A few months ago, I got an email from a producer on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, encouraging me to audition for their show.
At first, I was flattered – I mean, seriously? Me? How’d they even know about me?
But then, I got that red-flag feeling and decided to press delete.
You see, while I think it is SO important to show kosher-keepers that they, too, can save a significant amount of money on their grocery bill by using coupons, there is something very “treif” about these so-called extreme couponing methods.
From the snipits I’ve caught of the show online (we don’t have cable) and the various articles and blog posts I’ve read, Extreme Couponing is promoting a very distorted image of those of us who save money with coupons.
1. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot of money, you have to spend hours – and hours… and hours – a day on couponing!
To me, that just sounds like a huge waste of time… and money! I spend about 30-45 minutes getting ready for a coupon trip, which involves checking my meal plan, reviewing circulars, making my list and clipping/printing coupons. My goal is to be in and out of the store in under a half hour. If I’ve got kids with me, I try to do it even faster – because shopping with my toddler is NOT fun.
2. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot of money, you have to have a stockpile of toilet paper that will last until the next century!
But most items are on a 12-week sale cycle, which means that every 3 months or so, they are going to reach their rock bottom price. So stock up – but do so within reason. Another sale is just around the corner.
Of course, if you want to pick up a few extra packages to donate, then more power to you! But clearing the shelves just because you can? That crosses the line.
3. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot of money, we have to use coupons unethically.
To me, that sounds suspiciously like theft. One of this season’s couponers is a woman who less than two years ago was outed on a couponing forum for her unethical useage of coupons. (You can read more about that saga here.)
With so much money to be saved, there is no reason to play games with stores and manufacturers. Just stick to the rules of couponing.
4. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot of money, we have to dumpster dive for coupon inserts.
To me, that sounds gross. Each Sunday, I get one copy of the paper, delivered to my home. If there are a ton of crazy good coupons, I might drop by the Dollar Tree to pick up a second copy. I love printable coupons – and yes, I do sometimes ask my husband to print a second set of coupons for me. Oh, and I have a subscription to All You Magazine.
And yet, despite my rather UNextreme compilation of coupon inserts, I still manage to spend no more than $500 a month for groceries and household items. For a kosher-keeping family of five, I feel pretty good about that.
5. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot of money, we can’t buy anything unless it has a coupon.
To me that sounds limiting and unrealistic. I’d estimate that I use coupons about half the time. My trips to CVS, Target and Hen House (our local grocery store that doubles coupons) are typically coupon-heavy. But Costco and Walmart? Almost never. And in the summer, I’m thrilled to get most of our fresh produce from an organic CSA co-op.
6. TLC seems to be telling us that in order to save a lot money, you have to eat only processed foods – and keeping kosher is probably out of the question, too.
To me that sounds like a major turn-off. If my big money-saving strategy was to feed my family cereal and Ramen Noodles twice a day, I’m guessing we’d “waste” as much on doctor’s bills as we “saved” on grocery bills.
Yes, I do buy my share of foods that come in a box or bag, but I also buy organic produce, kosher meat and dairy, and whole grains. It’s not as sensational to say this, but rest assured, you can still save big AND eat a balanced, healthy, kosher diet. Heck, you can even do it shopping at Whole Foods!
You see, when I put it all that together like this, it makes perfect sense that I wouldn’t be a good candidate for a show called Extreme Couponing.
Now if there was a show called Save hundreds of dollars every month without hoarding, stealing, diving into dumpsters or making yourself sick-Couponing … well, then TLC: I’d be your kosher-keeping, couponing gal.
Now that you know what I think, I’d love to hear from you, too: Have you caught Extreme Couponing on TLC? What did you think of the show?