Saturday, January 8, 2011

TLC's "Extreme Couponing" - my thoughts

So I finally got a chance to watch the TLC special "Extreme Couponing" last Tuesday.  If you missed it, it's not currently listed as airing again. (ETA: The show is on the schedule again... it will air on January 15th at 10:00 pm EST and January 16th at 1:00 am EST.)  But don't worry - TLC has announced an "Extreme Couponing" series, with twelve epsidoes airing in the spring!

Going into the show (as I posted here), I expected "Extreme Couponing" to show couponers as being outside the mainstream of ordinary shoppers, doing things that ordinary folks wouldn't do themselves.  And, of course, I wasn't disappointed.  But overall I thought the treatment of the subjects was much better than I expected them to be.

Here's what I didn't like:

  • The show should have mentioned that (from what I understand) the subjects were asked to create the most outrageous, extreme shopping trip they could.   It should have been pointed out that the shopping trip that was filmed was not a normal shopping trip for them.
  • The show should have mentioned that many of the items purchased ended up being donated to food banks.  Nathan donated many different items, not just the cereal.  Amanda also donated some items.  And Joanie made a video of her taking almost all her items to the food bank:

  • The depiction of people with stockpiles as hoarders.  I loved seeing all the different stockpiles and how the owners had gone about organizing them.  True, some were a little messy, but perhaps that was just exaggerated for the cameras.  When I see those stockpiles, I don't see hoarding; I see people providing for their families. I wish the show had also featured how some of the couponers share their stockpile with friends and family.
  • The focus on junk foods (candy and soda) being bought, when healthy foods were also purchased, including - gasp! - vegetables with coupons!  See two of the shopping lists here and here.
  • This is getting a little picky, but for those who purchased coupons, the cost of the coupons should have been included in the cost of the shopping trip.
What I loved:
  • The stockpiles!  Especially the organized ones.  Wish I had such a big stockpile - it would make the Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge incredibly easy.
  • The dumpster diving - really! What's the big deal - it was a newspapers-only dumpster and I'm sure she asked permission.   I'd do that if 1) I didn't get free coupon inserts and 2) my area didn't have single-stream recycling (newspapers, glass, and plastic mixed together).
  • The amount of community that was shown, especially with the third couponer, who showed her daughter how to use coupons and talked to her neighbors about them.
  • Joanie saying to her son, when he wanted to buy a treat, "We don't have a coupon for that."  Words out of my mouth.
    While watching, I thought of a conspiracy theory - maybe the producers were making the couponers look so bad because they *don't* want people to use coupons, at least not in an extreme way?  There were a lot of major companies with advertisements throughout the show.  If a large segment of the population started couponing in a serious way, as shown, then the companies might blow out their marketing budgets, and lose lots of money.  Perhaps they want people to use coupons the old-fashioned way - by cutting a single coupon out, going immediately to the store, and buying the item at full price.  So, therefore, they made serious couponing look completely unappetizing to the ordinary viewer.

    Conspiracy or not, I loved the show, and can't wait to see the new series!  I learned a lot from those profiled, and I also picked up a lot of new ideas for posts at Frugal Follies.

    What did you think of the show?  Leave a comment below!

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    Unknown January 8, 2011 at 11:51 PM  

    Interesting! I missed this show and tried to find another airing... like you said they aren't showing it again. One of the things that we started doing this year is food storage. So I would be very interested in seeing the series. Thanks for the review. I am a terrible couponer. They are always expired by the time I use them. :(

    The Frugal Exerciser - Sheila Simmons June 6, 2013 at 11:01 PM  

    I find some of it like hoarding especially if they don't donate their extra to a charity or food bank. I would love to see your thoughts on the show extreme cheapskates.

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