Extreme Couponing: Stockpiling vs. Hoarding

We’ve had a lot of discussions about TLC’s Extreme Couponing on Facebook lately!  A few weeks ago, I posted here and asked “Is TLC’s Extreme Couponing ruining it for legit couponers?” One of the second most frequent topics that seems to come up is whether “extreme couponers” are hoarders.  While some seem to walk a fine line between stockpiling and hoarding, I think there are a lot of “stockpilers” who are now being referred to as “hoarders” because of the way that couponers are portrayed on this show.

Personally, I think it’s OK to have a stockpile.  I know that some people say you only need a stockpile of items for our family for 2-3 months, but I personally am trying to build a stockpile for a year of both household and non-perishable grocery items.  We have been through two different rounds of unemployment over the past nine years and I can tell you that having a stockpile is part of what saved us because we were able to use what we had.  Stockpiling also helps me save money on a regular basis as I rotate through food that we have on hand and use it to plan meals.

Here’s my “take” on the difference between stockpiling and hoarding:

Stockpilers have a “plan” – Stockpilers know what their family needs and buy according to those needs.  They buy products that their family will use on a regular basis and have a plan for rotating the products that they have “stockpiled” into every day use.  For example, when planning my meals each week, I look at what we have “on hand” and what’s on sale in the grocery ads and use a combination of the two to plan my meals, which helps me to spend less money out of pocket overall.  I wait until the next big sale and then I stock up again on those items that we use regularly.  Stockpilers also understand sale cycles and know which items to stock up on during certain times of the year.

Hoarding, by definition, is the acquisition of possessions, and the failure to use or discard them.  So, hoarders buy items just for the sake of buying and have no real plan to use them and in fact, may become very territorial about using the items or letting anyone else use the items.  For example:  Does anyone really need 100 bottles of ketchup, mustard, or BBQ sauce just because it was “free”?  Do you really need 100 bags of dog or cat treats if you don’t have a dog?

Stockpilers are organized – Stockpilers are organized.  They are careful about checking expiration dates, buy what they can use in a reasonable amount of time and they rotate their items according to expiration date.  If they can’t use something in a reasonable amount of time, they donate it!

Hoarders have bags and bins everywhere and have no idea when any of it expires.   They buy for the thrill of “buying” (or getting items for free) but don’t have a plan to use it.  Having all that “stuff” gives them a sense of security.  They may have shelves and some sort of organization, but they still don’t have a plan to actually use it and continue to buy, buy, buy items they don’t really need while the items sit there and expire, expire, expire.  They hang on to items because you never know what might happen down the road (you may have a baby, you may get a pet, etc.). They also try to justify their “hoarding” behavior.  For example, “Everyone uses paper products and they don’t go bad” even though they have a supply of paper products that more than exceeds what the average family could use in a reasonable amount of time or “But it was free.”

Stockpilers are not afraid to share – Stockpilers are charitable.  They are not afraid to share their tips for getting items for free or close to free with others and they love sharing items from their stockpile with those in need, too.  About twice a year, we have a youth group from a local church that goes on a “service scavenger hunt” for specific household and non-perishable items.  I love the look on their faces when I can provide them with several bags of items on their list!

Hoarders don’t want to share what they have with anyone, but are proud to share the number of items they have acquired.  They may actually feel panic set in or become irritable if someone actually suggests that they share some of the items they have acquired with others.

What are your thoughts?  Does the show Extreme Couponing promote true stockpiling or does it promote hoarding?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


  1. I completely agree. While I like watching the show, I’m flabbergasted seeing people buy 100 candy bars, 10 bottles of sports drinks & 100 bottles of headache medicine. Some people definitely go overboard! But I am encouraged by the ones who have a plan & donate their excess.

  2. I agree with your definitions completely. That sums it up very well.

  3. Felicita says:

    AMEN!!! I so agree!! I have a baby stockpile that I am trying to build up and I do the EXACT same thing you do!! I make meal plans according to what I have and when sales come along (especially the 10/$10 I stock up then) I am amazed to see the selfishness people have, like buying 100 razors, and clearing the shelves left and right.

  4. So out of control!! I do have a nice stockpile but not out of control & I share with my 2 married boys. I love to help them out!! Oh buy the way , I do believe they are ruining it for us & it started with Kroger’s & no more stacked coupons. So sad!!!

  5. Alicia Webster says:

    I think that we, as a society, should go back to minding our own business, and stop worrying about what other people do or don’t do in their homes. I love to watch the Extreme Couponers work their magic, and my advice to those who don’t is to stop watching it. Also, if it upsets people to look at someone’s overflowing pantry, then look the other way. I am not sure why some people think that their way is the right way, and everyone else is wrong. Really conceited if you ask me. I am not an extreme couponer, nor do I have a stockpile, but I don’t begrudge anyone who does. Whether someone gets hundreds of candy bars to donate to charity, or to consume themselves one right after the other is, I repeat, not our business. They are not stealing, they are having fun, and the stores are aware of what they do, and have not stopped them–in other words, no one is harmed. It reminds me of the nitwits who picket McDonald’s. Same principle, people, if you don’t like something, don’t do it, but stop trying to impose your morality on others.


  1. […] looking like it’s going to be another great week for building your stockpile!  This week, you can get FREE Arrid deodorant at […]

  2. Meltwater Trend Watch: Couponing and Social Media | Meltwater Blog says:

    […] the people in the check-out line and the stock-pilers on A&E, we’re seeing the trend go mainstream. From CBS’s hit show, 2 Broke Girls to the […]