April 6, 2011

Will You Be Watching "Extreme Couponing" on TLC Tonight?

Tonight, TLC will air the first of twelve episodes of their spring season of Extreme Couponing at 9:00 & 9:30 pm EST.

I didn't see the one-hour special that aired in December of 2010 but I have read quite a bit about it online. I will probably watch tonight's show, but with one eyebrow raised.

As Toni (you know and love her as The Happy Housewife) so succinctly explains in her post yesterday, extreme couponing is NOT reality couponing.

It is extreme for a reason. That high level of obsession dedication with the equally high committment of time, money, and stockpiling space is simply not an attainable (nor desirable, in my personal opinion) goal for 99.9 percent* of the general population of couponers, a group in which I count myself.

I, like Toni and like Andrea at Savings Lifestyle - who wrote some of her thoughts about this upcoming series on TLC earlier this week - have some serious concerns about this type of couponing being portrayed on TV.

Here's what's rolling around in my brain as this show prepares to air tonight:

Extreme couponing is not everyday couponing. If you're looking for ways to learn how to coupon in everyday real life - a life where you must balance your resources of time, money, space, and mental energies - this show will likely not offer you the help you need and may in fact discourage you from even trying to use coupons at all. If you're looking for help in becoming an everyday couponer, you can read my four part how-to series, Back to Basics: Couponing, as well as learn Coupon Terminology, some simple ways to Organize Your Coupons, and how to Save Big at CVS and Save Big at Walgreens.

Extreme couponing leads to extreme stockpiling which can be a sign of or precursor to hoarding behavior. Hoarding behavior is recognized as a sign of mental illness. I just finished reading Dirty Secret by Jessie Sholl, a memoir she wrote about growing up as the daughter of a hoarder (it's a fine book from such a sad childhood). I'm not casting aspersions on any of the folks on tonight's show nor am I trying to say that they themselves have a disorder. My point is that this type of extreme couponing and extreme stockpiling could be seriously unhealthy for folks who, sadly, already have issues with hoarding in their lives.

Extreme couponing can and will have repercussions for all of us everyday couponers. You've probably already experienced going to the store with hopes for getting one of the hot deals only to find the shelves wiped. Or you've walked down the street during a neighborhood yard sale to see that one of your neighbors has three or four tables loaded down with cleaning items, lotions, soaps, toothpastes, and other easy to get for free with coupon items**. You may have heard about Kroger's recent change in coupon policy in the Houston area where Kroger has totally done away with double/triple coupons in their Houston area stores. When coupons are abused on a large scale by a small minority, the actions that the stores and manufacturers take to protect their profit margin affect everyone, including the majority.

So there's my $0.02 in a nutshell; I'd love to know what you're thinking. You and I may have differing opinions on this issue...which is what opinions are all about.

Please know I'd love to hear your thoughts on Extreme Couponing (and extreme stockpiling) but I do monitor the comments here and I do ask that everyone engages in a civil discourse. ;-)

*That number is for illustration only; I don't have hard statistics on the actual number of "extreme" couponers v. everyday couponers.

**I have personally witnessed this in my own neighborhood and it was disappointing to see.


Sharon @ Real Life Deals said...

Hey there! I posted my thoughts on the TLC show tonight a few hours ago. I also have some concerns about the repercussions. Just in case you're interested in my thoughts lol .... here's a link. I've been reading your blog for a while! Thanks for all you do!


The Martin Family said...

I'm in Houston, and I'm still so sad about my Kroger. The changes don't happen until next Tuesday, and I'm already planning one kinda big last trip. And I'm trying to find a new grocery home...and I'm still not sure HEB, Randall's, Walmart? I feel a little lost.

But I have to say about the Extreme Couponing show - for me - it's just annoying because stores don't let you shop like that. You can't buy 100 of something and use a coupon on every single one. Not to mention it seems to condone shelf-clearing...and I don't like that either. I have a hard time believing that retail decision-makers would be watching the show and responding with a coupon policy. I suspect their decisions are based on what they experience in their stores...so that if people are couponing differently because of the show, then I think the show could be responsibile for coupon policies changing. But honestly, I think the couponers who will become *extreme* couponers because of the show will probably be a handful...not significant.

I really think the show is more like their another shows...like Raising Sextuplets. It's just entertainment. I'm not going to go out and birth six babies at once just because someone on tv does. But it's fun and crazy to watch...just like extreme couponing.