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TLC Extreme Couponing

Updated on December 28, 2012

As a cashier of four years at my local grocery, I have interacted with all kinds of people at the cash register but just when I thought I had seen it all, a new sensation has brought savings saavy shoppers to the check-out counter and they come equipped with stacks of coupons. This new trend taking hold of grocery store shoppers nationwide is referred to as “extreme couponing” and having assisted a few of these couponers myself, I can see where the “extreme” comes in. TLC has brought the concept to television with their show, Extreme Couponing, which walks viewers through the step-by-step process that cash-strapped couponers go through to save as much money as possible on their groceries.

A Clip from Extreme Couponing: Jennifer Buys $880 Worth of Groceries and Spends Only $88!

The TLC Show Extreme Couponing

The show typically features shoppers who buy in bulk quantities with 300 to 400 dollars worth of groceries in numerous carts by the time they reach check-out and after all their coupons are applied, they leave the store with stock piles of groceries having spent no more than ten dollars. However, this massive savings comes at a high price as documented by the show, with couponers spending anywhere from six to eight hours in the grocery store per shopping trip, not to mention the hours of preparation it takes to carefully plan each shopping trip and find, print and cut hundreds of coupons. The show Extreme Couponing has recently received harsh criticisim for exploiting the addictive behaviors of crazed couponers whose need to save consumes them at the expense of family time. These extreme couponers have even been referred to as hoarders in reference to the stock piles of groceries that take up entire rooms and garages of their homes, resembling personal mini-marts.

The Downsides of Extreme Couponing

One of the downsides of extreme couponing I have witnessed first-hand, are the long wait times that every customer faces, who is unfortunate enough to get in line behind an extreme couponer. Another downside is that the retailer suffers from the bulk purchases that are so often employed by these extreme couponers. They leave grocery store shelves wiped clean in their wake and the retailers make little to no profit off the purchases. Some retailers are so fed up that they are adjusting coupon policies. The U.S. grocery store chain, Kroger has enforced a policy prohibiting customers from combining digital and manufacturer coupons to lower the cost of a single item while Rite Aid and Walgreens are asserting the right to limit the number of identical items customers can purchase when four or more coupons are applied, to ensure that there is enough stock left to satisfy the needs of other customers.

Save Smart: Get the Best Deal Via Mobile


3 Aspects of Extreme Couponing You Should Beware of Before Clipping the Coupons:

1. It’s a Part-Time Job:

To lower the cost of your next shopping bill by at least 90% you must get hundreds of copies of weekly coupon circulars, located at the entrance of most grocery stores. You need to know the rules and regulations at the grocery store where you will be making your purchase, begin and end dates for store deals, when coupons can be doubled for a single item and how much each product will cost.

2. You Have to Stock Pile a lot of Items:

You will need to make LOTS of room for bulk quantites of household goods that it may take you years to use. Extreme Couponers have mountains of products stored in their homes, some clear out entire garages while others resort to buying separate sheds and storage units.

3. You Will Spend Hours at the Grocery Store:

Most extreme couponers spend over five hours at the grocery store per shopping trip which equates to an entire work day for me, except I’m being paid by the hour to be there. Sometimes orders must be separated into several loads to get maximum discounts and this does not win the favor of fellow shoppers and store employees.

Shhh. . . Susan Samtur Shares Extreme Couponing Secrets

What Devoted Extreme Couponers are Saying

In an article featured on Huffington Post, extreme couponer, Susan Samtur describes the benefits of couponing saying,

"Over the course of my life, I have saved over $100,000 and earned an additional $80,000 in refunds. Not to mention the assorted t-shirts, a coffee maker, crock pot and many other gifts, all free. I regularly save between 50-60 percent on a typical shopping trip. This year alone (and keep in mind, I have a whole month left), I reached a total savings of over $3,000. For me, extreme couponing has been one of the guiding lights in my life.”

On the MSNBC Today website, extreme couponer Tiffany Ivanovsky weighs in on why she makes time for couponing as the full time director of a preschool and the mother of 7 children:

“Today I save $1,000 a month just on groceries and toiletries. That, to me, is a great part-time job.”

“I probably spend two to three hours total a week cutting out coupons and looking online for more, That’s really not that bad. You can do it at night after the kids are in bed. . .”

“I also believe in bribery! My older children will help me cut coupons out. It’s worth a dollar to me to have them do that.”

Savings Tips from TLC:

  • Pairing eggs, rice, potatoes and beans with seasonal produce makes for perpetual bargains.
  • Replacing brand name products with generic products lowers the average grocery bill by 30%
  • If you write down every penny spent during a shipping trip you end up spending less.
  • Preparing a meatless meal two nights a week will save you money.
  • Meat that has the label “up to 10 percent solution” means that you are paying extra for the water that has been injected into the meat.


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    • Chelsea Vogel profile image

      Chelsea Vogel 5 years ago from Bradenton Florida

      Thanks BSloan, I agree! There are some great coupons out there, Winn-Dixie offers weekly $5 off any purchase of $50 or more coupons and I use those all the time.

    • BSloan profile image

      Barbara Sloan 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Chelsea, a great Hub on couponing. I'm a couponer but do not spend more then 1/2 hour per week clipping & sorting my coupons. It helps to save a bit here and there on pricy items. Enjoyed reading your Hub.

    • Chelsea Vogel profile image

      Chelsea Vogel 5 years ago from Bradenton Florida

      Thank you for the feedback! I haven't either, it's definitely a time consuming process.

    • everythingdazzles profile image

      Janelle 5 years ago from Houston

      Personally I have never used many coupons. But this is written well and has a lot of good tips! Thanks.