Couponing crazy or Crazy couponer?

3 May

Like so many others, I have been watching the new TLC series “Extreme Couponing” with both fascination and disgust. I was originally inspired by the one hour special to try a now failed coupon experiment but now I’m just…well, I don’t know what I am. I think I’m just confused.

I get the allure of coupons, I really do. If you use them properly you really can save a ton of money. But the amount of time, energy and space that these women waste  spend on their coupons is insane! Yet for some reason, I keep watching.

When I’m done with each episode, I dissect it in my head (and sometimes out loud, with my husband), going over the merits and downfalls of each couponer (and, for the record, the word is pronounced “coo-pon”. This “cue-pon” nonsense drives me batty) and her strategy. There are some who I’ve decided are coupon crazy for a valid reason, like the woman who has a husband that only works seasonally and then there are some–most, really–who I’ve decided are just straight-up crazy. I’m also failing to realize the difference between some of these couponers and some of the featured guests on another favorite show of mine, “Hoarders”. So, I’ve invented a little list to help me differentiate:

  • If you buy 62 bottles of mustard even though no one in your house eats mustard but you have a coupon, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If an entire shower stall is filled to the ceiling with toilet paper and your family of 7 only has 1 functional shower, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If you’ve had to build an entire room for toothpaste, you’re  probably a hoarder
  • If you’ve spent money installing a specialized storage shelf in your garage to house all of your canned goods, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If you rummage through garbage or steal from other people’s driveways just to get more coupons, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If your coupon binder weighs more than you do, not only are you probably a hoarder but you also need to eat a sandwich
  • If your husband breaks into a sweat hauling your purchases into the house because you went into coupon overdrive, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If you buy 3 years worth of diapers for a child you have not even conceived, you’re probably a hoarder
  • If your stockpile can take you through the year 2485, you’re probably a hoarder (on separate yet similar note, a stockpile that  is organized, meticulous and “beautiful” does not mean it is not akin to hoarding).

    This is not normal. This is hoarding.


Please don’t get me wrong. I am all for having a stockpile and using coupons. It does help save money and get you through when times are tough. I also understand that many of these couponers donate their items, and that’s a great thing. But what this show is doing is detrimental to people who, quite frankly, use coupons like normal, sane people. It’s putting out there a misconception of those who are frugal and are careful to plan their shopping trips around sale prices and match coupons to those prices and purchase a reasonable quantity of food/hygiene items (I don’t care what anyone says, 800 packages of hot dogs is not a reasonable quantity. Unless you are feeding every player in Major League Baseball at once).

I realize that TLC is purposefully sensationalizing the people on this show. I realize that TLC is trying to make a point about using coupons and how, if you’re meticulous enough, you can save mad money with coupons. I also realize that the featured couponers on the show are edited to look crazier than they are. But the stockpiles speak for themselves. And what they say to me is “I’m one shopping trip away from Hoarders”.

That is not healthy.


13 Responses to “Couponing crazy or Crazy couponer?”

  1. Mrs. C May 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I Love this post! I just saw a few minutes of the show the other day and I was astonished! I spend about an hour a week planning our meals based on the sale adds, THEN I check to see if I have a corresponding coupon. Right now, I am eating up the $10 off of $50 and have gotten pretty good at making $50 trips. I think my list are a bit ridiculous but in then end it is just smart to have a plan and my method eliminates waste and using a coupon just because I have one. As for the people on the show, I think at what point is your time more valuable than a coupon. There is a line between frugal and smart and crazy. At times I may walk the line but I haven’t crossed it, yet. I would seriously rather spend time with my family, or serving than dumpster diving to save a few dollars on something I have 200 of! Still, there are certain things I refuse to buy without a coupon 😉

    • theemptykitchen May 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

      mrs. c, i think i know you pretty well and you are nothing at all like these crazies. you coupon in a rational, normal person way. i think they could learn a little from you!

      • Mrs. C May 3, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

        Awe thanks! I do stock pile as best I can. It really helps us balance out the slim months of Summer when sales are down. Pasta is $0.49 this week and I will buy about a months worth! I think your list is an accurate gage and the show is called “extreme” for that reason. Great Post!

  2. Sarah May 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    i agree, but i’ve never seen the show. i do coupon & do plan our meals around the sales/coupons i have…however, i must say that i would LOVE to build extra shelving into a future house for a stockpile. would i take over a bathroom to store TP? no. but if i had space and could build extra storage for a stockpile and obtain said stockpile in a legitimate fashion (i.e. not emptying the shelves) then i woud.

    • theemptykitchen May 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

      there is nothing wrong with having extra shelving to hold a stockpile. i have a few shelves in my garage for a stockpile. but one woman had a custom build shelving unit that automatically rotates her cans for her. that, to me, is way too much.

  3. Melissa's Meanderings May 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I have never seen the show but your post was hilarious. There has to be a line where frugality yields to insanity. Luckily I shall never find that line since I can’t afford to quit my job to make the time required for this level of couponing!

    • theemptykitchen May 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      that line is definitely blurred with these people. a lot of them don’t work so they make couponing their jobs, which i do understand. but what is sacrificed (besides rational, sane thoughts about frugality)? time with kids, husbands/boyfriends?

      i don’t think it’s worth it.

  4. JEngelland May 4, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I prefer Ron (tater salad) White’s pronunciation of coupon: coo-pun.


    • theemptykitchen May 4, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      now i’m going to have to go back and watch ron white. i never picked up on that!

      • JEngelland May 6, 2011 at 8:44 am #

  5. Sarah and Jenny @Digging Out of Debt May 5, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    You hit the nail on the head with this. Like you, I can’t stop watching, but it makes me insane! What got me was the 24-year-old single woman who bought 50+ bottles of Maalox … because it was a good deal. What??? The majority of these people are most definitely hoarders. And I sure would hate to be trying to shop an hour behind them – there would be nothing left!


    • theemptykitchen May 5, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      the maalox confused me, too. is it a secret ingredient in her recipes? does hoarding cause indigestion?

      i really wish i could sit down with some of these people and ask them questions!

    • Amy July 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      I agree that the show is extreme and some of the people are a little ridiculous. I do coupon pretty heavily since my boyfriend and I both got laid off and need to pay the bills. I have a stockpile in the sense that my cabinets are full to the brim but I won’t allow it to take over any other part of my house. It’s almost a feeling of security to know that if I can’t shop for a few weeks or probably even a month because of other bills, we still have everything we need in the house. I would say on average I spend about 30 dollars on a hundred dollar shopping trip if I buy a lot of meat that trip. I don’t clear shelves and I agree that’s just silly and also…why would you want every space in your home filled with food and toilet paper?

      That being said, I will buy significant amounts of items that I can’t get coupons and sales for all too often, such as my cats food (I think they need a diet). I also will buy larger quantities from time to time when something is free and I can donate it to a food pantry in the area. I know why I’m couponing and I know there may be others out there in an even worse place, so I do what I can.

      On a sidenote, the guy with the room for toothpaste, had all that toothpaste so that it could be sent out in as part of care packages for troops.

      I think couponers have gotten a bad rap because of that show to some extent…

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