Curse You TLC’s Extreme Couponing

curse you TLC2

I have always been a coupon clipper. I received my Sunday newspaper every week and spent about fifteen minutes clipping my coupons and then browsing the sales paper before dashing out to the market. I usually saved about $20 a week once I combined sales and coupons.

Then, in 2010, like the rest of the nation, my family saw pay freezes and the following year actual pay cuts as both mine and my hubby’s employers struggled to survive. New choices had to be made. Data packages on our cell phones were removed saving us $50 a month. Phone calls were placed to the cable and internet companies and new packages and rates were negotiated saving us about $35 a month. The thermostat was raised from 72 degrees on the central air to 76 degrees saving us about $40 during summer months.

Then I saw an episode of Extreme Couponing. It was a light bulb moment. I mean, I already clipped coupons, this was just taking it to the next level. Now on Sundays a trip was made to the dollar store and 3 additional newspapers were purchased giving me four total. I clipped and organized and even purchased a binder. I joined a couple of coupon websites for added help and I was good to go. I am proud to say I never broke the rules. I bought the products the coupons listed in the sizes the coupons required, took advantage of combining sales and coupons and double coupons, and did a decent job at it.

I found that I still spent pretty much the same amount of money each week that I always spent, but I was coming home with double the quantity for the first couple of months. A nice little stockpile built up in my basement. I would say I was averaging about 35-40% in savings and it really helped out.

I know a lot of people make fun of the “stockpiles” but when I ended up in a wheel chair for four months because of multiple surgeries it was my stockpile that helped my husband cope with the added workload. All he had to do was run out for fresh meat, produce, and dairy. The rest was safely tucked away in the basement.

Flash forward two years later and I am now ready to chuck in the couponing towel. Thanks to all the coupon cheaters, fake coupons, and TLC actually showing its shoppers committing coupon fraud the ability for average coupon users to save a buck is pretty much gone.

(Follow these links for more info)

First came the rule-only 4 like coupons per transaction. Since I only ever bought four papers that was fine by me. But extreme couponers just made multiple transactions and continued to clear shelves and abuse the system anyway.

Then the value of the coupons began to change. Gone were the save a $1 on one item coupons. Suddenly you needed to buy 2 or 3 to be able to redeem your coupon. Next, the expiration dates got shorter and shorter, making it harder and harder to save your coupons and use them only when the items were on sale. I noticed more and more that the day after the coupon expired it would be scheduled to go on sale finally.

Furthermore, food coupons dried up. If you needed shampoo, lipstick, air freshener, or laundry products there were plenty of coupons for that. But if you actually wanted to buy a bag of frozen potatoes or cans of diced tomatoes then you were out of luck. I like shampoo and lipstick as much as the next girl, but I have a family of four that needs healthy food just as much as shiny hair.

And now, the biggest blow of all, just about all stores have stopped doubling coupons. It is just sad. I never buy multiple papers anymore. There is no point. Now I’ll look through three packs of weekly coupon inserts and end up clipping two or three coupons at the most, and even those aren’t that great.

I now do the bulk of our shopping at Costco using the high value coupons Costco mails to our door every month and since quantities are large my stockpile built up just as quickly.

Am I the only one having this problem with coupons? What strategies are you doing to save some money?


  1. craftylulu says:

    I don’t have kids but my husband and I are living on just my income as a nurse while we build a carpet cleaning business. I was raised to be a bargain hunter and couponer by my mom who stockpiled before it was cool. I was really inspired by the Extreme Couponing shows but have encountered a lot of the same issues you have. Some things we do to save money is shop at Sam’s Club, splitting stuff with my parents from time to time, growing some of our own produce, and really trying to use what we already have in the house (food and otherwise).

    • It is frustrating at times. For now I am taking advantage of the online coupons and printing them myself. I have gotten lucky getting high value coupons from Facebook and a few other sites. However, one store I shop just started refusing print out coupons! They were losing too much money from people printing multiple copies of the coupons and not getting reimbursed for them. When people abuse the system we ALL lose.

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