Wow, last night I watched TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates and am literally disturbed by what I watched. Although I think a lot of it is for show, there are some things I want to point out to those of you who try to be thrifty and think this show is a good example of how to be frugal.
As a matter of fact, I’ll outline some things you should NEVER do to save money. The well being of your life isn’t worth these kinds of savings. These are things I actually saw on the show that I think are beyond sad.
1. Flushing the toilet once a week. This guy on the show flushed the toilet once a week by using old shower water that he collected through the week. This has got to be the worst idea of all time to save money on water. This guy said he saved around $15 a month on water. I’d rather burn $15 than do something that extreme.
2. Don’t use toilet paper. If you are thinking of doing this, please seek counseling. This person used a water bottle for number 1 and soap for number 2. You can always find awesome deals on TP with coupons and if you don’t like couponing, buy some single ply and WIPE people!
3. Dumpster diving for food. I do see some value in dumpster diving. I’ve seen friends find amazing furniture, electronics, etc. However, dumpster diving for food is NEVER ok. It’s beyond unsanitary and could easily make you very sick. Someone please get that lady some help.
4. Make your family suffer. Being frugal needs to take the backseat if your family is hurting from it. One of the men on the show was quite obviously making the life of his family very hard. He watched every dime they spent and was very controlling. Even to the point where he lied to his wife about his finances. Thrifty Divas are all about putting family first over savings and coupons.
5. Compromise your health and personal cleanliness. Some of these people were not bathing regularly so they can save money. Unfortunately you won’t be able to live long enough to enjoy the money you saved because you died of some communicable disease from not bathing!
Bottom line, saving money is awesome, but you have to live. You need to enjoy your life. You can’t take your money to the grave!
If you’ve watched Extreme Couponing at all, then you probably have a very strong opinion one way or the other. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it type of show, especially for those of us who put in some effort into saving money for our families.
In a reality-television inundated society, what does Extreme Couponing show us about ourselves?
Let me start on a positive note, the show reveals the growing desire to save money. Some families have been able to enjoy the blessing of stay-at-home motherhood because of the money saved through couponing. Even without that kind of family dynamic, saving money is always a good thing!
However, Extreme Couponing also touches on the apparent “voyerism” trend inherent in reality television. Make no mistake about it, Extreme Couponing is reality television. Just because people aren’t getting drunk, performing on a stage or trying to survive in the wilderness doesn’t make it any less reality TV. I have to confess that when I have watched the program, I always want to see what it is that these extreme couponers are buying to feed their families. I also have to confess that I have felt judgmental and self-righteous when I’ve seen grocery carts full of boxed, sugary cereals, sugary drinks and other processed junk food. I don’t feel so bad about not saving 99% on my grocery bill. Of course, it you do purchase the products in the Extreme Couponers carts, you may not feel the same way 😉
In addition to the personal curiosity, Extreme Couponing may be hitting a nerve relative to the economic fears and challenges we face as a nation right now. Other shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and “Hoarders” are, perhaps, another take on the “hoarding” mentality that we see on Extreme Couponing. While most seem happy to let their children and neighbors “shop” in their stockpile basements, I can’t help but wonder how many people want stockpiles like that “just in case…”
Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? What does Extreme Couponing tell us, not about the couponers on the show but about our society?
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?
Do you watch TLC’s Extreme Couponing show? It is the one show on television that makes me feel a little bit like Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched (I know that dates me!). I feel like I want to see exactly what they have stockpiled, what’s in their shopping carts and how many coupon inserts they have. Here are just a few thoughts on the show.
In general, it seems that much of what’s thrown into all the shopping carts of extreme couponers is cookies, cereal, candy and soda or some other sugary drink. Seeing that comforts me in a strange way. I still aim for as close to free as possible when I shop but not at the expense of eating as fresh and as organic as is financially feasible.
I think I’ve seen fresh, non packaged food twice on the Extreme Couponing show. I know that show and the shopping trips are set up to be the most dramatic savings. However, we buy much more fresh food than packaged food on any given week.
Some of the couponers have great stories, as they help support their families or support multiple families. Others seem to just enjoy the game. One woman bragged about clearing the shelves. She was happy to call herself a shelf-cleaner. I think that’s what separates the hoarders from the rest of us.
What makes me jealous and inspires me at the same time is seeing things our family would use: toilet paper, shampoo, laundry detergent, all kinds of soap, razors and DIAPERS! As I grow in my couponing and stockpiling, I aspire to have a nice stockpile of these items so that we can channel the money we spend on that elsewhere. We have two small children who will need to go to college and pay for weddings one day. Since that’s not free, I’m inspired to aim for free for other things.
What do you think of the Extreme Couponing show? Does it help you? Inspire you? Or, make you sick?