Extreme Nonsense

20 Jul

I caught my first episode of Extreme Couponing the other day and it provoked a rant. You’ve been warned.

Yes, you can save a bajillion dollars at the store by clipping hundreds of coupons and doubling up and watching sales and all of that. I actually do some of that by matching up coupons with sales or using a store coupon on top of a manufacturer’s coupon or bonus card deals. On average, I save about $20 off my family’s $150 weekly grocery bill that way. That’s not my problem with this show. If you have the time and energy for such things, have at it and rock on.

Here’s my issue: the woman I watched on my inaugural episode saved something like $430 off a $500 grocery order. Fine. Know what she bought?

Dozens of boxes of candy.

Several cases of soda.

A cart full of toilet paper.

Multiple boxes of breakfast pastries.

Cases of canned soup.

The list goes on. Sugar, fat, salt, chemical preservatives, and some paper, pretty much. Which left me wondering exactly what she must feed her family.

Listen, I am no angel. Take me to a restaurant and the first thing I’m going to do is order a Coke–high-test, full-sugar, and totally caffeinated (I don’t, though, keep any in the house, so points for me there). You’ll find a box of Pop Tarts in my pantry that DH picks from all week long, and the kids get Doritos in their lunch boxes. They’ve had Twinkies and Spaghetti-O’s and Easy Mac and all that good stuff. Not regularly, but they know what they taste like. And yes, we buy toilet paper and paper towels in bulk.

But if you open my refrigerator, you’ll also find oranges. Plums. Grapes. Cherries. Lettuce. Cucumbers. Milk. Fresh, antibiotic-free poultry. Whole oats. My grocery cart is overwhelmingly filled with unprocessed ingredients in their natural state, complimented by some convenience foods (we’re addicted to low-fat Wheat Thins and the occasional granola bar) and the occasional treat–low-fat ice cream sandwiches, at the moment.

You will not find 37 boxes of Warheads. You will not see my children drinking soda; they’ve never tried it, have never asked for it, and I have no plans to change that, knowing what we know about it. And you absolutely will not see me buying boxed or canned crap food just because I can save a lot of money.

Which, of course, is what Extreme Couponing is all about–shopping to the coupons, buying whatever’s cheap, and taking the easiest, most chemical-laden way out when it comes to the “food” that goes into their families’ mouths.

I get the Sunday paper for the coupons. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only reason to subscribe, as the actual newspaper suffers from a sad dearth of actual information. And every Sunday, I sit and cut them out, and read the sale fliers to try and save what I can. But I will not shop to the coupons. And I’m pretty well disgusted at the television network for holding such a strategy up to the rest of us as some kind of example.

Check out the show. Look at what these people are putting in their carts. Think about the reasons we all work hard at our jobs–for the health and well-being of our families, yes? The two seem pretty mutually exclusive to me.

I hope someday there’s a show about real people shopping for real families that shows us how to save money and still eat in a reasonable manner. Until then, you don’t have to stand in line behind me for Extreme Couponing. That’s one train wreck I’ll gladly avert my eyes from, any day of the week.

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5 Responses to “Extreme Nonsense”

  1. Ali July 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I could not agree with you more!! I watched it and thought – that woman just purchased 12 bottles of mustard. How much mustard does a family of four go thru in a year. I also saw lots of sugary cereals, sodas, juice, etc.

    I love to take a trip to a warehouse store as much as the next person but I always consider if I need two of something let alone a dozen.

  2. Kristen July 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Amen. Those Coupon Ladies are just a sub-category of Hoarders. Their basements and garages are filled with a ba-zillion boxes of sugary, hyper-processed, chemical-laden food, that even if someone gave me for free, I wouldn’t eat. And they are all fat. (You were thinking that too, right?)

    Ok, admittedly, I am not skinny. But I cook healthy meals for my family. Cook. As in, do not heat up in the microwave. I see no need for 125 bottles of orange soda. Even if it is free. Someone should tell those Coupon-ers, while the food might be free, having a family full of Type 2 diabetics isn’t.

    The only redeeming factor of the show was one woman who donated laundry soap, wipes, shampoo, etc. to a shelter. Even I would coupon for that.

  3. Ken July 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I haven’t seen the show but I have flirted with being a coupon clipper.

    My experience is both with the Sunday coupons and this online thing called The Grocery Game. What gets to me is that there is rarely anything that appeals to me. There’s only two of us so we don’t need “Buy 4, get 1 Free” or any of the rest of it. Every now and then, there may be a coupon worth $.50 or $1.00 but, for the life of me, I can never figure out how to save the gazillions people talk about.

    I’ve even read the books about shopping the outside perimeter of the store, working strictly from a list, visiting several stores. My guess is all this kind of stuff is geared to the “family of four” with two working adults who barely have time to change clothes and throw a meal together with commitments to soccer, dance, music, PTSA, and more.

    As to your larger point about the fat, salt, sugar, and processed food: welcome to the world of AgriBiz. We subsidize sugar so it’ll be nice and cheap. Ditto corn (yay for High Fructose CORN Syrup). I could go on.

    America is fat for a reason and coupons are just a small part of it.

  4. Shawne July 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Love your site and email updates. Couldn’t agree with you more on the Extreme Couponing blog. Loved your rant!

  5. krishna July 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    You read my mind after watching the first episode of that show. I use coupons for mostly non-food items and i don’t buy multiple of everything like they do.

    I think we need a show on how to shop and cook healthy on a budget. Notice most of those people have a weight problem???

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