Tonight is the initial airing of the brand new TLC series Extreme Couponing.
A few months ago, they aired an hour long special of the same name that earned rave? reviews. Okay, maybe not all the reviews raved. In fact, many of the reviews were quite negative and accusatory! I interviewed Nathan Engels of We Use Coupons fame about his appearance on the show, and although he expressed a bit of remorse over some of the footage that obviously fell onto the editing room floor, he was overall very pleased with the outcome. (Curious about who will be on the show tonight? Check out We Use Coupons for the full list of tonight’s participants!)
To be honest, I can’t say I was that thrilled with the show myself.
I consider myself a strategic shopper. I have an article going up on Momtastic tomorrow explaining a bit about what I think the differences between strategic shopping and extreme couponing. Honestly, I think most behaviors that are labeled as extreme are outside my comfort zone. I’m just not an extreme person.
However, I certainly wouldn’t describe Extreme Couponers as “piggies” as the author claims in this incredibly unfair Washington Post article. Do I think some of them share behaviors and similarities with the participants on the show Hoarders? Yes, absolutely. Do all Extreme Couponers belong on Hoarders? Absolutely not.
I Truly Believe in Good Intentions
I think there are a pile of good deeds and intentions laying on the editing floor somewhere, and I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that a show titled “Extreme” ANYTHING has not been molded purposefully into something designed to shock, appall and enthrall us.
Several of the participants on these shows are my fellow bloggers. In fact many bloggers I know were invited to be on the show, but declined because it’s pretty clear what the media thinks of us couponers (here, here and of course here).
Who wants to put their integrity and good name on the line AND at the mercy and skewed discretion of money hungry TLC producers? Those who have stuck their neck out are to be commended for at least attempting to show the thrill and genuine good that can come from couponing. While I am sure there are some publicity seekers, I truly believe that people like Nathan and Joanie went on the show because they want the world to know there is another way to live and to shop. That you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck or worry about the next meal on the table.
That said, is extreme couponing really necessary? I’m going to go against the grain here and say NO. Absolutely not. You can strategically shop without holding up checkout lines for hours on end. You can save big money just by buying 3 newspapers a week and only buying what you need to get you through to the next sales cycle (for most things, this is around 6-8 weeks). I am not a huge fan of extreme couponing and think that it is overly excessive (hence the word “extreme”). I’m not going to trash extreme couponers though. Many of my readers consider themselves extreme, it’s just not me.
Use Coupons for Good, Not Evil
My main concern is that these extreme behaviors and negative reviews will turn off people who desperately need to learn to coupon. People who are struggling and barely making it from paycheck to paycheck.
The truth is, lives have been changed by couponing.
I’ve heard of people learning to coupon and saving their marriage.
I’ve heard of people learning to coupon and finding their way out of a mountain of debt.
I’ve heard of people learning to coupon and fully funding vacations, educations and buying homes and cars with cold hard cash.
I even know someone who learned to coupon and became so passionate about her newfound knowledge that she felt compelled to start a blog sharing her knowledge with whoever would listen! (Yes, that’s ME!)
Some of the stories that have been emailed to me by readers have truly brought me to tears. I’m choking up even writing this right now, just thinking of how lives have been changed by someone learning to make the most of their money. Whether they learned it from me or not, it’s such a beautiful thing.
Learn How to Shop Strategically
Tomorrow I am going to be starting a series on Strategic Shopping. I won’t teach you to extreme coupon, it’s just not something I fully feel prepared to endorse (although the basic concepts are exactly the same). I will teach you to shop strategically though. You can also learn all you ever wanted to know in my free E-Book, “Save Money in 7 Days“.
I am going to leave you with this quote from my interview with Nathan Engel, AKA Mr Coupon. If you are wondering what would make someone agree to appear on a show edited to make them appear as a “piggie”, his response sums it all up pretty clearly:
Heather: What do you want people to take away from the program? What is the message you want the world to hear?
Mr Coupon: Well I KNOW what thousands of people heard loud and clear: coupons really work. Our site nearly crashed, we were trending 6th worldwide on twitter and I got real phone calls from people desperate to learn how to coupon. This show is great because it inspires people to save money. No one would ever watch 4 grandma’s clipping one coupon and going to the store, but they would watch people buying thousands of products for nothing. The show brings coupons primetime in a way nothing ever has before and for that I am grateful because THOUSANDS of people in our country our hurting. If even one starts couponing because they watched the show, then in my book it was worth it!
What are your thoughts? Will you watch the show?
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