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Grocery Cart Confessionals: Extreme Couponing on TLC

This week TLC announced the popular show – Extreme Couponing – has been turned into a series with the premiere on April 6, 2011.

Click here to see a preview.


This show makes me cringe for a number of reasons.

The stockpiles. Yes, I have a stockpile – but I have not converted my garage into a stockpile area (complete with air conditioning). I do not have 1000 Yakisoba Noodles or a wall of toilet paper. I have enough to provide for my family and to be able to donate to local charities.

The number of inserts. HOLY COW, Batman. 1000 inserts? Seriously, you do not need that many! Sure it is nice to have extra inserts, but most families can get the items they need with one insert per family member, not 100 per family member.

The lack of balance. If you have a room dedicated to couponing, spend all of your spare time couponing, and have converted your garage to stockpiling – you have lost your balance. Couponing is suppose to help you buy the things you need, so you can afford the things you want. If all you want is the next deal – you are out of balance.

The manufacturers reaction. As a former corporate marketing “doink”, this isn’t what coupons were intended to do. Coupons are about inciting trial and rewarding long-term customers. Yes, when used strategically, they can also help you save a boat load of money.

But I guarantee you, the conversation in the marketing meeting has never been, “Let’s help Sally stock-up on 100 bottle of laundry detergent because that is a great use of our marketing dollars.” Because of this show, most likely the conversation is now, “How can we put a “fail-safe” on coupons so Sally can’t buy 100 bottles of laundry detergent?”

The non-focus on charity. I’ll admit, I have purchased items that were free or nearly free after a coupon, specifically to donate (like peanut butter, Betty Crocker Potatoes or Helper, canned fruit, cereal, canned soup, etc.). Helping provide food to charities by using the skills I have learned feels good. I like giving it forward. TLC people -you want to watch a food pantry staff jump up and down in joy – donate that wall of Stayfree or bathroom tissue.

The inaccurate portrayal of couponers. I’m a couponer. I’ll say it LOUD and PROUD. But my lifestyle doesn’t resemble anything that is portrayed on this show. Our family eats a balanced diet. I cook most of our meals from scratch (not Yakisoba noodles). We eat fresh fruits and veggies. And I still have a life that includes shopping at Nordstrom’s (on occasion). I save big bucks at the grocery store and live in a pretty tight budget – but I do it without being a whack-a-do.

The honest answer. If you are new to couponing, please know it is possible to save big money at the store. Check out my Couponing 101 and FAQ sections about tried and true principals to save money or check out some of my shopping trips. If you want a more in-depth tutorial – think about hosting a coupon class with your friends.

What do you think TLC Extreme Couponing? Let me know in the comments.