toiletries, etc. As long as you have the time and the storage space, it can be a good thing to stockpile some items, though probably not to the extreme of many of these folks :)

  6. Sian permalink
    March 27, 2012 3:13 am

    I am not sure what show you were watching but the extreme couponing show i watched made sense to me and I live in Australia, which, as stated before, doesn’t have anything like this type of couponing. I mean, our coupons don’t even have barcodes and have fun things like ‘one per customer’ policy. That would make for a very long checkout trip if you went EXTREME.

    Maybe I have only seen the more recent episodes where they explain it more and I have also seen a few (5-6) so they show you a variety of different types of extreme couponing. Some people do it to donate, some people do it to get the best bargain, some people shop for the 6 months to a year’s needs and some people just shop for what they need that week. But i did get the idea that since the word is out the manufacturers and stores might make it harder as there is a bigger demand.

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