The Crazy Life of Extreme Couponers

Trista - November 8, 2021
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4. Extreme Couponing Doesn’t Tell You How Long it Takes to Become a Pro

The show usually features people who have become experts at couponing, but it doesn’t tell you how long they had to work to become proficient. For example, extreme couponer Stacy Fout said that she only had recently reduced her prep time to four to six hours after working at it for six whole years! She added that if you aren’t strategic, you could spend more gas money than you save.

Besides, the show was often unrealistic in its shopping portrayals. The shopping on the show is pretty near impossible to do in reality. Stores can close down for filming or reduce the number of other shoppers, reserve a special aisle for checkout, and sometimes even allow the TV couponer to buy pre-order what they would need to have it available in advance. The real world doesn’t work like that! 

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3. Some Stores Regret Filming Extreme Couponing

One show even stated that they made a “poor decision by participating,” and many stores felt like they struggled after featuring in the show. Unfortunately, the show made it seem like stores have no couponing policies, which can be quite unrealistic and lead to serious confusion for inexperienced couponers. Then, there were reports of coupon theft after the show! And, this crime really grew.

The show touted that you could only save money if you had enough coupons, which undoubtedly led misguided (and criminal) couponers to steal newspapers! Some reactions were so intense that newspapers even noticed a rise in coupon theft, specifically from newspapers that held the highest coupon value. Even though there were only five seasons of the show, you can still catch reruns on the air today, and as you know now, there were intensely split reactions as a result of the show.

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2. Claims of Scripted Shows About Couponers

One former participant explained that their entire show was entirely scripted and not just removing inappropriate phrases, for example. “The entire show is scripted,” they said. “The producer handed us coupons to give to the store and told us what to say,” they went on. Disappointing, but not unheard of considering the world of reality TV. Joanie Demer, a participant on the show and the co-founder of The Krazy Coupon Lady website, was featured on several media appearances, which is how Extreme Couponing producers found her.

In her episode, she bought four carts worth of groceries, stating, “it was completely insane!” She explained that it took months of planning, even writing to manufacturers to request coupons for discounts and free products. She even added a disclaimer: “It’s fun to flex your muscles and get to say, ‘look what I can do.’ That’s cool, and it made for great TV, but that was in no way a realistic portrayal of the amount of money that you can save on any given week couponing.”

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1. What Has Changed About Couponing?

Some changes, like more restrictive coupon policies, were direct results of the show, while others were due to the available technologies. Digital coupons and cash-back or rebate apps are just a few examples of new technologies that have revolutionized the couponing world. A decade ago, a show about spending over forty hours a week clipping and organizing coupons to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars was a see-it-to-believe-it phenomenon. As the series progressed, the shopping trips became more and more outrageous as each of the participants in the episode needed to outdo the previous shoppers. 

Yes, couponing has changed in many ways due to the show. However, some of the biggest changes aren’t related to the show at all. You may not be able to use 20 coupons and get 73 free mustard bottles today, but you can still stack coupons and save a good amount of money, then use a cash-back app for additional rebates after the fact. Today, there is a newer generation of couponers that may have never even seen Extreme Couponers. Couponing today is more about strategically spending a little bit of extra time on saving money. However, there will always be a subset of die-hard couponers that will walk around with their clipped coupons in organizers! 

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