South Park Magazine

June 8, 2011

Thoughts on Extreme Couponing

What can a frugal-but-eco-minded consumer take away from the TLC phenomenon?

I was watching an episode last week and S.O.meone, after catching about 30 seconds of it, said “Oh no, you’re not going to start doing that, right?“

Right.

But I’m still kind of riveted.

On one hand, these people are buying piles and piles of total shit. Soda, pseudo-sports drinks, etc. And a lot of the rest seems to be stuff I wouldn’t buy — brands that have excessive plastic packaging or are full of chemicals; I’m not a perfect-all-the-time green consumer, but I have yet to see a product we regularly use on the show or something I’d be tempted to try because the deal is so amazing.

Amy Dacyczyn (author of The Tightwad Gazette and my favorite frugality expert) says that coupons are almost always for things you don’t truly need and are designed to get you to pay more overall. (Which doesn’t mean I don’t use coupons. There’s nothing I “truly need” at Michael’s, but that ain’t keeping me and my coupon away from a little fall decor).

But here’s where the riveted part comes in. These people are saving so much money. So much that when I watch I start to forget they’re saving money on shit I don’t want; I just see the savings. The time they put in is a full-time job and I would never do that, but I also know that being frugal and getting deals often takes a time investment, and I’m not put off by that time investment. And so I keep watching, feeling like there must be some part of that show that I can apply to my own life.

What do you think? Are there lessons for the frugal-but-eco-minded in Extreme Couponing?

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