Extreme Couponing on TLC is an extremely entertaining show, but paints an unrealistic picture of couponing for the average person. There I said it. I must admit that when the show first started, I loved watching the numbers on the cash register go from thousands to pennies. It really is great entertainment. But that’s all it is. Entertainment. Because then I started paying attention to what these people were actually buying. Okay. We have 100 bottles of Propel. Yes, I got those free that week too. I just didn’t order 100 coupons. We have a family that consists of 2 1/2 people. We don’t need 100 bottles of propel. Okay, then they got razors. Yep, those are FREE at Walmart all the time. I have a nice pile of them myself and have given away a ton as well. What’s next? Oh, the lovely Chinese Noodle Dinner – those are terribly unhealthy, not too mention not that great tasting. I used the coupons from my 4-5 newspapers I get weekly to buy my fair share and gave them to my brother in law. Are you getting my point here? We all can Extreme Coupon the way they do on the show, but why would you want to? Seriously, if a camera crew followed me around at the grocery store, nobody would watch. It’s quite boring. Sure, I’ve gone to the store and saved 70% off my bill with my coupons. Did I buy anything I needed to feed my family for the week? No. A typical grocery store trip consists of me saving around 30%. We buy organic milk (not cheap!), fresh produce, meat and other items that I just don’t always have a coupon for (ahem, that bottle of wine in my cart). With that being said, I save a ton of money on items like deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, floss, razors, etc. that I can afford to splurge on these other items at the grocery store. Not too exciting for a TV show, but it’s what works for my small family.

Here is a picture of my realistic “stockpile”…if you can even call it that. I have a nice stock of pads, liner, body wash, shampoo/conditioner, razors and floss up the wazoo, and a few other random items that we use. My food stockpile consists of whatever I can fit in the pantry in my kitchen. My cleaning supplies are disbursed throughout my laundry room, kitchen and 2 bathrooms. And that’s about it. VERY Un-Extreme! Do I save a ton of money with coupons? Of course! Don’t get me wrong…coupons are AWESOME and your key to managing a successful budget.  You just can’t expect to get everything in your cart for free and expect to live on that.

Ways to Coupon the Un-Extreme way:

1.) Buy 4 newspapers each week. That way if something a great price or FREE with your coupon, you get 4 of them for free as opposed to just one. If it’s a product that you typically buy like diapers or cat food, for example…then consider ordering extra coupons that week. This is not extreme if it’s truly going to impact your weekly budget.

2.) Use your coupons ethically and legally. Is getting something free because you used an expired coupon or purchased a product clearly not permitted worth your integrity?

3.) Don’t expect to get an entire cart full of groceries for a dollar. It’s not realistic and will only make you feel like a failure when you cannot achieve this.

4.) Don’t clear the shelves. This is the perfect time to remember the golden rule. Take your share and no more. It’s common courtesy.

5.) Do start off small and stay small to avoid burn out. We’ve all done it. Bought 10 newspapers, clipped every coupon, organized, prepared, got a bunch of great deals…then “BURN OUT”. Just purchase what you need for your family or what you want to donate. Nobody needs a mini mart in their garage and you certainly don’t want to be featured on the next episode of Hoarders. 😉

Again, coupons are awesome and I think everyone should use them! What I wish is for everyone to coupon in an un-extreme way that saves you money without taking over your life.


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September 29, 201111:28 am

I love your post. I started couponing to help get stuff ready for my daughter to go to college. My husband and I seen how much we saved by reading your e-mails and looking at your web-site. Thanks to you for sharing with us. Reading about normal ways to shop is encouraging! Thank Katrina and others for helping my family save money.


September 29, 201110:48 am

Thanks Beth :)

Amy W

September 29, 201110:24 am

I just watched that show last night for the first time, and I could not agree with you more! :)


September 29, 201109:31 am

One of the biggest things I love about couponing is that I can have "little luxuries" like super awesome razors, expensive shampoo, semi-expensive cosmetics, gobs of free nail polish, good hair/body products for my hubby, unlimited amounts of Johnson's bubble bath, etc. Things that I would skimp on otherwise, but we now get for free or close to it. I wish I had space in my house for a neatly organized stockpile like yours! The garage shelving is only big enough for food. All our stockpiled HBA stuff (aside from TP and paper towels) are in big totes that slide under our bed. It's neatly organized, but I wish I had shelf space to make it all nice and pretty!


September 29, 201108:18 am

I have the same size stockpile and your post is exactly how I feel.....I knew I followed your blog for a reason !! I am a PROUD un-extreme couponer !!!!

Amy O.

September 28, 201110:23 pm

Thank you for the great post! It is so easy to feel defeated when you see those tiny register totals. I have finally accepted that doing my best for my family and their personal needs is what is important.


September 28, 201108:20 pm

Love it! I too buy organic milk. Too bad that can't be free! @ Sarah This is the only Zulily coupon code I found $5 off orders of 50+ with coupon code GA1745


September 28, 201107:43 pm

PREACH my sista!! i thought i was the only one cringing at those sodium-laden "bargains" they were piling in their carts. i love your your practical, thoughtful comments, as well as your proud show-and-tell display. my family is tinier than yours--as my sister-in-law says, "when you eat, your whole family eats!"--but i still shop like a ferocious warrior lioness bargain-finding expert! and you are in large part responsible for this. i will never stop thanking you for your hard work and solid advice. love you!!


September 28, 201107:39 pm

AGREE, AGREE AGREE!!! Clearing shelves JUST to get a deal, is the wrong way to do it. In total, I "collect" things that are generally the highest priced items - laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap, body wash, shampoo, diapers, razors (love the FREE!) and anything else that costs more money! Having a 3 car garage that looks like 7-Eleven is ridiculous! 'Hoaders' is right!! Well posted and I will share this with my coupon friends!


September 28, 201107:32 pm

When I first started watching the show, I was hardly couponing, the past month or so I've been really buckeling down and catching a lot of amazing deals, thanks in part a lot to you! However, now that I am couponing more, I look at the stuff they are buying and think the EXACT same thing you do! It's the same stuff in insane amounts, most of which they had to use a clipping service so it's not entirely free to begin with to get. Totally agree with everything you've said!

Heather C.

September 28, 201107:08 pm

I totally agree with you. Its mindless Entertainment! I just watched the preview online and I believe she said (40) of one item?? WHAT! thats Extreme! I love to save money but I'm not gonna clear a shelf doing so. How else are others going to be able to take advantage of the sales too?


September 28, 201106:53 pm

Well said! I teach a couponing class and tell people the same thing you said above. Thanks for sharing.


September 28, 201106:52 pm

Well said! :) Hey.....I was just shopping on zuilly and wondered if there are any coupon codes you know of. It is my 1st time actually finding something to buy on their site. THANKS!


September 28, 201106:46 pm

I totally agree!! My stockpile pales in comparison to the ones on Extreme Couponing, but I am so proud of it. My kids know where to come for toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, dish soap, paper products, plus lots of salad dressing, candy (all free). I just like the hunt for a bargain.


September 28, 201106:46 pm

Your points here were so true! I hate that show especially the woman from the last episode who bought 100 bottles of mustard. Too extreme and crazy!