We just returned from a lovely weekend spent in Branson, MO. While there, I had a chance to watch a few episodes of TLC's Extreme Couponing. I can't decide if I'm impressed or repulsed by what I saw. Yes, the amount of money that was saved was impressive. However, the, what I would considering hoarding, behavior displayed was not. I admit, I love getting that great bargain and saving all the money I can on items. But to have a "stockpile" worth $75,000 and continuing to buy more and more because it's an awesome deal, is something that I have a problem with. Dumpster diving, sneaking around at night going through other people's recycling bins in order to get more and more coupons, and stealing coupon inserts from people's newspapers sitting on their front porch ~ and making children help ~ signal some major problems.
I've clipped coupons, and sometimes actually use them. My family is not brand-loyal. The majority of the time, the generic is cheaper than the brand-name with a coupon. Maybe it's because around here, our grocery stores do not double or triple coupons and don't have any type of loyalty card benefits. It would be near impossible for me to duplicate what these people are shown doing on the show. Not only that, but I don't think that I would want to. Their houses are so full of items, it would take years to use everything that they already have, and yet they keep buying. They spend hours and hours every week clipping coupons, hunting down coupons, surfing the web for coupons, and planning the next shopping trip. What about their family? I wonder how much time they actually are spending with their spouses and/or children, outside of couponing together.
They spend so much time planning, that some actually pre-order massive amounts of an item so that they won't clean the store out. One lady purchased 400 boxes of cat food, 500 containers of yogurt, 150 boxes of cous-cous (which, by the way, her family had never eaten before), and 50 bottles of hot sauce. Also included were bottles of sports drink, infant formula (her children appeared to be 5 and 7), and packages of pre-made noodles ~ 300 to be exact. She had to separate everything into 8 carts so that the register didn't freeze. Then as everything was being scanned, she stood there shaking and sweating and completely exhausted. She had spent 24 hours planning this trip, searching the neighborhood at night with a flashlight going through recycling bins. She hadn't even slept.
I wondered just how much time tracking down one coupon on the internet would take, so I gave it a shot today. Two hours down, and I still can't find a single coupon. I did find a toll free number that I can call once a month in order for coupons to be sent to me. I was on hold for 10 minutes, so I hung up. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. I'm sure that it's because I'm new at it, but I won't spend my entire day searching for coupons. My family is too important.
Couponing is great, I still will use one if I come across it, it is something that we actually use, and it makes it cheaper than the generic. However, the behavior I witness on the show is not something that I want to duplicate. Saving money is a good thing, but it is not worth dumpster diving for that 55 cents off the 353rd box of cat food.