Extreme Couponing: When Do We Go Too Far?

Some of you may be aware that there is a new reality show starting Wednesday night on TLC called Extreme Couponing.  I thought it would be a lesson in how to stockpile food however some of the clips were of a shopper buying 1100 boxes of cereal in one trip.  Or of someone stockpiling enough toilet paper to last them 40 years. Or how about buying extra insurance for your stockpile?  Huh?!?

So, I’m going to ask you, when is enough enough?  Do we really need that much toilet paper or cereal?

I know some of you, and me included, buy things that make us money even if we do not use them or need them.  Those items we promptly put into our food bank pile.  But, why do we need to buy enough to last us a lifetime?   What is the point, and why do we need to go that far?

There are different levels of couponers.  There are those that clip from the Sunday paper and march in with their 2 or 3 coupons and use them to buy products at full price.  There are those that have a coupon envelope and use about 10 coupons a week without paying attention to the sales.  There are those, me included, that buy about 4 – 6 newspapers a week and match their coupons with the sales to get the best price.  And, then there are those that get over 500 coupons a week, spend upwards of 20 hours a week planning their deals and have a stockpile that would last them a year or two.  I’m going to use personal experience to help shed some light as to why, I think,  we don’t need to be that extreme.

I have a family of 5, with 3 young adult children.  So, 5 adults in one house.  My grocery bill, before couponing, was $275 a week.  Now my grocery bill averages $50 a week.  I used to spend $14,300 a year on groceries and health and beauty aid products.  I now spend $2600 a year.  That is a savings of $11,700 a year or $975 a month.  My stockpile consists of a filled pantry the size of a regular, double door clothing closet.  I have a chest freezer filled and a toilet paper stockpile of about 4 – 8 packs.  I also have a linen closet with 3 shelves filled with health and beauty aid products.  So, yes, I have a nice stockpile but my stockpile looks like it belongs in a dollhouse compared to the stockpiles depicted on the show.  And,  I have so much extra, that I give products away to my family members and food banks.  Plus, I take a couple of weeks off from shopping about every 6 weeks or so.

So, I ask you, why do we need to do couponing to the extreme of turning our entire garage into a stockpile?  I have way more then I need and  I have enough to donate.  Plus I’m only spending $2600 a year.

Now, I know we all have different family situations and one persons stockpile would not be near enough for anothers.  But when is enough enough?  Do we really need enough toilet paper to last us 40 years?  Do we need to buy 1100 boxes of cereal in one trip, even if some are being donated?

You may enjoy reading an article I wrote in the beginning of the year called, So Many Deals, So Little Time. There really are so many deals and we just don’t need to take advantage of all of them to save money.  There needs to be a happy medium.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  When does Extreme couponing cross the line?

The links in the post above may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.
  • Amy

    I have only just begun my couponing and spend regular price on most things. Part of my problem is having the $ beforehand, time to shop all the stores with 3 young kids, and not using what is on sale. But, I think a few months supply is always a good thing

  • Kim

    Well when it is just 2 adults and a infant/toddler do you really need to be extreme as Nate is? NO there is NO need of it and it puts those that coupon to survive and also help out food banks in a “bad” category. I mean when you go with coupons they go oh here we go they are going to clear the shelves and everything. Get enough for your family for a couple months at a time to a year but too go way over Just NO NEED..ALL the FOOD and Toiletries they have in their stockpile that would help so many food pantries and shelters. It is ashame it really is. I don’t care if they ‘try’ to glamorize or add to the show they stockpile EXTREMELY. They should be ashamed and I know lots that Extreme stockpile sell at yard sales to make money off stuff THEY DIDN”T PAY FOR…

    • stephanie

      Here is what I do. I buy what I need for my family and try to stock pile for a year. I do not clear shelves. I go to different stores and buy a few of the item from each. Like if I have 5 Rite Aids and want 25 of something I will go buy 5 from each. On Saturday evenings before the store closes I will clear off shelves if it’s a good donation item. I donate things I don’t use, I also resell things. I know you say its wrong to sell stuff you didn’t pay for…however I am a stay at home mom and we don’t have a big income and until I can go to work it is our way of life. My husband works, but this is a little extra money. It doesn’t make us a profit, it simply keeps everything rolling. I do not use yard sales. I sell it to family members and friends who do not have time to coupon, but can still afford stuff. So, I am helping them out as well. They get stuff cheap, but dont have to do all the couponing work that they do not have time for. I give away stuff to those who can’t. Didn’t know if that made you look at it in another way. I don’t go after every deal. Just reasonable.

      • D

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to sell items you paid little to nothing for. I have done it on occasion myself. I have friends and neighbors who don’t, nor do they have any intention of, couponing like I do, so if I find a deal at a store for an item they need and it’s super cheap, they get a way better deal getting it from me (ie: not full price) and I make a little money for my TIME and efforts. (clipping, money to buy the paper, gas, etc.) That’s how I look at it. Plenty of jobs out there are merely people paying someone else for their TIME. This is no different, in my mind. I also give away lots of stuff to family members, I buy stuff for my elderly grandmother who doesn’t have a lot of money to buy items she needs, and I donate to various places when it’s something my family won’t use. 🙂 I think everyone makes out ok in the end.

        • stephanie

          Agree 🙂
          I see it the same way you do.

      • Heather

        I do the same thing. I definitely buy more than we can use, but I am a stay at home mom of 3 and I resell some of the things I buy. I love using coupons and getting good deals, and the members of my aunt’s church are mostly on limited income and they don’t have/take the time to use coupons. I go once every 3 months or so and set up a little grocery store. They love getting good buys and I love being able to help them get better-than-grocery-store prices. I think we have a win win situation. BUT, do I buy 1,100 boxes of cereal at one time? NO!!! I think that’s absurd and I can’t imagine what the people at the store think! That being said, yes, I’ll be watching this evening. If it starts to frustrate me, I’ll just turn it off 🙂

  • Kathy

    Putting your children in a dumpster to find coupons is insane.

    • Tina

      Yeah, especially when you can buy whole inserts for cheap. She needs a good coupon clipping site!

    • CJ

      There’s a big difference between diving in a dumpster of recyclable newspapers and one that has trash in it. As far as I could tell, they were only in a newspaper recycling bin so I dont see any health hazard there. I climbed into all kinds of dumpsters when I was a kid – it was fun and I lived 🙂

  • I’m so glad to see that there are others out here with a sane approach to couponing. I posted pretty much the same thoughts on my blog (both when I first read about the TLC show and again today after watching the preview on GMA)

  • Paulette G.

    I’m thankful that I’m not that bad, I think that a lot of couponers take it to the extreme. Its sad really. That man wont use all that dressing before it expires. I think ppl extreme coupon to make up for other things that they may be having problems within their own lives. My friend came to visit last summer and drove me nuts with her couponing, we were out all five nights till sometimes 3 am. and most of the day also. My daughter was sick and needed to go to the Dr and my friend snapped at me because I wanted to take her!! She told me I didn’t come here on vaca to sit in a dr’s office!! I said to her, Well my kid is sick!!

  • Anya S

    I agree with the happy medium. I have enough to get me from one sale (with coupons of course!) to the next, if I run out before then it won’t be a travesty. But there is no way I am going to start carrying so much stock that I will need to start DUSTING it lol.

    • Cindy

      there is no way I am going to start carrying so much stock that I will need to start DUSTING

      OMG, I love it 🙂

    • Kurt

      Same here.

  • Jason

    I don’t coupon heavily every single week, but when there’s a good sale, I ‘stock up’. This week I received 30 Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese and 24 of those Wonka gummies along with other merchandise for under $2.00, but that is my limit. I am not going to stock up on Stouffer’s by purchasing 400 boxes at one time; it’s just impractical, and more-so, plain GREEDY. My morals tell me that receiving 30 free boxes of mac and cheese is more than enough, but these couponers just wipe the shelves, which is just horrible. They give a bad name to couponers young (like me) and old, and make it seem like such a bad thing.

    I would just be plain EMBARRASSED if I had a stockpile that large in my garage.. It disgusts me, to be honest.

    On a brighter note, couponing IS a way of life. It is if you purchase 10 boxes of cereal for 9 cents each for your family of 5, or 15 rolls of toilet paper for $0 OOP to last for one month. It IS ethical to repeat a money-making transaction 4, 5, or even 6 to 7 times if you only do it once in a while, but I would definitely not repeat money-making transactions 7 times every single week. Once in a while is practical, every week is NOT.

    The first time I came onto this site, I was overwhelmed and even thought about copying coupons, because it was such a newfound and amazing experience to receive free food from Shoprite and even earn some money. I now understand the ethics of couponing and try not to overdo it. I mean, getting 50 packages of free products every 2 to 3 months isn’t that bad, is it? Plus, I’m sharing with my friends. 😛

    These are just the thoughts of a 17-year-old who is trying to help his parents take the stress off paying the ‘food’ portion of the monthly bill, and this site has helped a lot.

    • Cindy

      Jason you are a wise young man. Well said. Your parents should be very proud of you!!

    • Mel

      I am so impressed by you, Jason. Keep doing what you do!

      • Jason

        Thank you. 😛 I try my hardest.

    • Mel

      I am so impressed by you, Jason. Keep doing what you do! And tell your friends!

  • Michelle

    I put a limit on my stockpile. I stock pile laundry items, health and beauty items , paper products to the most 6 months . Food maybe 3 months. I remeber my when my grandmother passed away, she was always stockpiling and had enormous shelves in the basement but she never rotated anything . Most was expired when we cleaned out the house not by months but by YEARS. It is not saving money if you can not use it in a reasonable amount of time and has to be thrown out due to spoilage

  • Cindy D

    As a mother of 2 teens that for some reason feel you must use 1 roll of toilet paper per day I would love love love to have a stack of toilet paper that high. Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to get it low OOP.

  • Denise

    This extreme couponing seems more like hoarding to me!

    • kathy

      It absolutely is hoarding, and a mental illness. I saw the preview of the new show, and was horrified. These people DO NOT represent the average couponer, but will do so much to give us a bad name. Now, there will be a stigma once again to couponing ~ only now we will be seen as hoarders.

    • Michelle

      I noticed that many of them seem to suffer from OCD as well. The only person I was somewhat comfortable with was the woman from Philly who seemed to only purchase what she needed and shared her expertise with friends. Yeah she walked on Sunday mornings for two hours to collect coupons from neighbors, but heck I need to get out and do that. What a way to stay healthy and connect with your community… The others just seemed selfish to me.

  • Donna

    And for all you stockpilers, Pathmark has 40 sq ft. rolls of Christmas wrapping paper for 99¢ at 75% off, making the roll just a QUARTER. Get ’em while they’re hot! LOL

  • Chris

    I buy 2-4 newspapers a week . Thanks to you and a couple other sites, I have cut our weekly grocery/pharmacy budget from $200 a week to about $125 a week in the last year. Personally, I think that if there is going to be such a show, it would be nice to see reasonable examples. Something that might inspire people to take the time and to save some money. The way the economy is, there are many who could really benefit from the education. An “extreme” show will probably just give those around me even more reason to pick on couponing…..

    • Mel

      So weird. Literally the day before this show was advertised, my brother suggested I pitch a ‘regular’ couponing show.

  • annette vento

    well, i must admit that when i see a great deal i grab it…and will do it again and again..i love a great bargain. i have been in stores with customers who do this type of thing. for example one woman bought at least 40 bottles of palmolive dish detergent when it was on sale for .98..i mean her cart was filler to the brim,overflowing. and then it hit me. how much is too much? where is the line between smart and greedy? its different for everyone and it IS A FINE LINE. thankfully this year i was able to clear my pantry and donate to local food shelters. and im still good for at least two weeks.im a stay at home mom and my hubby a marine, we are a family of three on one income and as we all know it can get tough. i started couponing not only out of need but becuase i figured it was the smart thing to do. i did get to a point where i had to give away to neighbors as the expiration dates were nearing and my family couldnt eat another pringles chip without getting sick. lol it makes me laugh so hard!but again that fine line is different for all of us as we all know our own happy medium. i think its always important to remember not to bite off more than we can chew. now back to printing coupons for more nearly free stuff!! lol

  • Andrea

    All I can say is WOW! I felt guilty the other day for getting 7 free cans of soup because I knew I had 5 at home already. Don’t feel so bad now…

  • Sherri

    I think when we firdtd start off seriously couponing, w can ovedo it real easily. But what is the worst thing that can happen? We donate our extras to the poor and needy, and to tell you thr truth, it is not so bad into doing this. I do say that (not so bad) is even though that they do need the suplies, we can get a bit embarrised giving sooo much free stuff to them. I myself because I was able to obtain so many free items was worried that they would call the police when I donated 25 blood monitors, around 100 travel size first aid kits, and about a dozen book bags, and hundreds of school suplies to the local food bank. You see most of the items I bought were combined with other coupons (say $5 off $25 order, etc) so that I would be able to get the items that I needed for free. I just went and purchased gift cards and combined them so that I could get the items that I wanted for free, and donated the items that I do not need to the food bank. Anyways nothing happened to me. No police investigation of any sort. I do hit people that do want to know how I get so many items for free and refer them to your web sight.

    At the beginning, there is a learning curve that one has to learn as to what is enough that one can stock into their house. Oviously, over 1000 boxes of cereal is too many as well as having toilet paper to last one 40+ years. There is no way either one will stay fresh. Even toilet paper will disintergrate as well as cereal will go stale. I personally say on prepackaged food items, not to go more than 6 months and toiletries, no more than one year. As a golden rule, no mre than anything perishable. Of course there are exceptions. (expiration dates)

    Anyways, have fun shopping, saving and giving!!!

  • Pam

    I saw the ads for the show and I do think they are much too extreme in their stockpiling and couponing. I use a fair amount to coupons each week to feed 3 preteens/teens who are starting to eat A LOT. I have cut our food budget by a couple hundred dollars a month. I do stockpile food and toiletries but within limits. I just do not have the room. When it starts to be too much, we donate and share. There are definite benefits to having a resasonable stockpile. My daughter was able to donate 50 items in her schools food drive this fall. I was able to make up a food basket full of soups and other canned goods to give as a gift to someone who loves soup. There is absolutely NO reason why one person would need 1100 boxes of cereal or 40 years of toilet paper. There are too many people in need to hoard that much for yourself.

  • chris d

    I feel that it depends on the situation an individual may be in. For instance I have always been a stockpiler. 2 years ago I lost my job, I made a very good living at a retail establishment, I did not need to use coupons but I did. I have a theory that one should always be prepared for anything in life. When I lost my job I had a big enough stock pile for my family of 5 to live off of for 1 year. My family of 5 consists of myself, my 11 year old son, disabled brother, and 2 disabled elderly parents. This leaves not 1 working person in the house, I have not been able to find a job to replace the one I lost yet.

    Having my 1 year stockpile was fantastic, it has enabled me to provide for my family without sacrificing much at all. Since I already stock piled before the job loss, it was very easy to transfer into supersaver mode. I dropped my grocery budget from $300 a week to just $100 per week. (9 out of 10 weeks I only spend $49 to $75). Some weeks I don’t shop at all. The past two weeks I have only spent $27 total.( in Dec).

    While providing for my family and building my stock pile I also stock pile for a soup kitchen and local food pantry. My disabled brother is on assistance programs because half of what he receives in disability is spent immediately on the things he needs medically for his legs which are not covered by insurance. I like to pay back or pay it forward, so I figure that the assistance he does receive is given back to these food services. The couponing attached to great sales allows me to put $500 per month into the food pantry and $200. Into the soup kitchen each month all for an average of $120 per month. ( only $30 per week).

    When I see stories like the one TLC is portraying on screen it somewhat infuriates me. While on one hand I think 1100 boxes of cereal can be extreme, on the other hand when one goes to the local food pantry they typically receive 3 boxes. This serves 366.5 families in need for one week ( depending on size). So is it extreme. No not really. I still maintain 1 years worth in my stockpile, one never knows what lies ahead . If most of America did what we stock pilers do our food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens would not be in the dire need they are in. We could take care of our own instead of relying on a government to do it for us with our money. Just think what we could do with $1000 of what the government puts into a food bank.

  • stephanie

    I don’t think this is extreme. I think it’s smart planning ahead. What if we get into a huge war or something. However, I do not think they should let it run their lives. I will not cancel family plans to go couponing. There have been times where I have spent time planning a huge trip and have to miss out on it. Oh well, life goes on…trust me.

    Everyone thought I was exteme at couponing. I get 20 to 35 papers every Sunday. Now, I know that seems extreme, but I stockpile anything we use for a year…also do several donation places. I do not pay for the papers. I simply use my Up rewards. I make sure every week at Rite Aid I have enough left over for my papers and I use the coupons from the papers to create new ups for the next week and so on. I do buy a lot at once. Like 46 pks of huggies, 280 bags of cereal…but I keep what I need and give away the rest. I do not clear store shelves. I have my own little rules for that. Instead of clearing shelves, I go to each store and buy just a few. Ex: We have 5 Rite Aids. If I want 25 of something I will go buy 5 from each store. This way I get what I need and so do the other couponers. If I feel I could use more of an item, but want to leave others a chance I will wait til Saturday evening late before the store closes and then clear the shelf for my donations and what not. I have lots of family that is happy I can help. We have a very small income so I’m glad I can do this, and the shelters and schools I donate to are greatful. Thanks Cindy for all your help!

    • Ohanna

      Wow. These are some amazing comments. I was shocked to see a clip of the show with the toddler in the dumpster! Joanie had gloves on…but the boy did not!! I love coupons but that is just really turned me off!! I have only been couponing for a few weeks and I have quite a good stockpile of toiletries, but I still have quite a bit of food stocking to do. I have a family of 6 and they seem to go through the food so fast I can’t build it up!! But it’s nice not to have to lecture them that they are eating too much cereal. I don’t worry now because I get it so much cheaper! I get a real kick out of getting the free stuff and can’t wait for my first trip to the homeless shelter since I have so many bottles of Pantene and after this week we will have quite a bit of deodorant with the PG coupons and rite aid deals!! I did buy 20 bottles of salsa because it was only 50 cents! But my hubby loves salsa so it could be gone in a couple months or sooner! Depending on if I get a good coupon for tortilla chips!! : ) I love all the coupon blogs! And I was looking forward to the TLC show tomorrow, but after the previews I think they are trying to make couponers look like real crazy people! It really should be something to give hope to all the families like mine that are struggling on 1 income or no income so they can find a way to reasonably put food on the table!! It definitely takes some time to clip and organize and run to the stores, but I love the money I am saving my family and hope to stick with it!! I also wish cashiers would be a bit nicer! Some have such a horrible attitude toward coupons!! They make me feel like a theif some days…but the longer I am doing this…..the less intimidated I am by them.

  • Vero

    I´m just starting a stockpile, does anybody know a good app for the ipod touch that I can use to manage it?

  • Mel

    I really hope that this show doesn’t make people think we’re all nuts…

  • Anonymous

    hmmm Does this sound like hoarding to anyone else? I think when it crosses the line into complusive behavior it is too much.

    Personally, I try to keep a modest stockpile. I don’t buy more than what my family will use. I think it’s awesome people donate their surplus! What a great way to turn a hobby into a way to give back.

    But I also find it frustrating when the shelves are cleared out when I try to get my one or two deals for just my family.

    • Denise

      That’s exactly what I said…these people are hoarders. They revolve their lives around “couponing” and keep it all for themselves, not donating it or giving it away to family/friends.

  • Bree

    Cindy –

    I’m thinking maybe these people really are sick …. maybe it’s a form of hoarding? Or maybe they are addicted to the “coupon rush” – ya know, that giddy little feeling you get when you snagged an awesome deal? I really think it can become an addicition in a way; an addiction to free [or close to free stuff].

    I say as long as you play fair, which means using coupons for the right product and playing by store guidelines, you’re OK. But completely wiping shelves clean or sending your kids into a dumpster just isn’t OK. If you do feel the need for 100 boxes of mac & cheese; why not donate at least 60% of it to an elderly neighbor or the family accross the street with 5 children. That really is the only way I can see justifying “extreme couponing”, purely for the sake of donating your stockpile to those less fortunate.

    And like many of you already stated, extreme greed from couponers who are stockpiling crazy amounts purely for storing it (and not donating), makes us all look bad.

  • Dawn

    I hope they show different aspects of the couponers, such as donators, hoarders, etc.

    To each there own! After this weeks blizzard in NJ, I have been grateful that I had a great deal of healthy food in my house for my family.

  • Janet

    I wish that I had a family in my area that I could teach and help . My couponing skills could help someone tremendously! And yes it is a mild addiction but so is eating sweets and drinking coffee…

    • Jen

      You could go to a womans shelter and teach some families or at a local church, I have thought of doing the same especially families on a food stamps who cant make it a month on what they get from the state. If they just knew how to coupon they would have so much food. As to the hoarders, to each his own, I have a stockpile of 3-6 months on some things but I give to several friends all the time and help them out. I really dont know the situations of those on the show and therefore have no comment. I have always lived by the quote “Small minds talk about people, average minds talk about places, and superior minds talk about ideas.” Rather then say negative comments about people we dont know, lets come up with ideas how they can help others?

      • Bree

        GREAT idea Jen! You know, I might even consider doing that myself. It might even be good to educate those that run food pantries as well; many times they are given monetary donations and do the shopping themselves. It really would be fantastic to show them how to stretch those precious dollars.

    • Michelle

      I run a local charity called Dress for Success and I think this would be a great financial literacy topic for our women who are newly employed (PWG program). See if there is a chapter in your town and ask if they need speakers for any upcoming workshops this year. Not all chapters have PWG programs but another idea is to donate your unused diaper and formula coupons to them to share with their unemployed clients. Food stamps typically does not cover these items and they are very expensive. Good luck!

  • DeAnna Miller

    I don’t stockpile because I don’t see the value in it for me personally. I buy on an as needed basis UNLESS it’s an awesome deal such as Starbucks ground coffee – I will buy 3 on sale and won’t buy more until I run out. Or Cheez its – 2 $1.00 off coupons and a B1G1 (3 for $4.00). I also have 3 small children and visit 2 stores using about 20 coupons per week. I went from $230 weekly bill to $150 and that is great for me – $1200 saved annually so far. I hope to get better, but it is a time consuming hobby and I am still establishing new routines to make it a success.

    As far as going too far – I think any behavior which interferes with day to day life and prevents someone from being able to function normally is an issue. If people are choosing clipping coupons over celebrating their kids birthdays – that’s an issue!

    • Michelle

      I use coupons the same way you to. To reduce my bill by a $100 or so at a couple of stores. It is very time consuming and I do wish I were better. I always thought there was a limit to how many of the same coupons could be used at one store. I was amazed you could use 50 deoderant coupons at once! I was happy to get 3 items for our family of four.

      • Michelle,

        Did you buy 50 deoderants ?

  • Andi

    I have a great stockpile of body washes and facial cleansers since I go through them quickly. My husband thinks I am crazy but I have saved a lot of money by stocking up on those when they are on sale.

    I do have some canned goods stocked as well but mostly I only get enough for one or two months for my family of five. I don’t obsess about it. If I know I can get a good deal on something I won’t use but will be good for the food pantry I will pick that up and donate it. I plan on doing more of that in the new year to help out local families.

  • Marnie Harker

    I have family, neighbors and friends that give me coupons and then I share mine. (No dumpster diving) I also donate free items that I get. I have never bought tons of stuff at one time, except with the ziploc containers when they were on sale. I got them for my business. I hope the TV show doesn’t effect the coupon program. My family and I (and others in need) have benefited from it.

  • Patti M

    Isn’t there a show on A&E about this?…..Hoarders.

  • Julie

    I seen this on the news this morning and could not believe it. 1100 boxes of cereal? Did you see that the person had a trailer with all the food being pulled by his car? They did say they donate some to locate churches. But what can you possiblity do with 1100 boxes of cereal? Or any huge amount of food? They have expiration dates.

    I have been couponing for a few years and while I am pretty good at it I am not nearly as good as others. I definately have saved a ton of money over the years. My biggest problem it just takes me awhile to do my grocery organization. I have a hard time managing my time between working and my two kids so I often get interrupted and can’t just sit down and do it all at once. So it seems like I am taking a ton of time here and there to get coupons together. Now I am curious and will try to watch the time because the one lady on the show was spending like 70 hours a week. Huh? Really? That’s not me.

    I only stockpile what I think my family is going to use and often I under estimate still. If I buy a lot of items I do it to share with my church food pantry and even then it is not anywhere near 1100 boxes of cereal. Maybe like 10 boxes.

    This show will be interesting.

  • Julie

    Oh one more comment. Did you see the family that took out a and insurance policy on their $35,000 stockpile or the family that said there stockpile was worth $57,000. Just thought I would add that crazy tidbit.

  • Christine S.

    I think the difference between this show and a regular stockpile, which in my opinion should be around 6 months supply,. —this show is HOARDING, not stockpiling!

    The American TV population likes to see the extreme, and this is just a sensational way of showing the EXTREME of using coupons. These people have a problem and truthfully need help with their addiction. If a person has an addictive personality, they will become addicted to whatever, shopping, alcohol, in this case they’re saying using coupons.

    I don’t know if I will watch it because it’s sounds like the show Hoarders, and I don’t like that show. Maybe the end result is that they will donate their items, you’ll all have to let me know, because I’ll probably pass on this one.

  • Ann

    Regarding donations, I have a relative that works for a charity that provides housing, meals and food pantry services to the local community and he says that money is always more welcome than items. Why not donate some of your savings to charity? You never know what items, food or health/beauty related, people are going to need but they ALWAYS need money for necessities.

    • Cathie

      I have found personally speaking, that most of the money I’ve “saved” over the years has been money in theory only. For instance, if I had only $8 to spend for Tide, but it cost $9, and I had a coupon for $1, I would have “saved” a dollar that I didn’t have to begin with. I think in this economy, and in a lot of what I’m reading here, this is the case. It’s easier to buy $50 worth of items for $8 and donate them than it would be to donate $50.

  • Staci

    It does look like hoarding. A lot of those items will probably expire well before they would even eat them. This may be a stupid question, but my supermarkets limit the purchase of sale items to 4. How are they buying hundreds in one shopping trip?

    • Bridget

      my thoughts also, I cant imagine they run around to that many stores!!??

    • Laurie

      If you go to their various websites and blogs, you will see that they preordered most of the stuff with the help of the managers.

      From talking to/reading from some of participants online, TLC told them to be as “extreme” as possible, and to buy as much as they possibly could for the sake of the show. Hoarding, mental illness, and addiction are hot topics on reality tv right now, and it’s very clear from the trailers that TLC is trying to capitalize on that with this show. They also all said that they took almost everything they purchased and donated it to local charities and food banks. I wonder if that will be shown. I suspect that TLC is going to make them look as outrageous as possible, and that the people starring on the show are going to watch it and feel misrepresented, but hey. I guess that’s what you need to expect when you go on reality tv.

      I have a modest stockpile, nothing huge. 3-6 months worth of certain food items and 6-12 of most HBA is more than enough for our family’s needs right now. I have enough to feed my family, enough to last to the next sale, and enough to shove bags and boxes of razors, deodorant, cereal, pasta, mustard, dressings, etc, into the hands of anyone who comes over to my house.

      The biggest haul of cereal I ever got was a few months ago, during the GM catalina promotion at my local supermarket. I bought, among other things — a lot of other things — about 60 boxes of cereal. I donated half of them, along with most of the other stuff, to a domestic violence shelter, gave another ten boxes away to family, and kept the rest. Multigrain Cheerios are the only food my niece will reliably eat, so we go through a ton of them. I’m down to only six boxes of cereal now, so I think I underbought, especially on the MG Cheerios. My modest stockpile really works for me. I couldn’t possibly spend the amount of time shopping that some others do, or find a place to put that much stuff, but if they do, good for them. I’d love to be able to buy more, if it meant I could give more.

      • Staci

        Thank you for the explanation, Laurie!

  • Bridget

    WOW, I havent seen this show or even heard about it till now. I’ve been couponing for a bit less then 2 years now. The most stockpiling I’ve done was 4 bottles of dish soap lol, but Im reading, Im trying to learn! I do get amazing deals each week, and spend way less on my food bill then before. I guess Im gonna have to start buying more then 1 or 2 papers per week to get this stockpiling down.

  • Maria

    Why would anyone pay for an insurance policy on things that cost them nothing. Would it be that devastating? And doesn’t paying for insurance defeat the purpose of the stockpile in the first place? I watched the clips, and although I haven’t seen the whole show, these people seem to get more satisfaction out of looking at their stockpiles instead of actually using them. As others have mentioned, alot of this stuff will go bad before they have a chance to eat it. Even the frozen stuff gets gross and inedible after about a year. I agree that some of these people are a type of hoarder. The only difference is that what they are hoarding is actually useful stuff.

  • Jennifer C.

    I have been couponing and “stockpiling” for about 18 mos (thanks Cindy!) and have seriously slashed my grocery budget. It took me about 6-12 mos to get enough stockpile that I could really just buy perishables and really good deals most of the time. I shop almost exclusively at Shoprite, and have come to notice that sales run in cycles, so I stockpile how much I’ll use til the next sale. For example, when GM cereal is on sale, I try to estimate how much I’ll use til it goes on sale again and stockpile about that much. I refuse to run around to multiple grocery stores every week. I alternate drugstores, depending on deals, and try not to buy what I won’t use, unless it is a phenomenal deal.

    • Jenny

      I think you hit the nail on the head Jennifer. They do go on cycles and once you get enough on stock then you just buy pershables and things that are on sale. This is exactly what I do and works great without being obsessive.

    • Amazhon

      How many “like” coupons does shoprite accept at one trip?

    • Tammy

      I have been couponing for years . I only stockpile what i will need . I also share Free or cheap items with my family . I have only started shopping at ShopRite 6 months ago . I never use more than 4 like coupons at a time . Which is their policy. However I have been asked to never come back to ShopRite with my coupons because I am an Excessive couponer . I dont understand how people can even stock 30 of an items when your limited to a certain number of coupons per day. I shopped in Cardiff and Forest Hill and Bel Air ShopRites . Where is your shopRite located ????

  • CJ

    I think it varies according to your family size, storage area and financial situation. Every house should have a enough of a stockpile to last through 6 months in case of disasters or unemployment. As long as the stockpile and shopping doesnt impede or consume your daily life and isnt wasted, it’s okay. If you are able to get many things for free, you should be donating at least a portion of what you buy. I only buy for myself or for donating, so I dont need a large stockpile. Anything over 10 boxes of cereal or 5 multipacks of t.p. at a time would be excessive for me. I do admit I have way more dish soap and shampoo than I need, but it will get used eventually. My stockpile is confined to 4 boxes in my basement and a corner of my spare bedroom. I only buy 1-2 papers a week and print a handful of coupons that I think I might use. There’s nothing wrong with dumpster diving for coupons, I just wish there was a place in my area I could do it!

  • liz

    I think the show looks fascinating. These people aren’t just dealing with an addiction, it’s got OCD and a big dose of paranoia mixed in. They have to get the deals because if they don’t something terrible is going to happen. The expiration dates are pretty much irrelevant to them. It’s the having not the usability that’s important. You guys are trying to apply logic and rationality to a mental disorder. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a horrible way to live. Maybe some of those watching will see themselves heading that way and get help before it gets that bad.

    • Chris

      liz your absolutely right. Used to be a nurse in a psych. hospital and occasionally worked with OCD pts among others. Unfortunately most of the pts who were in the hospital for help didn’t think they had a problem, they were there because relatives forced them to go. I really feel for those who live with this or any other mental illness.

  • norma

    I am glad you addressed this Cindy. My thoughts are that these people also have some sort or illness/compulsion mixed in with couponing. I am a mother of 4 and on a 1 household income so couponing is vital in our home. I don’t have a large stockpile because our family uses alot of the products, and I help family members as much as I can as well. My stockpile has never ever looked close to that. I hope these people get help.

  • ikeware

    I saw the clip on TV last night and I was appalled at the thought of this show. Taking anything to this extreme is a mental health issue (I am in the field!). What really frustrated me was that as many have stated, this show does not represent the norm. The show makes fun of OCD behavior. Sad.

  • Emily

    No, that guy Nathan was represented badly in that clip. He is the maker of we use coupons, and he donated ALL of the cereal to charities. He has a stockpile at home that fills up his garage, yes, but that clip made the Couponers look bad. 🙁 the krazy coupon lady even said that they wouldn’t let her on to defend herself on GMA, when they were totally trashing her. These people may coupon a lot, but they donate pretty much ALL of the items they buy towards charity.

    • CJ

      I was glad to see that Nathan donated all that cereal and even paid $150 for it. I hope at least some of his 1000 bottles of body wash will go to charity too. I do wish the show would have focused more on the couponers donating.

  • mandee

    I say the lady with 3000 rolls of bathroom tissue needs help!!! If it gives her joy then giving it to families that are in need should give her even more joy. Yes I understand the high she gets when the total is $400 befor coupons then it goes down to $20 but over running the house with it is crazy! Don’t get me wrong I have a stockpile but when I got to 12 btls of dish soap I stopped buying. And I over buy when I go to the store but I give so much of it to my friends and family, and yes coupons are to me like crack is to a crack head but I went from spending $200-$400 a week at the food store to shopping one time a month and spending around $300-$400 a month(for 6 ppl). And I did 80% of my Christmas shopping with coupons but hey I did not feel like I wasted all my familes money this yr. And I did not over do it with gifts. now with saying that I have to go and see what coupons are going in the trash this weekend.

  • mandee

    On a side note I think that ppl on food stamps or goverment help(wic,ssi,&ssd) should be offered a class on couponing and saving money I think it would help!

    • mandee

      I’m NOT putting anyone down for being on these programs just think they should have help spreading there money to last the month.

      • Bree

        I think that would be a good idea; many people recieving government aid are required to take certain classes – whether it’s workforce development, “parenting skills”, etc. I think a class on couponing and sticking to a budget would be very beneficial. However, just like most things in life people have to put in some effort – coupons won’t just fall into laps and with the help of people like our Cindy they will have to work out deals.

        On another note, I only caught the last 7 minutes or so of Extreme Couponing. But did anyone else notice the guy at the end [the one who bought 1100 boxes of Total] used MANY of the same manu coupon at once? I don’t know of any store that allows that; usually the max is 4 like manu coupons. It just amazed me that he had stacks of the same coupon and got no gruff at all. I wish all my cashiers were that nice lol. Does anyone know of any store that lets you use that many like coupons without breaking up orders?

  • Megan

    I would just like to add that you can also donate coupons to most charitable organizations. They use them to fill their food banks and are tax exempt. I think the stores are definitely starting to work against us and will find a way to eventually limit us through our PricePlus card.

  • steph

    i honestly, don’t have the time to read all these responses…though they are intriguing….hopefully i will catch up later, but i did want to share something.
    i mentioned on another post last week that i had an extensive conversation w ith a manager at shoprite about coupons, their policy etc.

    i would like to say that based on my conversation with him, people who clear the shelves, and even people who buy 25 (he actually used that number) of one particular item…..are ruining it for the rest of us……..
    really, that is partly why stores keep getting harder and harder on couponers….and why stores are imposing limits of 4 like coupons. he told me himself.BECAUSE OF THE FEW who shop like he said.
    i am sorry, i know money is tight, believe me….i can barely pay my bills and i shudder to think of how i would feed my family if i had not found cindy’s site….
    but really, buying more than a dozen of an item at a grocery shopping trip, is really just hurting us all in the long run. the stores don’t like it. it is bad for their business. also, there are people who do that and then resell it in a store they own.
    that is not how coupons are to be used and i would think it illegal to resell it at a store.
    i don’t know. i am really having a hard time with some of the posts….
    i am all for couponing! and stockpiling! and donating! but i think it all needs to be within reason….and i pray people stop clearing the shelves and doing extreme couponing….because really stores are just going to crack down harder on us all. they will and they are …..

    anyway, what do i think is reasonable? well, my stockpile is for a few months. i wouldn’t scoff at a person who had a years worth saved. but any more than that, is practically hoarding….
    i knew a man who shopped and hoarded food, whenever we went over there, he would bring up soda or salad dressing or something from his basement and it was always expired…always. (i was best friends with his daughter growing up)
    anyway, i think you should give it away or leave some for the rest of us if you have a years worth of food stocked up…..

    anyway, i hope i didn’t offend anyone. i love this site and all that cindy does for us. and i love all the ways people post and help each other out….
    i just hope we can all help each other out, by using coupons in a smart way

  • Jen

    I watched part of the show tonight, I have to say its “reality TV” and although we have been led to believe these shows are true, they are not. They are fictional tv. I am a real estate appraiser and recently saw one of those flip my house shows on a Saturday afternoon that took place fairly close to my location. My mouth dropped at the statements they made and profit! I am an appraiser and could not believe that they made this much money! So I looked up the property and sale(or lack of sale I should say) The property in fact never was sold since they remodeled it, in fact it had been listed on MLS for over three years, expired, canceled relisted etc. So based on this reality tv show and proof its just tv for our entertainment we can assume this is for entertainment and not 100% true.

  • I watched the show and thought the couponing was very excessive. I was sad to see that only one person donated their groceries. Joyce was the only one that bought what she needed. She didn’t go crazy and buy a whole lot of items that she couldn’t use. And who knew you could special order cereal?? Or anything for that matter from the grocery store.

  • I watched TLC’s program this evening and was shocked at what I saw and heard but, I did enjoy it nonetheless. I would never consider buying coupons or even purchasing several newspapers just to get extras. I like using the internet to find free coupons along with the Sunday inserts and waiting for the sales to hit. It does help to read about what others find which gets my juices going. While watching tonight’s Extreme Couponing program, I commented to my husband that what I did earlier today gave me such a rush and it was nothing in comparison to the four people featured on the show. I went to Rite Aid this morning, purchased two 15 count packages of Bounty paper towels, used $19 in coupons and paid $7.26 oop and received a $5 up reward. I thought that was awesome. So, I guess it’s a personal thing. Maybe after I coupon for years, I’ll get a little crazier. But, for now, I’m pleased as punch to save a lot of money for products my family will use during our lifetime.

    • Cathie

      Exactly, Bernadette. I couldn’t have said this better myself. And I didn’t hear them add back the price of the coupons when the one woman with all the toilet paper brought her $1100. order down. And what a bunch of worthless crap they bought. 100 candy bars? Just because they were free? Give me a break. I feel guilty “buying” two free candy bars. The woman from Philly was funny, and way more reasonable than the others, IMO.

      • I agree with you, Cathie. The woman from Philly was funny and very reasonable with her shopping order. It’s nice that her neighbors save their coupon inserts for her. I also enjoyed watching her interact with other shoppers in the store. I couldn’t imagine working at a computer from the time I get up in the morning until I’m ready to go to bed at night, as the first woman featured did.

    • Bernaette, Did you use $19 of the same coupons or all different ones for the Bounty?

  • Sheena

    Watching this show makes me so happy my stores limits how much you can buy; it prevents clearing of the shelves; especially if its not needed.

  • Irene D.

    I do think these people have gone too far. The first woman shown almost had a nervous breakdown when the register froze when she was checking out. I also agree with the comment about taking a toddler dumpster diving. I didn’t hear how much they have to pay for the clipping services they use. That amout should have been factored in to their bottom line. I watched the show, because I do use coupons and try to match them up with sales. These people have gone over the edge.

  • Stacey

    Let the reality tv show nonsense begin! When does this come on? Me and my cat have our free snacks ready!

  • bliss

    I love couponing, I just started recently but I’m not as experienced as most of you. I started to help strengthen my limited amount of food money I have left from my pay check after paying my bills. I am divorced and have four children I am raising. I spend about 250.00 on groceries every two weeks. I watched the show and was amazed how they were able to purchase all those items at one time for so little. First I don’t have the money to begin with. I make about 15,000.00 an year so I’m considered below the poverty line but couponing has helped alot on some weeks when I don’t even have enough money to put food on the table. I think after watching the show, you first have to have money to start with, to be able to purchase the coupons. gas to go the stores at a moments notice( I don’t even own an car), and a better income then mind to get all this done. Some of the people on the show I would consider extreme. Only the one lady from Philly seem to be more like me and she also wanted to educate her neighbors about saving money. I wish I could be able to have any sort of a stockpile but every time I get a small one going I have to use on the months when things get tight. I don’t think stockpiling to that extreme is normal when there are so many people not being able to feed their families. If they donate alot of the excess they have (as I would) then its okay. The show is just another reality base show. Couponing is meant to help people save on food, products we all need to live.

  • connie

    I have a good stockpile but i shop for 4 houses-mom a shutin-sister cerebal palsy and mentally challenged- kids who cant find time to coupon shop or dont understand useing coupons to the best advantage.
    and many other families this year that just need a helping hand.
    1- family father died at 32 leaveing 4 children age 3-16.
    2-a family the father was hit by a truck changeing a tire he wont be working again for at least a year 4 children.
    3- a nephew with a 12 year old. independant trucker works local for a gas drilling company after thier divorce he needs to be home with his child work is sporatic in this weather and with holidays.
    4- a set of grandparents who had to take in children after thier parents death
    retired low income.
    couponing to the max keeps these people going. I spend 30 or more hours a week collecting coupons planning my shopping ect. I turnned a spare room into a large pantry with shelves and cupboards and get all i can free these people need it.
    last week a young girl 19 working 3 partime jobs and liveing on dollar store bread and ramon noodles. i turned her loose in my pantry room.
    she said it was the best of all her xmas gifts.
    couponing is worth the extremes.

    • bliss

      GOD bless you!

  • Melinda Kathriner

    There is difinitely such thing as Coupon Ettiquette!! Not greedily hoarding things you don’t need, but other shoppers might. Not wiping out shelves. Not using a particular coupon in a way that the manufacturer didn’t intend, ETC ETC. As far as the year storage–I’m a Mormon, and we’re encouraged to have a year storage in the even of loss of job, a catastrophe, etc. BUT that storage (or stockpile as you call it) should be stuff you USE. I personally think God wants us to use our pennies the best we can, and I appreciate the couponing skills I’ve acquired!! BUT I don’t think God wants us going so far as to put our kiddos in dumpsters, be greedy, cheat, become obsessed, and neglect our family just to catch EVERY good deal that comes our way….LASTLY, it is possible to go broke going to the store every day to catch a good deal! There, now I’ll step down on my pulpit. 🙂

  • Dawn

    My thought is I have always stock pied on extremly good sales , but perisable items i am reasonable. I don’t go to these extreme measures. If i see a good sale i do stock I have a few months of most regular used items , ie: paper goods heath and beauty canned items and Such things we go through quickly.

    I as a child came from a single parent with times tough we never had much food this is my fear. I will never allow my famliy to go hungry

  • It’s me again… Unfortunately, I didn’t see this message you had posted as to your savings, stockpile, etc., before I posted questions asking how some end up with shopping carts full, only to pay like $5.00.

    After reading how much you save and still have a stockpile, I am complete satisfied with the way you extreme coupon.

    I’m going to keep reviewing your site until I get the hang of extreme couponing, your way… p.s. can you direct me to the page, if you have listed, how you organize you coupons as to the expiration and/ or per catagory??? Please advise. Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Youre therefore great ! We won’t envision We’ve study anything this way before. email