Extreme Couponing: Unrealistic?

Posted on June 1st, 2012 by Coupon Cathy

I am amazed at the following that TLC’s Extreme Couponing show has. People LOVE that show. And I get it! Regular people, stay at home moms, single parents and even college students spending pennies on hundreds of dollars worth of groceries. That’s the appeal of shows like this. It shows regular people doing extraordinary things. But I am here to tell you that it may be extraordinary, but it’s also out of the ordinary. It’s definitely not common and in a way I think it’s very unrealistic for coupon virgins to watch this show and expect these kinds of savings all the time.

If you know anything about the entertainment industry, you know that the point is purely entertainment. These people are these shows don’t buy like this often. Most of them spend months preparing for a haul like you see on the show. It’s not just your typical Sunday afternoon clipping, it’s days and countless hours of planning.

So why is “extreme couponing” unrealistic? Here are a few reasons.

1. Most people don’t have the time. Like I said, that kind of couponing takes times. As a mother of two young children and a wonderful husband that likes a home cooked meal, I DO NOT have hours to coupon. I just don’t. I would assume that you don’t either. Don’t try, it’s not worth it. Yes, those people get a lot of free groceries, but at what expense?

2. These people have been doing this for years. The people on this show know a thing or two or everything about couponing. I would say that most of the people watching this show don’t have near the experience. You wouldn’t go run a marathon without training right? Same goes for this. These people know store policies, they know where to find coupons, they know how to organize. I would even venture to say some of these people are career couponers. I however, am not.

3. These people are going back to the store tomorrow. Have you noticed on the show that you never see milk, cheese, yogurt, fresh produce or meat? It’s because they can’t get extreme deals on those items. So although that day they saved a ton of money, it may not have been on the right things. But it looked good once everything was scanned and the totals up. All of those other items would have marked up the price way more!

What do you think about Extreme Couponing? Do you watch it? Do you think it’s unrealistic?


  1. Michelle June 1, 2012

    Cathy you are one smart Coupon Savvy Chic!! Thank you for pointing out the reality of couponing!!! I totally agree that alot of folks seem to buy Junk whenever I watch that show. I have to buy Gluten Free and Regular groceries and our grocey bill is still high even with coupons! I would like to see TLC show how the average person really shops, and when saving $60 at Super Target makes there day and helps them afford to get more groceries and buy those little extras we all like. The only one I was ever impressed with was the Vegan shoppper becuase she was able to work special dietary needs. That show is extremely unrealistic but very entertaining.

  2. Betty June 1, 2012

    There are no stores that double or triple in my town. That, and two diabetics and a gluten free to buy for, it is next to impossible to get a cart full of groceries for a couple of dollars.

  3. Heather June 1, 2012

    I think that show is extremely unrealistic most of the extreme couponers commit coupon fraud but the stores don’t care because the money they lose is still cheaper than a commercial but normal every day people can’t go to a store and do that. I have food allergies I have to watch out for. My goal is to double the amount of groceries I can bring home with my budget. If can bring home $200 worth of groceries for $100 it’s a good day. A year ago I was barely feeding my family now I have a stockpile that would last 6 months if my husband was ever out of work. I think that is a more realistic goal to work toward because you could work yourself to death trying to get $1000 worth of groceries for $5.00.

  4. Diane June 2, 2012

    Cathy I totally agree with you. I work full time and I don’t have the time to spend on couponing like I would like to. I am just happy if I save something every week at the grocery store. Every little bit helps. My husband is thankful for any kind of savings. The show sure has changed couponing for everyone!! The stores sure have revised their coupon policies because of this show. I know last year that I save a lot more then this year. The show is just for entertainment and makes us couponers look like we are freaks!! I still get looks at the store when I go. I don’t care because I am saving money! Thank you for all of your tips. Keep up the great work!!!

  5. Lucki June 2, 2012

    Thank You!!!! Admitted, I watch these brilliant mathematicians in awe, imagining the magic I could create with 400 toothbrushes to donate or the cloud-like euphoria of never having to buy tissue again. But like so many other families, we do not eat tissue! A grocery cart containing a balanced diet is definitely Not what is on sale. I can easily find free snacks, cookies, cake mix and cola, but I must search and price match three times as hard for any savings at all on basic veggies, dairy or meat :/ And as Betty stated above about her town, our stores do not triple or double either, so it truly can be a “labor” of frugality.

  6. Jill Wagenaar June 3, 2012

    I agree! What you see on T.V. is unrealistic. I put in time and the most I saved was 70%. I would like to see a show on a real person on a weekly shopping trip with minimum hours of prep.

  7. Diane S. June 3, 2012

    I agree!! The T.V. show is very unrealistic. My local grocery store doubles coupons but you can’t just buy what they do. You need meat and veggies as well. I think the show has ruined couponing for everyone! All the stores have changed their polices. It is nice that you can get all that stuff but really! If I get anything extra or for free I donate it to our food pantry at church.

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