Extreme Couponing Versus Smart Coupon Use

Just a few coupon inserts.
Just a few coupon inserts.

With TLC's new show Extreme Couponing, people who spend hours and even days doing nothing but finding and clipping coupons and shopping are being highlighted as shopping masterminds. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think about these extreme couponers is "what is the point of that". Think about it. Why does someone need that many sticks of deodorant, boxes of cereal or bags of chips?  Typically going to the extreme isn't a good thing in any endeavor.  I decided to look up the word extreme on Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

Extreme: 1. existing in a very high degree 2. going to great or exaggerated lengths 3. exceeding the ordinary, usual or expected

This definition doesn't make extreme couponing sound very good does it?  I use coupons to save my family money on the products we use, while occasionally picking up the random free item I happen upon to donate to a local food pantry. From what I can tell about these extreme couponers, they are in it to stockpile a massive amount of food, household and toiletry items that will never get used before it goes bad. These people are going to the extreme and hoarding their food. They have entire rooms in their home devoted to their stockpile and some people even have it insured against loss or damage.

Extreme couponers spend an incredible amount of time and energy finding coupons, clipping them, ordering them, matching up the coupons with sales, etc. It is a full time job for some of these people. Why do they do this? They have taken saving money to the extreme. I think they are taking advantage of the stores they shop at, the sites that offer coupons and the manufacturers of all these products. That is going to the extreme - which is not a good thing.

Smart coupon use would be to limit yourself to exactly what your family will consume. Using coupons wisely means to not clear the shelves of products so that nothing is left for others. It is smart to match up coupons with sales to get the best deal for your family. It is extreme to spend several hours obtaining massive quantities of coupons to then spend hours shopping and checking out to then just store these items in your garage until they are past their expiration date. Many extreme couponers don't even use or like the items they are stockpiling. They just do it for the thrill.

One thing the show doesn't take into account is how much coupons cost. While you can't legally sell a coupon, you can sell your time and services to find and clip the coupon. So there are plenty of sites online that you can buy coupons from. It usually costs $0.10-$0.50 per coupon plus the cost of shipping. So while the extreme couponer might be able to get her total down to $7 for hundreds of dollars worth of products, they are not figuring in how much that person spent to order or print coupons. This can increase the total cost significantly, not to mention how much time they are spending on their coupons. I imagine if they got a job they would make more money than they "save" per hour of couponing.

A smart couponer knows that sales come in cycles and that coupon in the Sunday paper for Colgate toothpaste matched with the sale at Kroger the following week will come around again in about 6-8 weeks. No one needs 40 tubes of toothpaste in one week. In two months time the same deal will be available again and you can get more free toothpaste then. Use moderation and get a few tubes at each sale and you will still have more than you can likely use. I had to quit taking advantage of even the free tubes of toothpaste because I was collecting too many for us to use. A smart couponer only purchases what they need or will use before it expires.

Extreme couponers cause problems for smart coupon users in a few different ways. First, many times they are using coupons fraudulently. In a recent episode it was on video for the whole world to see the shopper use a coupon for the wrong item. She is currently defending herself on her Facebook page saying that it doesn't matter. But it does matter, because not only is it illegal, it is taking advantage of the company, and it ruins it for smart coupon users. Second, extreme couponers will take all or almost all of an item so that the store runs out and the customers that actually needed that item this week can't buy it. Third, companies are rapidly changing their policies to limit coupon use because of a handful of people that use it to the extreme. Fourth, when companies lose such massive quantities of money due to extreme couponers they are forced to raise prices to accommodate for it.

I am all for using coupons to save money. I use them every single shopping trip. I spend about one hour each week clipping coupons, matching sales and making a list. I save about 30-40% off my grocery bill each week by doing this. I think these numbers are well worth it for me and realistically most smart coupon users have the same type of numbers. They spend a little bit of time to save money on products there family uses. I think this is wise coupon use, not extreme.

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Comments 54 comments

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA

I like your common sense view of this extreme coupon trend. It seems Americans like to do everything big no matter how much sense it makes.


SKCandles profile image

SKCandles 5 years ago from Canada

I agree with you on the extreme couponing. What is the purpose other than for them to see how much money they can save? Like you said, what is the purpose of buying so much of something that it canot be used before it goes bad? If they at least donated these items to foodbanks or something, it might not seem quite as bad.


Sunshine625 5 years ago

A bit too extreme for me. Nice hub :)


Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Great common sense! Voted Up and useful. I'd not realized all this about extreme users. Smart coupon use I've found also is to know when *not* to use them. Often I take a coupon with me intending to buy the product and come to find the grocery store's own brand is cheaper, even without a coupon (and sometimes is their frequent shopper card). So, often I find myself leaving the coupon for someone else to use and get the cheaper item, myself.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

I tried clipping coupons for a little while. I stopped doing it--I was spending more, like you said, stockpiling stuff that we didn't really need, rather than saving money. Once in a while I'll light on a coupon I can use immediately for something I had to buy anyway. That doesn't happen very often!

Good hub. I know some people get pretty obsessive about it.


cheryl 5 years ago

It is always nice to have 60 mustards in case something happens (NOT). That woman is a nut and the way she took almost everything from the shelves made me sick. Hopefully no one in the stores lost their jobs because she is so greedy she doesn't follow the rules.


Faith Dossett 5 years ago

So true, Jennifer! Well-written, also.


 5 years ago

This is my top picks today. Already voted up and linked to. Thanks for sharing


WiseMimsy profile image

WiseMimsy 5 years ago

I agree! Extreme couponing seems to have similarities to hoarding. A lot of these extreme stockpiles may be better used by charity organizations.


Erin Eisenman profile image

Erin Eisenman 5 years ago from Montana

I think the difference between these 'extreme couponers' and those of us who use couponing as a way to keep our household budgets healthy, is they view couponing as a hobby. I have heard many of them refer to it as this. Using couponing as a hobby is their business but I agree the media has exploited this new "hobby" and it could impact the rest of us "smart couponers!"


DeLaro11 profile image

DeLaro11 5 years ago

well that is interesting I think I agree. Everything can be taken to extreme and like you said it normally is not a good thing


cjcarter profile image

cjcarter 5 years ago

I was JUST saying this to my family the other day! Who NEEDS all that crap that comes from extreme couponing!? I would rather spend money on things that i actually need and are healthy for me, than on a ton of stuff that i don't necessarily need or want. Great article! I'm now a fan :)


KB 5 years ago

I like you hub post


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Most coupons are for packaged convenience foods that are unhealthy so I don't use them. I clip and use cleaning supply coupons I use but the others I toss. Not worth my time and not good for us anyway.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia

I watched an episode of TLC's Extreme Couponing where a man had "purchased" 1200 boxes of Total cereal. He had to call ahead and special order that quantity. He called the local food bank to donate all of this cereal after he was done shopping. Unfortunately, that's rare for extreme couponers.


susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

Coupons are only good if you are using them for something you need and would buy in any case.


Green Art profile image

Green Art 5 years ago

Great hub on using coupons to the extreme. I started stocking up on items just in case like shampoo, body wash and tooth paste ending up with enough to last 2-3 years down the road! Now I just clip coupons for the items I really need now.


manda092789 profile image

manda092789 5 years ago from Pittsfield, MA

WiseMimsy I completely agree with you! I feel that these people who have whole rooms dedicated to their stockpile should be on Hoarders. I can understand wanting to make sure that you have enough to provide for your family in case you lose your job, but these people are preventing other families from having that chance because they are clearing shelves and in turn getting prices raised. Great hub!


kirsteno profile image

kirsteno 5 years ago

There's a difference between using coupons to help your family and using coupons to try and take over the world one mustard bottle at a time. They really do belong on Hoarders and not on something that makes them look good.


NaturalMomma profile image

NaturalMomma 5 years ago from South Bend, IN

totally agree, thanks for the hub. kind of funny that all the ads on this hub are for coupons!


Dana Hinders profile image

Dana Hinders 5 years ago

I agree completely. I use coupons every shopping trip, but my entire "stash" of extra products still fits in one closet.


enlight your soul profile image

enlight your soul 5 years ago from Bangladesh

It's a very good idea. From now on I'll try to follow this.


grayghost profile image

grayghost 5 years ago

Well done. Great insight for a newly retired person. Saving money on things you can't use just because you can doesn't make sense. And the coupons do make a difference when your income "retires" with you. I hope these people don't goof up a good thing.


ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

Im puzzeled why someone needs to have 50 bottles of mustard or 100 boxes of cereral. They become extream hoarders!


michalk 5 years ago

I love coupons - I always feel like I'm making so much money

Michal

bit.ly/hpVm4t


Tamila Roberts profile image

Tamila Roberts 5 years ago from Canada

Yes, I strongly believe in smart coupons!

I found one myself the other day online for a free e-book.


MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 5 years ago from United States

I like your point about stockpiling items that may end up expiring. Excellent point!


jenscott profile image

jenscott 5 years ago from United States

You are one smart cookie! I know someone who watches "Extreme Couponing" who thinks they'll be able to imitate what they see and then become rich and problem-free. (As if!) I'm sending them here, so they can get a dose of good, old-fashioned common sense!


C-Bless profile image

C-Bless 5 years ago from Canada

My thoughts exactly every time I come across this 'extreme' show. One couponer has a toothpaste room with 1000 tubes of product (gimme a break)!! However, one mother allowed her family to shop free from her overflowing rooms -- that made sense.


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Nice,Thanks for the Great post,Nice info


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D

its good to hear an alternative view of this trend...i mean the thought of having extras of EVERYTHING you could possibly need (and more) in your basement or garage seems alluring but then the thought of spending hourssssss collecting and using the coupons doesnt seem very inviting.

however, if its saving them money, and they dont have anything better to do with their time then whats the harm i suppose.


fetty profile image

fetty 5 years ago from South Jersey

I wonder how anyone can eat healthy and participate in extreme couponing. One would have to eat the stuff offered on the coupons. Most of these foods are over processed and high in salt and sugar. So what's the point here. I only can use so many cleaning products and beauty items each week as well. I also don't have the patience for this task. I do clip a few coupons each week but always resent the time and the money the manufacturer spent to print these things. It would so much easier for everyone to just receive a discount. But nooo that will never happen, now will it?


Pamela Sarzana profile image

Pamela Sarzana 5 years ago from northern Indiana

I use coupons allot, People would be surprised how much they can save. Good article


Family Manager 5 years ago from Ohio

I agree with you extreme couponing is hurting the smart couponer. I do go to the extreme and stock pile items that my family actually uses but never do I hoard enough that will expire before consumption. Like the Buy one Get one Free Body soaps with the buy 2 get a $1 off coupons.


MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 5 years ago from United States

I agree with you Family Manager.


mary bailey 5 years ago

I loved everything about this article, Jennifer! Especially the part about the people who actually spend money on the coupons---they are not counting what they spent on newspapers, clipping services, etc, in their grocery totals.


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

Very good information. I have friends who have been talking about the extreme couponing show. I love a bargain and definitely use coupons, but I know very few people who have the time involved for the "extreme."

Voted up and useful.


gammie profile image

gammie 5 years ago

I like your philosophy plus these extreme coupon shoppers are causing businesses to want to opt out of continuing the coupon options for customers.


Field-Of-Flowers profile image

Field-Of-Flowers 5 years ago from Midwest, USA

I've watched the show Extreme Couponing too and I just don't get it. Why does someone need 1,500 boxes of Total cereal at one time? Personally...I think it's 'total'ly obsurd. And a room in your house dedicated to hundreds of boxes of toothpaste...4 feet high?! These people remind me of the show Hoarders. I'm not against coupons I've used them too. But not to the extreme as to take everything off of the shelf and leave the next customer without. What if it's a product they 'really need' right at that moment and can't get it? Hoarders...plain and simple.


MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 5 years ago from United States

Hoarders will eventually ruin coupon use for everyone!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

I noticed that on the TLC show the people use coupons for many unhealthy foods like chips, snacks, and other junk food that really you shouldn't go overboard on. While it might be nice to stock up on toilet paper, I just can't imagine a whole room dedicated to stockpiling. It only makes sense if you give stuff away to help the less fortunate. Nice hub!


carolapple profile image

carolapple 5 years ago from Suffolk Virginia

Very refreshing! I knew it was possible to save a lot $$ with coupons, and feel like I'm wasting money if I don't use them. I am a little organization-challenged plus I have a full-time job, so it is hard for me to devote a lot of time to the practice; but I have tried to clip and match sales. At one point I even devoted a massive effort to making a tabbed binder in which I organized my coupons in plastic trading card pockets. Then I lost the binder. Sigh. Now I use a little file box and just file the coupons alphabetically. It's quick and it works for me.


smspang profile image

smspang 5 years ago from baltimore, md.

Honestly. I never even thought of coupons before. It wasn't until I was in line at the grocery store a few months ago. I watched this older lady have a total of around $120 in groceries. After she unloaded her coupons. Her grand total was only $37.50. I was insanely impressed.

If anyones interested in a new venture. Heres a deal a day/ coupon site that pays out to its customers. Its like a groupon or living social with a pretty generous compensation plan, and it doesn't cost a thing. Find out more @ http://smsinc.thecustomeradvantage.com


tammy 5 years ago

I think it is crazy and I don't hav 60 hours a week to spend and I am not going to dig in trash...


Mary Contrary profile image

Mary Contrary 5 years ago from Columbus, OH

I attempted extreme couponing this week-I still don't know how these folks do it. I did save a little over $26.00, not just from coupons but researching the ads and price comparison. I was more aware of compulsive purchases and avoided them. So if nothing else, I can say I'm becoming a smarter shopper without the hoarding. By the way we have Kroger here in Ohio and they have recently stopped doubling coupons because of the extreme couponers, so they are indeed hurting the rest of us.


Melissa Bachman 5 years ago

Hi, I just recently started the extreme coupon craze and I agree with you on every aspect. Plus I dont have the room to store on that stuff. And, you are absolutely right about how much on household needs toothpaste and cereal, etc. God love ya girl Im right there with ya on that!!!!


Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida

Hi Jennifer, I understand what you mean. I am one of many realistic couponers. I never watched the show but never wanted to. The extreme part scared me away.

I would love to have you read my how to articles on couponing and tell me what you think. Above that, there is an organization that people can donate their coupons if they have no use for them or for those that have expired. I am planning a hub about it in the near future. Our troops are allowed to us them at their commissaries and px's.

I am hoping many many people will read that one! It's one of the easiest ways to help and costs almost nothing at all.

I think I will follow you... I would like to personally invite you to follow me. :)


Sarah Hill 5 years ago

I agree, everything in moderation! Although, I do go a little crazy around Black Friday when I obsessively check blackfriday.com twice a day!


Captainausume profile image

Captainausume 5 years ago from New Jersey

The people who hoard stuff they don't even need are just wasting food. However, some people have used the extreme couponing in order to obtain food to donate to the needy. This I can get behind.


East Texas Girl profile image

East Texas Girl 5 years ago from East Texas

It is nice to see so many people with the same ideas about couponing. I think they need to start a new show called "Extreme Couponing Hoarders" and have a shrink on there to find the underlying issues. I just wrote a hub to Coupon Haters if your interested in looking.


MaryD profile image

MaryD 5 years ago

Great info! I love couponing and the savings I can get but the extreme part is not me! Thanks for your common sense article!


Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida

Hey Jennifer, I just accepted a teaching position and wanted you to know that I will be teaching real life couponing and not extreme couponing! I am super excited and thought of you and your blog as soon as I accepted it! One point for the realistic team!

Talk to you soon.


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 4 years ago from Minnesota

I agree with you completely! It's frustrating to go buy a product you have a coupon for, only to find it's been wiped out by someone. I usually buy one or two of the item (depending on if i have to buy two to get the deal) but if they are going to buy every single item - i would make me feel better if they at least gave some to charity. Very nice hub here!


Jane 4 years ago

I agree with most of what you say. I actually use my products, and alot of things have no expiration date. Canned goods can last decades further than the label.

I must dissagree with the "stores loosing money" they get face value PLUS 8 to 10 cents shipping when they turn in the coupons. Of all the printed coupons in the inserts, about 20% are actually being used. So that throws out the loosing money statement.

I do agree I hate that damn show and the fact it has shown so many people how to do something (even fraudently like that blonde chick who boasts about cheating the stores). Since that show has come out, the companys have clutched thier coupon policy's "purse strings". For instance We used to get a $10 off a $50 purchase, now we have to spend $75. I have to call upon the manager at nearly every transaction because the employees are not propperly trained in reading thier own policy. I've done the couponing stuff for around 10 years now. I donate to the food bank and near homeless shelters. I show others how to use the coupons. It's a hard job, but when you have nothing else better to do and have to live on a shoestring budget, knowing that you don't have to go out and pay full price for anything is a good feeling.

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