Friday, July 22, 2011

Mad Clippers: The Truth Behind (Some) Extreme Couponing

Okay, my friends all know I am in love with coupons. I clip the Sunday paper, troll online sites, email companies, etc. in order to get them. We are broke and both of us have been since we can remember. My mother was a crazy coupon lady. On a trip to Harvey's once, she paid under $10 for over $200 worth of groceries. I'm still impressed. My own shopping trips haven't gotten quite as awesome, but I do all right. I get things for free occasionally, and I get things for damn near free a lot of the time. However, I don't do coupons for the fun of it. Sure, I get a kick out of it, but that isn't the point. The point is to make sure we can afford the groceries and household items we need every week.

So, where in the world is this headed, you ask. I finally found a site online to watch TLC's Extreme Couponing, and I am, for the most part, I am horrified. Some of the people are awesome. One guy bought an insane amount of hba items (like around 200 toothpastes, etc.), but turned around and donated a ton to deployed soldiers. One woman did the same with food items, but donated over half to a food bank. Those I get. Those I think are awesome. However, even they have something in common with the others that makes me livid: the stockpile.

All of the people profiled on the show have stockpiles that take over garages, rooms, closets, you name it. Some of the families are large, so a reasonable stockpile makes sense. Buy 50 bottles of shampoo for nothing or near it, and you don't have to worry about it for a while. BUT they don't just buy it like that. One man had a literal wall of toothpaste which he was stockpiling for his 4 person family. There is no way they will be able to use a fraction of that before he buys more. One woman has hundreds of packages of diapers in her garage that she got basically for free, but she has no kids! She is neither married nor dating anyone with whom she is planning on having a child anytime soon. She simply bought them and stored them for "the future." While it makes sense in a way, it just seems excessive and wasteful to me. If I had the space and money to spend, I would do the crazy coupons for those things and donate them, but I don't. My "stockpile" might be 2 or 3 bottles of the same shampoo when I didn't need it yet but which I spent maybe 50 cents on. The difference is that I won't buy anymore shampoo until that is gone.

This whole thing aggravates the hell out of me. I have nothing against saving money; it's wonderful. However, this is no longer actually doing that. The diaper woman was shown buying Mylanta or a similar product which she admittedly never uses, but she couldn't pass it up because it was such a good deal. A "good deal" is one that saves you money on an item you use. It would be like me going out and buying 20 boxes of pregnancy tests to keep in my stockpile because they were extremely cheap. I have no use for them, so any money I spent on them is automatically wasted. Therefore, not a good deal. *sigh*

All of this is not to say that all extreme couponers are like this. On the contrary, there were a few who simply built up items their families needed without being ridiculous about it. Anything over their own need that they got for free or spent pennies on, they donated or gave to extended family. Those are good deals. What these other people are doing? Well, compare an episode of that show to Hoarders, and the only difference you are likely to see is how neatly the items are contained. They are simply escaping the stigma and label by throwing up a shield of coupons and being on a different show. Just sayin...


ebookworm81 said...

I totally agree with you here. If it can be used or donated, great; otherwise it's hoarding. Occasionally I can't watch an episode of Hoarders because some of those are so heart wrenching (or disgusting, I can't handle the worst of the food/exrement filth). I'm also wondering, where do you get your Sunday paper? Do you simply pay for a subscription or is there a secret (cheaper) way to get the ads?

obsessive compulsive dawn said...

I just buy the paper every Sunday--only one copy though. I know some of the coupon obsessed beg the inserts from friends and recycling centers. If there are awesome coupons that week that I actually need, I get my wife to snag a few from the hotel that would otherwise be thrown away. But I don't see the point of buying 7 and 8 copies, though the Democrat has bundle prices *facepalm*...after all, I can only solve the crossword once really.