DINKS Reality: Extreme Couponing

by Kristina on April 27, 2011 · 7 comments

Last week I saw this show on TLC called Extreme Couponing and I couldn’t believe it so I have to share.

Extreme couponing is a show about extreme shopping and extreme saving.  I was in awe about the amount of effort and energy that people will spend to save a dollar. I couldn’t help but think that if people put the same amount of energy into their career that they put into saving with coupons, they could afford to buy the items they want.

The first extreme coupon story was about a woman who collected 500 coupons per week. She recently relocated her family to a new town and moved 1000 lbs of food.  She had an entire separate house for her food.  Some of us would better use this space as a garage or a guest house, but this woman used it for her surplus of food.  I say that her food inventory is a surplus because they are a one child family; she does not need 1000 lbs of food to continuously feed only 3 people.

Every year in the US we throw away $37 million in coupons.  This woman didn’t feel that all of this free money should go to waste so she searches through dumpsters and other people’s garbage to find her treasure in the form of coupons.

At any given time she has a book of over 4000 coupons.  The book weighs 8 lbs and is divided into 36 categories.  As I was watching the crazy saving antics of Extreme Couponing I couldn’t help but realize that this woman is actually wasting money, not saving money.  When we buy in surplus we may be saving physical money but we are still spending money on things that we don’t need.  Are we really saving money if we are spending unnecessarily?

This woman started extreme couponing and stock piling when her husband lost his job. They didn’t have money to buy groceries so they had to live off of their reserve; the family soon found they hungry and starving for food. Now the woman shops for and stockpiles thousands of pounds of food in case she ever has the need to live off her reserve again.  I know that we should learn from our financial mistakes, but this takes learning to a whole new level, it becomes an obsession.

This extreme couponing woman says that an item comes on sale an average of every 3 months. Therefore she buys 3 months supply of any one item so that she doesn’t need to buy it again until it goes back on sale.  While they were grocery shopping the woman told her son that he couldn’t have Spiderman Candy because it wasn’t on sale. I found this heartbreaking to watch because a child should not have to sacrifice something due to their parent’s obsessive habits.

If this woman spent her days at work earning an annual income instead of dumpster diving for coupons she could afford to buy her son some candy.  I understand that everyone wants to save money but should saving become an obsession?

Extreme Couponing is not only a show about saving money with coupons.  This woman has an entire shopping strategy which includes using young male cashiers when she checks out because they are more understanding about her massive quantity of coupons.

In this episode of Extreme Couponing the original grocery bill was $638.64.   After the cashier deducted all of the coupons the woman had a total cost of only $2.64. She had a 98% savings thanks to coupons. Would you (could you) use coupons to save over $600?

(Photo by dmdonahoo)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frugalapolis April 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

There are a lot of couponers out there and its really not that hard to get 90% savings with a couple hours work. I just saved $161 at the store last night, spent $6.88 but my order included a $10 GC to absorb my overage – so I got paid to shop. This is my plan and I actually make money from the grocery store every month, so my household supplies and groceries are free and have been for years – freeing up $$ for travel and fun. Anyway, to the extreme couponers it is probably an addictive thing and they can’t stop the hunt and they get out of hand. Believe me it is easy to get hooked on the savings. But that TLC show is not reality, most couponers are just regular people trying to save money where they can.

2 Nicole April 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I couldn’t. There aren’t coupons for fresh fruits and veggies, meat, and minimally processed foods (well, there are but not many).

I won’t sacrifice my health to buy a bunch of junk “food.”

3 Kristina April 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Frugalapolis – it’s good to know that everyday regular shoppers can save too on their everyday purchases.

Nicole – you make an excellent point, it’s true that coupons are usually for snacks and processed food. However, houshold items such as paper towels, toilet paper, and dish soap are also often on sale with coupons.

4 Nicole April 28, 2011 at 7:36 am


I totally agree. And I use coupons to buy those things. I even get the occasional coupon for healthier food (I had a Kashi one last week). I just couldn’t save nearly the percentage the women on these shows do.

5 Kristina April 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I also don’t understand how someone can get so many of the same item on sale. Aren’t coupons and in store sales limited to a certain number of items? I always see sales in my pharmacy or grocery store that limit clients to 4 sale items per customer.

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