So, have you watched the tv show Extreme Couponing? I thought, by watching it, I would get some helpful tips or pointers on saving money at the grocery store. I did not anticipate the "reality" of the show. These folks are almost possessed with getting the most for no money. And they are proud of it and flaunt their strategies. Some of these strategies are illegal, but they are still being shown on the program.
One lady was caught committing coupon fraud because she used a high value, brand name coupon to purchase smaller, cheaper boxes of cereal ~ she had manipulated the coupons in some way that the computers let them through. She was shown on the first program but the subsequent airings of the same program,cut the cereal part out. A number of these folks have a serious hoarding problem. 300 boxes of cereal, 400 sports drinks, 250 boxes of pasta is hoarding. If your "stash" has taken over your pantry, garage, bedrooms, and all closets ~ you are hoarding.
There have been 3 or 4 people on the show, who have used their couponing abilities to stock food pantries at shelters, churches, etc. They have taken their over abundance and are blessing others who need the help. They are still doing it on a huge scale, but they aren't hanging onto to all of it.
Last week I saw on gal, who was over the top, unbelievable. She was a Vegan, so she nor her family consume any meat, dairy products, eggs, etc. However, when watching her shopping trip and looking at her "haul", it consisted of non-healthy products...loaded with artificial colors, artificial sweeteners (hfcs + more), white flour, etc. How can this be considered healthy, when an egg or hamburger is not? And, she was saving at the grocery store in order to pay for her passion....tattoos. She was proudly showing off her "art".
There are some good ways to decide if you are an extreme couponer ~ you get 10-15 newspapers a week, you steal additional papers off your neighbors driveway before they get up, you dumpster dive every Monday/Tuesday to get what people throw away, tv cameras follow you around when you grocery shop, you have to get additional riders on your homeowners policy to cover your grocery stash, you consider a shopping trip which involves getting 250 candy bars at check out for free - fun, you have to lock your stash against your husband and children so they don't mess it up. All these scenarios have happened on the show. And they are proud of it.
But another thing has happened as a result of the show. Its made it so much harder for us, legitimate, coupon users to shop at our stores. I do like getting almost free toothpaste or a box of pasta or saving $1.50 on our favorite teabags, or combining a coupon with a sale and getting the item for next to nothing. But my whole shopping trip is not based on this. If I have the coupon, I use it. Now the clerks are scrutinizing every detail on the coupon, including the pictures. Yesterday I had one for $1.00 off any XXXX product, any size. The gal didn't want to take my coupon, because I had bought the tub of XXXX product instead of the jug of XXXX product. Keep in mind, the coupon said ANY product from that line, she refused it ~ I asked her to call over the manager. The manager reads the coupon, looks at the product and says to the gal ~ whats the problem, she has the coupon, she bought the product (actually I bought 2 and only had 1 coupon), put the coupon through. The gal still argued that it wasn't what was pictured on the coupon, it was something else ~ the manager and I won that debate.
It is fun to walk into Walgreens or Kroger or CVS with $5 and coupons, and walk out with 2 bags worth of goodies for $5 or less. But more often than not, you can walk into one of the stores and walk out with 1 or 2 bags and have spent $20 +.
Its ok to save money. Its ok to stock up on a good deal. Its ok to take advantage of sales and combine them with coupons. Its definately ok to share your abundance with others less fortunate.
But if TV cameras start to follow you around, you start locking your pantry so no one sees whats in it, or you takeover your childs room with your toilet paper haul ~ then you may want to consider that you have a problem.