TLC’s Extreme Couponing: Five reasons why I will be boycotting this season!

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 


  1. I agree with you totally and actually haven’t stepped foot in a Kroger (which was my favorite store before) since they changed their coupon policy. I watched an episode a couple weeks ago with a lady who used coupons on little teeny travel size boxes of cereal because the coupon didn’t specify a size on it. I understand the coupon didn’t specify so it wasn’t really wrong to do that, especially on a few boxes, but she bought hundreds of boxes, enough to give her $300 of overage on other items she was buying. I definitely wouldn’t feel honest about doing that.


      I know it don’t make it right…. but there is people out there that have found loup holes in the system…. I live in Imperial Valley California 25 minutes from the Mexican Boarder and I see alot of people that live here in the United States drive brand new cars and have mexican plates, just so they don’t have to pay high registration prices. They get away with it cause they have found a loup hole in the system. I have been couponing for one year and it’s hard to coupon here where I live…..

  2. Love this! Right on, I agree with you 1000%

  3. Stephanie Hirsch says:

    AGREED…wholeheartedly! I took it off my DVR, I just get mad when I watch it. Plus now, I’m having to deal with the repercussions of the show. Stores are doing away with double couponing because of it, they are no longer accepting paper coupons, etc. Its actually been kind of ridiculous. And I’m sorry, but even 50 of something, is too much…especially when coupons almost ALWAYS regenerate in a few months. =S

  4. I agree 100%! The show isn’t realistic and it puts a big red X on all of the HONEST couponers out there. It also puts the brakes on be who try to buy 100 items at a time to donate due to “LIMITS.” I wonder how many extreme couponers really spend 5 hours at the check out? Just because they have to have their 1,000 toothbrushes but their coupon says Limit 4 Like Coupons in one transaction? That’s 250 Transactions!

    I also agree that stockpiling is NOT HOARDING! We ALL HIT ROUGH TIMES. If it wasn’t for a stockpile some people would go hungry. When season 1 aired I was so excited, I had to “TUNE” in. Well after watching the series where the one lady committed coupon fraud. I didn’t watch Extreme Couponing anymore. I STILL REFUSE TO WATCH IT TODAY! I honestly don’t think stores would have changed coupon policies, and Manufacturers change the wording printed on coupons.

  5. I just want to say that I have seen it done with my own eyes from a total of 395.00 dollars before coupon and the total after was 17.85 dollars. It really does work. I also would like to point out that the stores actually gets money for customers using coupons. So the cashiers and the rest of the employees are not mad. As for calling it hoarding have you seen hoarders that is not hoarding. If you will use it or donate it or sell it then its not hoarding.

    • Debbi – I have definitely been able to save large amounts using coupons. Whether or not you can save using coupons isn’t the issue. What IS the issue is that the shows featured on the show typically “bend” their coupon policies for the show. If you filled three cart loads, do you honestly think the store would stop everything to provide extra employees to help move your carts around the store? Lowe’s Foods openly admitted to bending their policies for a show last season and said they regretted it afterward. Also, many stores have limits on the number of coupons you can use in a transaction or the number of “like” coupons you can use in a transaction but have bent those rules for the show. This is why I’m saying it’s not realistic.

      You can actually get in huge trouble for buying items to re-sell if you don’t have a business license, so if you are doing this regularly, you may want to look into it. The stores do get reimbursed, but buying things to sell or even donate when you don’t need them and clearing shelves so there is nothing for others is unethical in my opinion, but we are certainly all entitled to our opinions.

      As for hoarding, buying massive quantities of items that you do not need and cannot use and NOT donating them is most definitely hoarding. One episode featured women who had shelves and shelves full of diapers and they had no kids and were not expecting!! Another episode featured people who a huge stockpile of dog food and no pets!

    • Debbie, no one is sayin saving large amounts of money with coupons is unrealistic. What Melissa is saying is that the way transactions are portrayed on the show is what’s unrealistic. I think its wrong to go to a store and take over 10 of the same item UNLESS there is a lot more of the item in stock. The most I’ll buy of one thing is 20 and that is going to 2 different stores. Hording means different things to everyone… No one likes to be called a hoarder. But if you have a family of 4or5 why do you need 100 tubes of toothpaste? Plan to have a stockpile ranging 6 to 18months…. Not a whole decade! Thanks for your post Melissa!

    • Shirlene McGuire says:

      I have only watched this show a few times because it is hording. People that allow themselves to have more food than a small store do have a problem. The time I saw a lady making room in her young daughter’s room I had to say enough is enough! The little girl had to share her place for her toys with her mom’s stockpile. That is teaching a really poor lesson. I agree with having a stock pile, make a little room even but have it set up where you can see what you have. I usually save 25 to 30 %. I would love to save more but I find my time and my husband’s time since he does a great deal of the shopping also is worth more than the savings. We did a huge shopping trip this weekend in fact when to a store every day! We had the time and there were some great sales and we had some great coupons. We are stocked up very nicely for the summer and will not go shopping again except for fresh foods such as milk, fruit, etc. I will save my coupons and if I see something on one of my sites that alerts me to a great savings I will drop by if possible but I am not in real need of anything so I would rather be enjoying my family then filling closets with food. Nothing wrong with stockpiling as long as you have a personal limit on how much is enough.

  6. Also, to clarify on the hoarding issue, please check out my explanation of stockpiling vs. hoarding here –> I clearly say that if you have a plan (either to use or donate), you are organized, and you’re willing to share, that is not hoarding. I have a stockpile myself which has helped us through two rounds of unemployment in our household and I also donate items regularly. I’m not clearing shelves to do this, but if I can get toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for free, I will pick up a few and if I already have plenty in my stockpile, I can donate to others. It is getting much more difficult, though, to even buy one or two items just for my personal stockpile due to shelf clearers.

  7. I totally agree with you the show is unrealistic also I do not know about where you are from but here in SC if you go into lets say Bi-Lo that doubles the coupons and an item is on sell for .99 and the coupon is a .60 coupon there for if it was doubled it would be 1.20 which would give you a .19 overage the store does not give overage it will only go to the amt of the item which would make the product free but not go over the amt of the product total. I do not know why, because I have tried to get overages before at several different stores and never can. But that is just my experience. Also to go from $1,000’s of dollars down to $3-$20 is not possible they are fudging the system some way and if I have to cheat and screw the system then I do not want it. Also a lot of these ladies use expired coupons and now the dates on the coupons are getting shorter and shorter.. I use to love doing them but now companies have found out what we do and how we do it so they make it nealy impossible to get that great of a deal anymore 🙁

  8. I agree with all of this completely, and have also read that a few of the stores featured on the show disregarded their coupon policies for the sake of television! I don’t remember the episode, but something was on sale for 49 cents and there was a 50 cent coupon that doubled, allowing the shopper to buy 50 and make $25. The store openly admitted that they do not allow that on normal occasions! So annoying!

  9. I agree 100% with what you say. I started couponing bout a year before the show aired. It really helped cause we had a new baby & I lost my job when she was 1 month old. Now she’s 3 years old & I’m unemployed again because she was constantly sick when she started daycare @ 18 months. My stockpile has finally worn out & I’ve tried to rebuild it, but with this show now it’s hard to find coupons like I could before. I think sometimes I end up spending more on the coupons that it’s worth & my area only has 1 pack of coupons a week even when there are 4 inserts. It’s really disappointing to see how things have changed. I used to order my coupons from a clipping service, but it went out of business after this show started due to the increase in their costs for inserts. Before I could buy my inserts for the same price I was paying for my papers & got double the coupons i was getting here. I’ve never really been a shelf clearer. I had a friend that worked @ Walgreens & if there was something I wanted in a large quantity they would order it for me if I requested it. I’ve given tons of items to family/friends that were free & we were able to share because they were struggling as well. I find now that my daughter’s older it’s easier most times to go in the store just to buy a few things that we need for the week than when she was an infant & slept thru most my shopping trips. I have gotten away from couponing & want to do it again, but I get discouraged by the amount of “work” that I have to put into it sometimes because I have a full time job as a wife & mother of 2 & the rewards aren’t as great as before.

  10. I got to tell you, it is because of this show that i started to coupon. I thought it was so cool to be able to get alot of stuff for free, that i found out this show did a lot of things to make sure the people on the show get things for free. I have gotten a few things free during my shopping trips but not my whole list. However my last shopping trip i did save alot of money. It was at Alberstons The total for everything before great deal savings, promotional savings, MFG coupons and store coupons was 310.75 now after all that stuff was taking off the total went down to 184.26. So it does work but i only do this every two-three months and that is when my stockpile is getting low. I stop watching the show just because the people started to annoy me.

  11. Kiley P. says:

    I agree with this post 100%

  12. Where the heck did the college kid on the fisrt episode get the cereal coupons for $6.50 off one bag ????????? I buy that cereal and the best and only coupon I have ever seen is one for $1.50 off 3 bags. This show sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Kirsten says:

    I agree big time with what you are saying! When the Krogers in my area changed store police it hurt me. You see I dont just shop for myself I shop for a couple of collage kids to help them save money. Now I have to make trips out to my car and back to get what I use to check out with in one order. Also I help my food pantry in my town. Now that I can’t get things in one trans. it makes it hard for me to get things they are in need of. I’m just glad that the managers let me go out to my car and back to get things. Also if I have to explan to one more person that the show is not true life I think I will scream!!!!! (Even tho they are nice about it, it really just gets to me.) I find myself shopping at 12 am to just get away from ppl talking or saying bad things about us couponers. Well this is a little about how it has hurt me.

  14. I agree too!! Here in az , stores only double first 3 coupons, & never give overage! If the products worth .60 they value the coupon for .60 & after first 3 , they value at face coupon .25 at .25 , that s why when saw a program ! a woman on kroger az, i knew it , it wasnt real or at least not in az

  15. Cbsirote says:

    I too agree w/you Melissa that extreme couponing hurts other shoppers that only want to buy maybe 4-5 items of the same brand. I’ve stoppeed watching that show because to me most of the people they show on their to me are hoarders. They showed one woman that has a room just to store her coupons. What woman out their does that. To me that is crazy. Not only does she have a room just to store her coupons, I think she had opened a door and had over 100 bottles of soda stocked from floor to ceiling. My husband couldn’t believe that. I to can’t believe that these type of women that go through a store and clear out shelves say “oh well too bad”. They are the ones that are making it harder for us small coupon people like myself. I was told by an Albertson’s that I couldn’t use my computerized coupon for 1 free thing that I was buying. I was told to read their coupon policies.
    I also believe that these extreme couponizers are comitting fraud all he time and they are the ones that are hurting it for us small time coupon people like myself.
    I believe with your post 100%.

  16. Wow, I never heard of making money off of coupons..overages? Here (in Canada) a coupon doesn’t have a monetary value can reduce the price of the item, but if the value of the coupon is higher than the price of the item, you don’t get the difference back..I would never have even considered trying that. I’ve only seen one or two episodes of the show and I don’t really coupon much because Canada doesn’t really have great coupons and for the most part, I don’t find it worth my time..but I agree with your post. I hate seeing so much hoarding..yes, a stockpile is one thing..but hundreds of items you don’t need just because it was cheap? It isn’t saving money if you’re spending money on something you don’t need. That’s addiction and greed.

  17. Paula W says:

    I see a lot of bloggers saying they will boycott the show, which is fine. But my question is didn’t most of these blogs start because of the popularity of this show and the increase of couponers due to the show? I have been using coupons for 5 years and the amount of bloggers and Facebook pages for coupons has increased greatly. I can almost guarantee this increased interest is from the extreme coupon shows.

    • Paula – there are certainly a number of blogs which have started as a result of the Extreme Couponing Show. I started couponing more than 8 years ago when my first daughter was born and started my blog in October 2008 to share my deals with friends and family and to teach them how to get the deals themselves. That was long before Extreme Couponing came about (more than 2 years). I see the huge changes that have come since the show started and it makes me so sad!

  18. Well Said.

  19. Andrea Waters says:

    IMHO, people need to be realistic about t.v. Yes all shows are sensationalized for ratings purposes. That’s what it is all about for them, a ratings game. This show isn’t ruining anything. The show is getting people out there to realize there is a way in this economy to help your family survive. And lastly no this is not hoarding.hoarding is collecting items yes but mostly things that have been used and NEVER could be used again, such as trash, filth ect. Bloggers are benefiting from this show, if your smart you have your blog set up w/things such as adwords that create revenue for u, amongst other things like affiliate programs. So for bloggers such as yourself to “boycott” this show, completely baffles me. And yes you said u blogged before the show started but Im guessing traffic to your site and followers rose greatly when the coupon craze started.

    • Andrea – I did not start my blog to make money. I started my blog to help others learn to use coupons (legitimately) and to learn to save money. I coupon to save money for my family and I have a stockpile for the same reasons. I am boycotting this show because it goes against everything I believe in (helping others save money by using coupons legitimately). If you think that Extreme Couponing showing shelf clearing and blatant coupon fraud is not hurting things for legitimate couponers, you are mistaken. I have been couponing for 8 years (long before extreme couponing came along). In the past two years since Extreme Couponing started, stores have tightened their coupon policies and continue to tighten them. I used to have cashiers congratulate me when I used coupons and went to check out. Now they give me the evil eye and scrutinize every coupon. I remember when you could use BOGO free coupons with a BOGO free store promotion to get 2 items for free. Most stores no longer allow that. I remember when Crest coupons were $1 off. Now they are $.25 and there is a limit of 4 per transaction. These are just a few examples of how extreme couponing has hurt couponing for everyday couponers. By the way, using fake coupons and committing coupon fraud hurts businesses because they lose money, which means increased prices, which hurts all of us in the long run. There were multiple instances of coupon fraud on last night’s episode:

      I don’t know how long you have been watching the show, but buying hundreds of bags of diapers, dog treats, etc. when you don’t have a baby or a pet and just letting them sit on shelves sounds like hoarding to me? Hoarding, by definition, is the acquisition of possessions, and the failure to use or discard them. If you are gathering a bunch of items you don’t need and are not using them or donating them, you are hoarding them.

  20. I stopped watching this show in the 1st because of how unrealistic it is. I live in the Phoenix metro area and we have several of the major grocery chains to choose from. NONE of them allow you to use more than 3 coupons on a single item per transaction and haven’t for at least 5 years!!! This show has forced the stores to become coupon Nazis and made it a lot harder on all of us out here simply trying to save a buck!!
    Besides, who the heck wants 500 candy bars!!!

  21. Well said.

  22. I agree with a lot of what’s being said here and I disagree with some. The coupons we have been getting in my area (Wyoming) have been getting less and less. In quantity and in value. It kind of stinks, but I still do whatever I can to save. I have quite a stockpile of necessities and only shop every couple months. As far as the savings and stuff in the show well of course they’re exaggerated, it’s tv! Do you think that people on the “reality” shows like Lost & survivor really have to find their way out of nowhere eating nothing but bugs and twigs lol Get real, they’re putting a front on for the camera and then they’ve probably got big fat steaks catered in. So the same can be expected for the coupon shows and the talent shows and all. Just keep up to date on your stores coupon policies and make sure you’re following the rules. I don’t like that they took away our twice the value coupons for albertsons in the Wyoming and Montana area but it really didn’t affect me horribly anyways. It was way too big of a pain in the rear to use them on a large purchase because you could only use 3 per transaction and could only do 2 transactions each time thru the checkout. So if you wanted to buy say 30 products using the ttv coupons, you would have to go through the checkouts 5 separate times. I didn’t think this was worth it. I like to get in and get done & out in as little time as possible. What I couldn’t understand was how these women in the show could spend hours each day cutting and filing coupons. How horrible would that be?! I spend a couple hours cutting, sorting, filing, and making my lists. I have a very meticulous system with how I organize my coupons and shopping lists, and even on a very large haul I can be in and out of the store in under 2 hours. Did a huge trip at my local albertsons, got about $1100 and 4 carts of groceries for under $400. One of my biggest hauls yet! I couldn’t spend 6 or 8 hours in the grocery store if my life depended on it!!! I am busy and don’t have time for that nonsense lol I wouldn’t be surprised if the show starts to fizzle out due to people not watching & ratings going down, and then maybe our coupons will start to get a little better and us “small town” couponers can continue to do what we do since we don’t get near the coupons that most do in the bigger cities. Although maybe the big cities are following suit & cutting down their coupons too. Either way, once the new really wears off and the ridiculous shows ratings start to fall then I’m sure there will be changes. Happy couponing everyone!!!

  23. I agree with you 100%. I am not an extreme couponer but I do use coupons. The last time I was in Walmart, I got the evil eye as soon as I took out my coupons and the cashier told me that it was a “new policy” that I put each coupon on top of each item I am purchasing. I have NEVER had to do that before. He said that it was because of people coming in with binders and arguing about each transaction. This is their new policy. The show is having a negative effect on the usage of coupons and stores are changing their policies to make it tougher to save. That show needs to be taken off the air!

  24. Glad to see I’m not alone on the negative impact of this show! As a single mom of four, I’ve been couponing for over 20 yrs. Since this show came out there has been a huge impact on coupon values (ie $1 off 2 boxes instead of 1 box) as well as the amount of coupons offered in the sunday paper which has also increased in price from $2 to$3. If that weren’t enough I have always enjoyed not holding up the checkout lines and the ability to be able to more closely monitor my coupons by using the uscan checkout however now I am treated like a potential criminal who can’t be trusted to scan her own coupons! I can see the other side though If I were being publicly humiliated I’d be offended too. Bottom line, please make this show go away!

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