Extreme Couponing?

A new season of “Extreme Couponing,” a show about people who score huge quantities of products for next to no money out of pocket, premiers tonight on TLC.

This show makes me mad.

I caught a few episodes when the show first aired earlier this year. What I saw was men and women clearing shelves and filling cart after cart with a lifetime supply of toothbrushes. And hand soap.

Commissary shoppers are 30 percent more likely to use coupons than the average consumer, according to a commissary representative I met at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference last year. That makes us couponing aces compared to the greater population.

My beef with couponing in the extreme is this: folks who use, nay abuse, couponing like those in this show take off the market for those of us just trying to feed our families a huge chunk of a limited number of coupons released by manufacturers. They also clear the shelves of the products so that you and I can’t buy any.

Oh, and they make normal coupon people look crazy. I’m already make myself look crazy enough  -- I don’t need anyone’s help.

The rest of my protests are well summed up by the fabulous Toni at The Happy Housewife, who we recently featured in a video interview.

From her post:

I realize this show is called Extreme Couponing, so it is going to be outrageous. No one is going to watch a show called “The Happy Housewife Goes to the Commissary and Saves $20.” The problem with being extreme is that it isn’t always possible to get 1,000 free boxes of pasta or get a $500 grocery bill down to $0.62! What bothers me about the show is that it gives new couponers an unrealistic view of how to save money. If 72% of the people surveyed are planning on using coupons to save money, they need solid coupon advice, not extreme examples that are not always possible in real life.
She goes on to make a bunch of really great points about just how unrealistic extreme couponing is. The truth is, she points out, is that finding enough coupons to make those deals go down doesn't just happen. It also takes huge - HUGE - amounts of time. Some of these people surely spend 20 or more hours a week finding coupons. Using coupons like they do in the show also requires the store to bend their coupon policy -- and no store I've ever run across let's you double that many coupons at once. And, finally, your family cannot, as she says "live on free toilet paper and cereal." Most coupons are for processed foods or cosmetics, cleaning products, etc. -- not for the foods that should be making up a healthy diet.

You can see the rest of her excellent post here.

Are any of you planning to watch this show? What are your thoughts?

Note: This post originally contained a long excerpt from The Happy Housewife's blog. While she didn't mind us quoting her extensively, for the sake of her search engine rankings we went ahead and shortened what we used.

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