14 Thoughts on the Reality of Coupon Shopping

Reality television over the past few years has taken a look at saving money coupon shopping.  The show, “Extreme Couponing“, is just one of the reality shows out there following a “coupon lady” from store to store.  But what happens when the reality of real life competes with reality tv?  reality tv coupon shopping

Because I can never pass up a reality tv show (yep, I really need to get a life), I sat down and watched several episodes.  If you aren’t familiar, Extreme Couponing follows a “coupon lady” around as they show us their couponing routine and how they can save ridiculous amounts of money at the grocery store.  We get to watch them collecting coupons, we watch them shopping and we see their grocery stashes of piles and piles of free or next to free stuff.  And we come away with the idea that maybe, just maybe, we can do this too!  With the economy the way it is today, saving big bucks at the grocery store is definitely appealing.

So, I did a bit of research on the subject and a bit of experimenting on my part and I thought I might share my findings with you.
reality tv coupon shopping

1.  Reality TV Mrs. Freestuff collects her coupons by printing off of the internet, and hoarding unwanted newspapers from dumpsters.  She spends up to 8-10 hours a day on the internet on various sites, collecting and printing and then cutting those coupons.  She prints the maximum number allowed and sometimes has as much as 100 of the same coupon.

2.  The reality– First of all, I do not have the time in my day to add another 8-10 hours of internet couponing.  My husband would totally divorce me.  I did find a user friendly site call Coupons.com that offers daily printables.  This site is a time-saver, so if you are thinking about taking this on, I would suggest starting there.  You can sign up for emailed coupons which can save even more time.   As for dumpster diving.  Really?  Isn’t that illegal? Reality TV or not, I think I will pass.  I instead went to the store and bought two Sunday papers.  And when I got home, I discovered that some coupon lady had already taken the coupons from my papers before I bought them.  Turns out that is a common occurrence according to the grocery store.  Already I’m learning things the hard way.

3. Lessons learned Find a user-friendly coupon site that will email coupons to you.  Check your newspapers before you purchase them.

reality tv coupon shopping

4.  Reality TV Mrs. Clipomaniac organizes all her coupons in massive filing cabinets by product.  She then peruses all the sales papers and organizes her coupons by item and where they are located in the store in huge binders.  She makes up a list of sale items in the store, how many coupons she has for that item and what her final cost will be.   She shops at many different grocery stores in order to take advantage of all the current sales.

5. The reality Do I really want a divorce that bad?  Seriously, I do not have this kind of time.  Instead, I purchased a three ring binder and some photograph insert pages so that I can put my coupons where I can see them.  I only clipped those coupons for items that we normally buy, so no need for the huge filing cabinet.  I really hate to grocery shop and can’t imagine spending a day going from one grocery store to another, so already I know that I am not cut out to be a coupon lady.

6.  Reality TV- Mrs. Grab-it-all goes to the store with her 100+ coupons for Strawberry flavored Pepto Bismol and because she is double couponing and the item is on sale for half price, she can get that bottle of Pepto for free.  So she empties the shelf of 100 bottles of Strawberry flavored Pepto Bismol.  What?  Somebody else has a coupon and wants a bottle?  Too bad, so sad.  Extreme couponing is for the thick-skinned.  Tough it up.

7.  The reality– Really?  One family needs 100 bottles of Pepto Bismol?  Mrs. Grab-it-all must have a major intestinal issue.  Aside from the guilt for taking an entire display of products before anybody else can take advantage of the sale, I doubt that anyone can use up 100 bottles of stomach medicine before the expiration date.  In my opinion, this is gluttony 101.

reality tv coupon shopping

8. Reality TV– Mrs. Shop-to-you-drop spends eight hours shopping in the grocery store, collecting hundreds of items in multiple carts.  She then spends an additional 2 hours at the check out, carefully monitoring each item as it is rung up and correcting the cashier when needed.

9.  The reality– My husband would never last past the first ten minutes.  He would be checking in on a cruise to Acapulco with his new wife by the time I got halfway through the check out.  I would probably need those 100 bottles of Pepto about now.

10.  Reality TV– Mrs. Buyitall is apparently allowed to bypass some of the coupon restrictions that us real folks have to follow.  Seems that some of the stores represented on the show are allowing such things as doubling coupons they don’t normally double, using coupons for incorrect items and even giving cash back if the coupon value is higher than the product.  Why?  Because they want to be on the show, silly.  See this enlightening article by Jill Cataldo regarding potential coupon fraud on Extreme Couponing.

11.  The reality– A bunch of stores do not double coupons.  Those that do, generally will not double over 50 cents.  Some have restrictions on number of same coupon in one sale.  There are rules folks.  And nobody gives you cash back from overages. At least not in my state.  Leaving the store with $1,100 dollars worth of groceries for $6.50 is not reality.

reality tv coupon shopping

12.  Reality TV– Mrs. Monsterstash has food and products stored all over her house.  She has more products than she and her family could ever use.  Some she doesn’t even know what they are.  She says, “Those cases over there are some face stuff that I got for free a year or so ago.  I just had to pay tax, so I had to get them”.  She has moved the hubby out of his study and created a new stockroom there, because there is no longer any room left in the bedroom for her monstrous stash.

13.  The realityYep.  I’d be living alone with my dogs, my knitting and my stash of Strawberry flavored Pepto Bismol.

14.  Conclusion– There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to save money and clipping coupons is certainly a great way to do that.  Just remember that what you may see on TV is not always the case.  Sometimes reality TV is not really reality.  Know what I mean?

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