Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extreme Couponing: Believe it or not?

Talk about extreme couponing has been floating around for the last several years.  I'll have to admit, when I first heard about the TLC show, Extreme Couponing, I was kind of excited to watch it and learn some tips even though I regularly used coupons when shopping already.  What I learned was that for the show, extreme couponing was sometimes "made" and that it is not very practical. 

After being amazed by the families on the show saving 90% on their groceries, I started to look into their methods.  One family had about 4 or 5 upright and chest freezers to save all of their frozen food finds.  Another family dedicated their entire garage to their stock pile.  Where do they keep their tools and cars? 

I also recognized one of the grocery store chains on an episode.  After watching the shopper hand off 50 of the same coupon in amazement, I started to look into why she was able to do that.  See, most grocery stores have a coupon policy on the amount of same coupons you can use in one shopping trip.  My favorite local store only allows 5 of the same coupons for the exact same product.  So why could this shopper use 50?  As it turns out, the store allowed her to use all the coupons in the same trip for the show recording only.  They allowed her to use 50 coupons just to benefit the show! 

Now where does one get 50 of the same coupons?  Probably printed off from a website or from Sunday coupon circulars which would possible mean 50 Sunday newspapers.  Most coupon websites only allow 2 prints of the coupons per computer.  So you would need 25 computers to print them out unless you were really savvy in tricking the coupons to print over and over.  I know that these people did not purchase 50 Sunday papers.  That would be more than $50 in newspapers.  So the best answer is that they purchased the coupons from a couponing service, dumpster dived, or others sources to gain that many of the same coupon. 

Extreme couponing is just that - extreme.  The store I shop regularly would ask me to do several different transactions to use 50 coupons or ask that I come back another day. I also didn't see me buying more than one deep freezer.  Having frozen pizzas on hand is nice, but I don't need 50 of them sitting around...and I really don't need that many tubes of toothpaste.  Though I’m not below grabbing a Sunday paper from the top of a trash can if I happen to notice it, I will not take the time to dig through people’s trash.  And cutting out that many coupons every week would be a full-time job - 40 to 50 hours!

With extreme couponing debunked and my store savings of 90% out the window, is couponing still worth it?  Absolutely!

It is still possible to eat well and save money on groceries with a little time investment.  A more practical approach to coupons would be about 2-3 hours spent in meal planning, store match ups, and coupon clipping.  The savings would be closer to 50% off.  With the rise of grocery and food costs, I would say it is definitely worth it.

Start by finding a good savings blog like Bargain Blessings (great one for Colorado residents) or another one on DealPros to help you with matching coupons to store sales and invest in a major local paper for coupons (I have two papers delivered to my house).  Then find an area of your home that you can store a modest amount of food on items you find at great prices (when you find something for free, you might as well buy as many as you can).  Start investing a couple of hours every week in meal planning and coupon clipping for only the week of sales and you are on your way to saving 50% on your groceries and still feeding your family good food!


  1. You should try the Out of Milk App for android or Iphone. I use it for all my shopping and it has saved me tons of time and money. When you make a list it tells you what items are on sale and where and it will also tell you what sites you can get an additional coupon for that item on. :)

    1. I've used Out of Milk for Christmas lists the last couple of years and noticed recently that they now have coupons. I will have to check it out!