I finally sat down this afternoon and watched the two new episodes of Extreme Couponing. I have to say I was really happy to see that they did some some reality mixed in with the extremity.
Reality 1: Store coupon policies do change from day to day, sometimes from store to store and even from cashier to cashier. The policy you totally thought you understood yesterday and the deal that worked just fine, may be completely different tomorrow. You may remember my posts regarding the insanity of Kroger's Daytona Mega Sale, and their coupon policies have continued to change since then. Wal-mart's coupon policy has changed at least 5 times since the first of the year!
Reality 2: To get 90% savings you really have to STOCK UP! I was impressed to see that at least 2 of the shoppers walked out with 90% savings and still managed to walk out of the store with actual meat in their baskets and not just boxes of cereal and jars of mustard. But, considering what it took for that to happen, I doubt it was worth the time. I doubt that had this not been for a television show, that those couponers would have really called in friends to help them check out. I doubt seriously that their average grocery trip before coupons is 20% of what they were dealing with on these trips.
Reality 3: Shelf Clearers suck! At least on the first session of Extreme Couponing we got to see Nathan Engels from WeUseCoupons show some integrity by calling in special orders rather than clearing shelves. I don't care what it is, if you are buying 50 or more of something do a special order and leave some on the shelf for the rest of us. That's just rude!
Reality 4: Couponing is a trade-off. You can save plenty through couponing without letting couponing run your life and take over your home, if you choose to do so. But, if you aren't careful, couponing can quickly become an obsession. It's ok to miss a deal now and then, some things are more important. And if your children's playroom is stocked with can goods, you have to ask yourself will they really appreciate all this time and effort you are spending to save for their college? Or will they just wish they had time with you and toys to play with?
A friend of mine came over to watch the show with me. She's new to couponing and when we were done watching I could tell she was disappointed. She was hoping for a show that was a little more educational that taught her something about couponing. Instead, she said we were given a new version of "Hoarders". Sad, but true.
Nathan Engels is scheduled to be back on Extreme Couponing next week and I've heard that he's going to be talking some about the donation possibilities that become available to use through the use of coupons. If you saw the first episode of Extreme Couponing, you saw where he built a giant tower out of Total Cereal before donating it to a local food bank (along with much of the rest of the groceries he bought for the show). I've learned a lot through Mr.Coupon's forums at WeUseCoupons.com and he has a lot he can teach those who want to learn about the proper ways to use coupons and the realities of doing so. About how couponing can help us save money for our family and help us give to others. I really hope they give him the chance to do so on the next episode and that we see the show become a little more about educating those who want to learn how to save money, rather than just highlighting how obsessive some couponers can be.