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Extreme Couponing: Classic Time vs. Money Dilemma

Reality television shows are getting more and more “extreme.” Whether it’s families with enough kids to field a football team or people who tip the scales at several hundred pounds, it seems like the television watching public is obsessed with any extreme. The “first” reality show was basically extreme living on a remote island – remember the first season of Survivor? (surprisingly, I’ve never watched a full episode of Survivor, not sure how I avoided it)

Well, the latest “craze” seems to be a show called Extreme Couponing [3]. If you haven’t seen the show, it basically follows people who buy a ton of stuff without paying a lot of money. There’s a lot of fake drama, as they talk about how they only budgeting $300 for groceries this month but the tally, before coupons, is up in the several hundreds of dollars. There’s some fake “worry” as the cashier starts scanning coupons and then shots of the manager and other people standing around watching.

Extreme is not the right name for this show, it should be called Excessive Couponing. Deadliest Catch is appropriately named – people die up there. It’s not extreme, it’s excessive.

As for the savings, I’m all for saving money and couponing is a fantastic way to do it but let’s not forget that couponing takes time. It can take a lot of time if you aren’t efficient at it and aren’t as organized as some of the people on the show. It takes time to organize the trip, make the purchase, and then take your haul back home to stack in your pantry/extra storage space. I don’t know how long that takes but as satisfying as getting a billion cans of frozen juice may be, how much time is spent organizing and storing the product?

I was also bothered by the faux drama. Anyone who does couponing like this knows exactly how much it’ll cost them out of pocket. You don’t put 80 bags of croutons into your cart and not know that each one will be free after you scan the coupon. There are entire websites and subscription services devoted to telling you where to get the coupons you need, what stores to go to for maximum savings, and you’d never pack your cart without knowing the end result.

Many things in life are this trade-off between time and money. When it comes to changing the oil in your car, you can either spend an hour+ to do it yourself (including buying the oil/filter, changing it, disposing of both, and cleaning up) or you can roll into a quick oil change shop, wait fifteen to twenty minutes, and be out the door after paying a $50+ bill. (if you have even more time, less than $20 and a few hours waiting at Wal-Mart will do the trick too)

As for the people on the show, kudos to you. You have serious organizational skills and you deserve to benefit from it.

Have you seen Extreme Couponing? What do you think of the show?

(Photo: bargainbriana [4])