Super-Couponing: Reality Vs. The Reality Show

Super-Couponing: Reality Vs. The Reality Show

Ever notice how some so-called reality shows aren't very, well, real? The concept might be there, but something about lights and cameras gives a lot of the shows out there a very scripted or staged feel. The couponing world's version of a reality show, TLC's "Extreme Couponing," is one such show that touts reality but depicts a generally amped-up version of true couponers. So here is my take on every day, real-life couponing as compared to the drama-filled reality show version.

  • TV-land: To engage in super-couponing means three hours of shopping followed by a grueling checkout of at least one hour.
  • Reality: While I certainly can't speak for all couponers out there, I can say that my shopping trips are usually at right around an hour from start to finish. Including checkout. Including coupons. Granted, I'm not usually using eighty coupons (I think my maximum has been somewhere in the twenty range) and I'm not buying fifty bottles of mustard, but I think the majority of couponers out there do not make a marathon out of a grocery run. Which brings us to . . .

  • TV-land: As an extreme couponer, you must fill at least three carts full of stuff before proceeding to checkout.
  • Reality: Naw, you really don't. The show depicts couponers as having six cars brimming with noodles and cat treats in the "largest haul ever!" In real life, a good haul might be a few bottles of detergent at a good price plus a couple more items that are dirt cheap or free in addition to the usual staples. One stack of coupons and one cart are more the norm, in my opinion.

  • TV-land: To be a true extreme couponer, you have to be a nail-biting, nervous wreck at the checkout.
  • Reality: If there's one part of the show that annoys me the most, it's this. The show's participants are always watching the total of their purchase mount into the hundreds while nervously telling the camera "I sure hope this works; I don't have five hundred dollars with me today!" If you've done your homework before going to the store (which most couponers – even those on the show – do), then you probably have a good estimate of what your out of pocket expense will be. There's simply no need and no real cause to send your blood pressure soaring.

  • TV-land: It doesn't matter how many similar coupons you use in one transaction.
  • Reality: Not all episodes feature couponers in this situation, but many of the shows have a shopper buying twenty, thirty or more of one item and using twenty, thirty or more of the same coupon to obtain said item at a great price. The reality of today's couponers is that most stores have some kind of limit in place regarding using like coupons. My local store will let you use four of the same coupon in one transaction and will double four of the same coupon in one transaction; if one wanted to buy more than four, a separate transaction would have to be sought. My thoughts? I believe some of the stores are bending their policies a bit for the show. It's nice for ratings, but doesn't really capture the true reality of shopping with coupons.

To be a true super-couponer, you don't have to follow the example of those who are highlighted on TLC's show. You can save money on your grocery and household expenses without clearing shelves or working yourself into a frenzy by keeping in mind that reality isn't always how it's presented on a reality show.

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Melissa's picture

Melissa wrote:

Thu, 09/08/2011 - 12:00 Comment #: 1

"I sure hope this works; I don't have five hundred dollars with me today!"

Ha! This is the part that annoys me the most, too! First, because of what you said, that they meticulously did the math before, so they should know. But then also, because cash registers have this handy thing called a VOID button, and could easily just take items off a transaction if you decide you don't want them. It's not like they'll be held at gunpoint and forced to pay full retail!

Weekling Reading Links 9.11.11's picture

Weekling Reading Links 9.11.11 wrote:

Sun, 09/11/2011 - 13:41 Comment #: 2

[...] Super Couponing – Reality vs. Reality TV @ MomVesting [...]

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Thu, 09/15/2011 - 00:19 Comment #: 3

@Melissa - that part is soooo unnecessarily drama-filled! Ugh! Funny how the show never mentions the void button . . .

Shey's picture

Shey wrote:

Fri, 09/30/2011 - 04:36 Comment #: 4

@Melissa, what are you doing here, pulling us out of the LALA land into the real reality?

Think about it, even with a family of ten, hauling three carts each week would require much more than a spare bedroom for extra storage, quickly.

On the positive note though, checking out the show has taught me that HEALTHY couponing is possible, as an antithese to the greedy, shelf-clearing type.

Healthy Couponing 101

Jeniffer's picture

Jeniffer wrote:

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 19:54 Comment #: 5

I was just browsing through the internet looking for some information about couponing and came across your blog.
You made some good points, I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

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