Diary of a Discount Shopper | Extreme Couponing

The season premier of Extreme Couponing begins tonight on TLC at 8:00 CST.  I’m often asked what I think of the show.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret- I don’t watch it!  For starters, we don’t have dish.  Furthermore, I spend my evenings teaching people how to coupon rationally.

You see, anything is good in moderation, but very few things remain as good when taken to the point of extremism.   There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. 

At a recent Ultimate Couponing workshop, I overheard a comment that I had not yet heard before.  I’ve taught over 6,000 people to coupon, so I thought I’d heard everything.  While browsing through the receipts I use to demonstrate the possible savings, I heard someone say ‘this isn’t couponing- where are the real receipts’.  I am used to the opposite reaction of gasps and amazement.  You see, my receipts all detail a minimum of 80% savings, and most start at $200-$400 before coupons.  This person wanted  more than that.  She didn’t think it was couponing unless you got $6,000 worth of stuff (yup, she was a fan of the show).

It turns out that she thought that when leaving the workshop, she’d automatically be able to waltz into a store and leave with $6,000 worth of stuff all the while putting forth no additional effort.  If those savings weren’t achieved, it simply wasn’t worth it.

I tell everyone up front that in my workshops, you’ll leave with all of the information you need to save a few cents or thousands.  It’s all in how much effort and time you put into it.  We even discuss the three levels of couponing:

1) Stocking Up (when you have to start stocking up on everything)

2) Maintaining  (when all you have to buy is items that you are low on when a great sale hits)

3) Crazy Psycho-Obsessive (those that take couponing to the extremes)

Couponing shouldn’t be about taking all of the free items you can, it should be about taking what you need with the resources available. 

My thoughts on Extreme Couponing?  It is a reality show, and we all know that the whole point of a reality show is to make normal people look like nut jobs for the entertainment of other people who become personally vested in watching someone else look crazy.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the featured couponers, and guess what?  They aren’t all crazy!  Most of them donate their products, but why on earth would a reality show from the station that brought you Hoarders show you that?

I have noticed quite the interest in couponing that has formed around the show.  However, I’m most concerned that manufacturers will take note of the ‘abuse’ of the system and the couponing trend will steadily decline. 

What do you think?  Are you planning on watching the show tonight?  Leave a comment below telling me about it!

Wanna learn how to coupon?  Check out our workshops!  Can’t make it to a workshop?  Download a copy of Ultimate Couponing | Your Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill now!

Like this post?  Check out the rest of the Diary of a Discount Shopper series!


  1. Ann says

    Yep, I watched it… I love to see all the buzz around couponing. I also like when the show features “normal” people doing it. However, I am always bothered by the stockpiles they feature. That’s just my own irritation based on my personality— I am such a proponent of donating and volunteering that I get a physiological reaction from watching stacks and stacks of things that others could really be using at that moment. Thanks for bringing out in your post that a lot of those extremists are actually donating even when it doesn’t look like it.


  2. Camille A. says

    Hi there!! I thought I would comment on the show from last night.. I’ve been couponing for 2 years but I am no where near extreme. I buy what my family uses. I thought all in all it was entertaining to watch, but I was very disappointed that one of the women featured told her husband to clear the shelves. I have been taught by numerous coupon blogs that this is not proper etiquette. I also wished the show would have talked about whether or not these people donate any of their products, but they didn’t. I think that is such a wonderful way to give back to the community, especially when so many families are still on a super tight budget. But, the show is for entertainment, and my husband and I thought it was fun to watch. Thanks!


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