Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Frugality: Why You Shouldn't Feel Bad Watching Extreme Couponing

If you haven't seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, I don't recommend it, or if you do watch it, I recommend not taking it as anything close to reality. I've had more then one person both online and real life mention how they've felt bad because they just can't reach those savings. Well here's a list of why you shouldn't feel bad.
  • Remember it is reality tv, and that means it's all about the ratings.
  • Realize that when the stores sign on to do this show, they are doing it because they want to look good.
  • Because they want to look good, the store will give the show producers very advance notice of upcoming sales because the show producers only want the really good savings.
  • Because of the advance notice of sales, they can then in turn give the "couponers" on the show lots of time to get coupons.
  • The couponers never count the cost of the coupons they buy in their totals. While often these coupons are cheap, they still cost money.
  • Because the producers only want the best totals, the people are not going to buy anything they might actually need like bread, milk, meat, and produce because the goal is to get close to $0. They can buy that stuff when they aren't on camera.
  • They are also going to buy more then they probably ever do because again the goal is to get as close to $0 as possible while making the savings amount huge.
  • Some stores have admitted they have bent their policies to make themselves look better. This might be doubling coupons over the value they double, allowing more then their quantity limits, allowing overage when they don't normally, or similar.
  • Some of the couponers have actually been caught being allowed to do illegal things like using coupons for something other then it is for. For example, one couponer was seen using coupons for yoplait multipacks on single cups and coupons for items 16 oz or larger on items that were under 16 oz. This is coupon fraud, and is technically punishable by fines and jail.
  • Other illegal things include stealing papers from in front of people's houses because the person hadn't brought them in yet, also in some cities it is illegal to dumpster dive.
  • It's also very staged on the show. So when you see them just throwing a whole display in the cart, they aren't really just doing that. The producers wanted them to, and the store arranged for there to be a display with the exact number they need.
  • A few of the stores have come out to say they wish they didn't do the show.
  • The result of the show is that a lot of people have gotten into couponing, but either they have no idea what is allowed or they easily burn out because they can't reach those savings. The result from the stores is they are changing coupon policies and being more vigilent when you do use coupons.
So all in all, this reality tv is not reality, it's managed reality. Real couponing is saving more money then you used to spend on items you buy. There is no magic amount you should be saving or a magic grocery budget you should have. It all depends on your personal situation. A person with dogs, cats, babies, and teenagers will spend more then someone who is just a family of 2. If someone has a special diet or food allergies, their budget will be more then someone who doesn't. It also depends a lot on where you are at in your couponing journey. If you have months of coupon inserts, tear pads, booklets, etc., then you will probably save more then someone who just started. If you have a stockpile and are now in maintenance mode, you'll probably save more then someone who is just starting and still has to buy regular meals while building their stockpile.

Want to know the best way to see how you are doing? Compare what you are spending now to what you were spending before you started. Don't get discouraged because of Extreme Couponing or something you see on a show and tell blog post. I use the blog posts I see as a way to see what deals are out there, but don't compare yourself to them. If you are saving money on your family's needs, you should feel good. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Its Great To Be Frugal.  Thank You.  Jerri Davis