Extreme Couponing

I recently caught an episode of "Extreme Couponing" on TLC. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about real people who obsessively use couponing to spend only pennies for hundreds of dollars worth of goods. Surprised that it only took some planning to save major bucks on groceries and personal items, I felt determined to get into excessive couponing myself! I quickly realized however that the show may be far from reality for me. Here’s why:

  • Lack of Time. It takes a lot more time than the minutes televised to coordinate product needs, coupon availability and organization, and sales promotions. Many of the show’s participants make extreme couponing their full-time job! If you’re not ready to give up your day job, extreme couponing may not be for you either.
  • Lack of Space. Stockpiling is a common practice for extreme couponers, and in order to be successful, you’ll need lots of storage space. However, if you’re like me and have limited space for the things you need now, extreme couponing may not be the way to go.
  • Lack of Need. Some of the extreme couponers purchased mass quantities of items just because they were nearly free. If you weren’t planning to purchase the product to begin with, you’ll be spending money (even if it’s pennies) on items you don’t need.
  • Lack of Options. Most products purchased on the show were packaged goods. I prefer fresh foods over packaged foods, but have yet to come across a coupon for produce or meats. In reality, extreme couponers will still need to spend some money on fresh foods unless they’re content with consuming packaged goods for every meal.

Although it definitely inspired me to take advantage of the coupons for products I would be buying anyway, extreme couponing isn’t realistic for my situation. If extreme couponing doesn’t seem realistic for you either, consider these other tips in Jumping on the Coupon Bandwagon to still save big.

You might also enjoy this CreditCards.com article featuring MMI's community manager about what reality TV shows can teach us about credit and spending.

Anna Kronzer is a former marketing specialist and program manager at MMI.