My husband and I happened upon the show, Extreme Couponing, this past week. It must have been a marathon, as one one show followed another, then another. It was an instant addiction! I could not stop watching; I was mesmerized by the insanity.
The first segment shows a woman with her ex-husband (I understand “ex” but what the hell was he doing in the grocery story with her?) and their small child, pushing a cart each. The plan was to run through 3 different orders for maximum savings, using their coupons. She comes up to the cash register with her first order; the cashier rings up her total and she acquires 93 bags of croutons for free! What in the world does one do with 93 bags of croutons! She continues with her next 2 orders equivalent to over $250 and pays $2 and some change, total.
Another segment which stands out are twins—27 yr. old women. They bought 49 bottles of antacid, and with their coupons, received it for free. Their response, "Why not, can't pass that up." I continued to watch as several people received up to $500 of their weeks groceries for free and one had a store credit. One suburban mom spent 20 plus hours per week clipping coupons. One family had 3 laptops running at all times, searching various sites for coupons. Another, had two large zip up totes, with individual pockets to store coupons. Each week was carefully planned out, carefully calculated and most knew, down to the penny, what would come out of pocket.
Watching each one of these individuals go through the process was like watching a junkie get a fix. Many stood at the register, literally hands shaking, staring at the totals then the deductions with each coupon, anticipating their next high. One couple had a strategy going until a store associate burst their balloon. The store's double coupons were applicable one per household, not one per order. The woman nearly panicked, even verbalizing how anxious she was about the situation. She quickly pulls out her coupon books, shuffles coupons about, scratching items from her list and pulls her calculator out to make sure she will not be paying for anything.
The total would come up, the reward card was scanned, the many coupons...beep...beep...beep...beep...wait for it....wait for it...$0.00! Pure ecstasy! The crowd around them claps, the cashier slightly annoyed but smiling and the family strolls out of the store on a cloud.
Watching them unload their treasures in a living space already stockpiled with more products than they will ever use in their lifetime, had my jaw dropped to the floor. One basement looked like a grocery store, with metal shelves, lined with everything from deodorant to canned beans. Another had diapers stacked from the floor to the ceiling-- no baby, not married and no plans for a baby in the near future. Another had items stacked on a dining room table, unsure of where the days' findings were going to go.
It was impressive to see how creative people can be with their money. One family boasted about being debt free, using money they would have spent on groceries, to paying off their mortgage. What mortified me is what these people were eating on a daily basis. Everything purchased was in a box or can; no fresh produce or fresh meats. Their children were drinking soda and boxed juices, eating processed meatballs and canned ravioli. Where they really gaining anything by getting “food” for free?Were they setting themselves up for more medical bills in the future eating processed foods full of corn, soybeans, high fructose corn syrup and a list of chemicals, most people cannot pronounce?
Lastly, I had to wonder why people go through go much effort to buy “junk” for free? Is it fear? Is it a control issue? A compulsion? I have to conclude it is “all of the above”. It appears to be "upscale hoarding". The show will continue to go on and many will continue to watch, myself included. Although, most of the food purchases were not anything I would, personally, eat; I have to wonder why they cannot donate some of their “stockpiles” to local pantries or soup kitchens. It almost appears there may be a certain amount of greed pulsing through the veins of extreme couponers.
Honestly, what DO YOU DO with 93 bags of croutons?