Are you wondering where all the deals are lately? Wondering why in the world stores are cracking down and changing their coupon policies?
Could it really ALL be because of TLC’s Extreme Couponing?
The truth is, I’m not sure…
If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said a show on TLC wouldn’t have that much power. Now though, I’m not sure I can call it all a big coincidence.
Us couponers have always kind of been in an underground culture of our own. Oh, the cashiers at Walgreens and CVS might have known us by name, but the general public knew very little about our coupon binders and coupon clipping services.
Now though, couponing has gone mainstream by going primetime. The show (which originally was titled “American Coupon Masters”, and the original participants had no idea they were signing up for a show titled “Extreme” anything) follows coupon experts on their shopping trips where they purchase thousands of dollars in groceries for the amount of a Starbucks latte.
While many ridicule and accuse the participants of hoarding and of fraud, many others admit that they want to learn the tricks of the trade.
The problem is, this show starts new couponers on a very unrealistic path. The examples given in the show are extreme for a reason. Many of the participants even admit that their normal coupon trip hauls are never as extreme as what is depicted on the show. We already know that in at least one episode, coupon fraud was committed. In other cases, it seems that at the very least, store policies were relaxed for the filming.
Several bloggers and site owners that I personally know and respect have been on the show. Which is why I’m a bit hesitant to throw all the blame on the participants. If anything, TLC’s desire for a hit show has resulted in some creative editing, and perhaps missed the point that the couponers had hoped to make by agreeing to take part in the series.
Regardless, there are a lot of new deal seekers out there nowadays. Many whom are trying to get something for nothing, without really knowing how. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of new couponers who understand that they need to build up to that kind of savings (and it’s arguable if consistently saving that much without compromising your families health and integrity is even possible anymore), and who come to my site and other sites like mine looking to learn and grow into the coupon lifestyle.
There are also those, that although hopefully well intentioned, are jumping into this head first and asking questions later. These people are clearing shelves and using coupons not as intended and copying printable coupons and pretty much just pushing limits wherever they go.
Us couponers have always had a kind of unspoken promise to tread lightly and even though we knew we weren’t doing anything wrong, we also didn’t really want to rock the boat of the powers that be. So we ranted on our forums about uneducated cashiers rather then losing our cool in the middle of stores. We ran scenarios past each other to make sure we didn’t make mistakes that could hold up checkout lines. We passed on our knowledge willingly to those who desired to learn.
In short, we became a community that stood together and even though policies are changing and things are getting more difficult, I have faith this community will pull through just fine.
Meanwhile, all we can do is strive to educate and promote ethical couponing whenever and wherever we can.
Especially for those who don’t coupon by choice or for the thrill of it; to see some make things more difficult for all is incredibly irritating.
However, it’s what’s happening. We will adapt and we will find other ways to ethically save money.
I am committed to helping my readers through these changes. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. We might have to work harder to get the good deals, but they’ll still be there. I promise to help you find them.
Are you a new couponer? Be sure to check out my ongoing series, Strategic Shopping! Or just cut right to the chase and download my free ebook, Save Money in 7 Days!
What are your thoughts on the recent store policy changes? Has your budget suffered? What can I do to help?