The new season of TLC’s Extreme Couponing starts tonight. I have to admit that when the first season aired, I was intrigued! I’ve been “couponing” for almost 8 years now and I understand that thrill of getting things for free and even getting paid to take items out of the store. The problem is that TLC’s Extreme Couponing is so extreme that has led to a number of changes that have negatively impacted couponers.
Here are five reasons why I will be boycotting TLC’s Extreme Couponing this season:
1. It’s not realistic – I’ve been using coupons “heavily” for about four years now and in that time have been connected to fellow “couponers” on message boards across the country. Most people, even “heavy” couponers (at least none that I know) spend hours preparing for a grocery trip, a few more hours at the actual grocery store, and then another hour or so at check-out. That’s a full day’s work!
Also, I don’t know any grocery stores in my area that would allow someone to have carts and carts full of items that equated to one transaction. I can assure you that the employees at my stores certainly wouldn’t be helping push carts full of toothbrushes and pasta around with smiles on their faces. I once tried to buy six bags of rice that would have been “free after coupon” at a local Kroger store and I was told I could only buy 3 in one transaction. They actually made me go to the customer service desk and ring up my six bags of rice in two separate transactions.
TLC’s Extreme Couponing paints an unrealistic picture for new couponers and leads them to believe you can accumulate a stockpile overnight with little or no effort.
2. They don’t show “the big picture” – I don’t know about you, but my time is as valuable as my money. Sometimes I have to put things in perspective and really ask myself if it’s worth it to spend hours dragging my kids around to various stores just to get free pasta or free deodorant or free toothbrushes. To be honest, for me, free isn’t always free if it means that I have to sacrifice quality time with my family to get it. There’s always a ‘cost’ even if it’s not monetary. So, sometimes I have to say to myself that it’s OK to skip out on a deal and that another one will come along and even if it doesn’t, it’s OK. The show doesn’t adequately portray the amount of time that would be involved with preparing for a shopping trip that is as extreme as what is shown!
The things that they show as being “free” aren’t always really “free” either. When you’re using hundreds of coupons, they have to come from somewhere. I don’t know many people that have that many generous friends, so I’m guessing that they either purchased those coupons from a coupon clipping service or they bought a whole lot of papers. Either way, there’s an “expense” there that isn’t shared.
3. The show encourages illegal activity – J’aime Kirlew, one of the participants on the first episode that aired last season, has been accused of committing coupon fraud because she was using coupons inappropriately. She was using coupons on items that she was not purchasing or on the wrong sizes. In the past few months, there have been increased reports of people stealing newspapers from stores and of people clearing shelves in stores. NOTE: The show doesn’t directly encourage theft of newspapers (at least not to my knowledge), but it’s just part of the hysteria that is a by-product of this show.
4. The show encourages hoarding – Personally, I think it’s OK to have a stockpile. 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. 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. What is portrayed, for the most part, on TLC’s Extreme Couponing is hoarding. For the most part, the people portrayed on the show are buying items they don’t regularly use just to buy them or have stockpiles above and beyond what an average family could use before they hit expiration.
For more on my thoughts about stockpiling vs. hoarding, check out this article here–>Extreme Couponing: Stockpiling vs. hoarding
5. The show gives couponers a bad name – If you’ve been couponing for long, you’ve probably had some of these experiences: the big huge siiiiiiiiiiggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh accompanied by a very sarcastic “great” from the customer behind you in line as you pull out your coupons or the eye roll from the cashier and the “We’re not going to give these to you for free” comments. I like to practice “the Golden Rule” of couponing, which means that I don’t believe in being a shelf clearer. I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve never bought 20, 30, or even 40 boxes of pasta (or other items) when there was a really good sale. But, I will say that I didn’t buy all of those items in one transaction or at one store. I have gone to separate stores or on separate days so that I don’t clear the shelves and so I can stay in the good graces of my stores.
Over the past six months, we have seen major changes to the coupon policies for CVS, Rite Aid, Publix, Target, and Kroger. These are just the stores I’m aware of. In my opinion, these changes to policies have not been “good” for couponers, but I certainly understand why the stores have made these changes. I have also noticed that more coupons are starting to include language that limits the number of coupons that can be used in one transaction and that the value of coupons appears to be decreasing.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is not meant to promote negativity toward the couponers who have been on the show. I know that you can’t always believe everything that you see on the show because “reality shows” often put their own spin on things (again – it’s not really that “realistic”). I know that some of the couponers are great people and actually donate a lot of the items that they purchased on the show. Unfortunately, the producers don’t place nearly as much emphasis on the charitable part of couponing. ! For me, the negative impact that Extreme Couponing has had on couponing is reason enough to boycott the show this season.
Here are some tips for building a stockpile legitimately–>So you want to be an extreme couponer
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more