Sometimes, I use coupons. But I, generally, only use them to buy things that I would buy anyway. I’ll often wait until something goes on sale and then stock up. A recent episode of one of my favorite television shows, FOX’s Bones (are you with me, Tivo Mom?), focused on the world of “extreme couponing” and illustrated that those involved can get very competitive and very aggressive. Apparently, there are instances where one must have the right quantity of the proper coupon in order to make their overall shopping plan successful.
I think I might like to try this. Not because I can’t afford food or I want to stockpile for an emergency but because I’d like to know what it feels like to leave the supermarket with a truckload of stuff and get paid to do it. I think the people who do this, primarily women, must be geniuses. They’re not just thrifty, they’re obsessive shopping warriors.
The concept of extreme couponing was first mentioned in the Wall Street Journal in March of 2010 and was quickly followed by the premier of the popular TLC program Extreme Couponing, a show about shoppers who make extensive and focused use of coupons to save money while accumulating large quantities of goods. Extreme couponers must have a plan and stick to it. In order to make their schemes profitable, they have to shop in supermarkets that stock enough quantities of the various items required to get the largest returns on the value of the coupons. They take advantage of in-store specials, Double Coupon Days and any other discounts that they can discover. When all the pieces of the puzzle fit together correctly, these shoppers have been known to acquire stockpiles of groceries and actually put cash in their wallet. Examples include a frugal Missouri woman who spent less than $10 on $400 worth of groceries and an Arizona woman who feeds her family of six for just $50 a week.
But are these people brilliant or insane? Some become so obsessed with finding a bargain that they have been banned from stores and others have been arrested for stealing newspapers in order to snatch up as many coupon inserts as possible. Many believe that extreme couponers may eventually become hoarders because of the huge quantities of items required to make their couponing plans successful. Of course, extreme couponers are also known to donate excess items to charities and local food pantries. Still others set up extensive shelving areas in their homes and stockpile groceries that they hope will be used before they expire.
Maybe before I dive in on my own I should plan a field trip of sorts with a mentor. Or, perhaps, a body guard so as to avoid an untimely death like the "vic" on Bones. I get excited when I simply remember to bring a coupon with me to the store and save a few cents … I can’t imagine what it must feel like to get a truckload of stuff for free!
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