Extreme Couponing: “Stockpiling Supermom” or Closeted Hoarder?

I should probably preface this by saying I have no problem with people trying to save money. I’m a freelancer; I need to make my dollars stretch, too. I use coupons when I can find them – when they’re applicable, anyway.

There’s saving money, and then there’s Extreme Couponing.

In the episode I just watched, the blonde protagonist, dubbed by the narrator as a “stockpiling supermom,” stood proudly in front of her racks of bottled water, soups, paper towels and stuff, telling the camera crew how seeing all these nice products “made her happy.” I’ve seen another television show where the lead stands in front of piles of things she doesn’t necessarily need, explaining that she needs them because they make her feel good.

It’s called Hoarders.

Granted, the couponers are somewhat more organized than your typical hoarders. Hell, they’re all extreme Type A personalities. There’s clearly a lot of math involved, and probably more planning than most invading countries exercise. Bulk purchases are sometimes broken down into separate “purchases” of 10-15 items apiece to benefit from…something. May Yoda protect the hapless clerk that screws up this system. My favorite part of the show is actually when the clerk stands there looking dumbfounded (or slightly irritated) by all the hand-wringing and paper-crunching that goes on.

This guy has 1,000 tubes of toothpaste in his room. “These were all free to me,” he said.

Let me be blunt. When the hell are you going to use a thousand tubes of toothpaste? Or 1,100 boxes of cereal? Are you preparing for 2012?*

Hmm. Maybe I can’t fault him for that. Okay. If the world ends and the extreme couponers are able to survive off their stockpiles, I’ll silently rue my poor decisions while hunting a radioactive raccoon with the help of my cockatiel.

Shit. Some gal bought 20 bottles of Tylenol. Actually, I take that back. I can’t say for certain it was Tylenol. It was in the drug aisle – maybe Mylanta? – and she was buying a lot of them. But drugs like that have expiration dates. Unless she’s planning on selling them to friends and relatives, she’s got no bloody reason to purchase that much of any drug. It’s going to go bad, lady!

Maybe all the couponing gives her headaches? Then I can imagine her going through 20 bottles of Tylenol.

It’s possible I’m slightly envious that I can’t pull off such marvelous fetes of savings. But I don’t really have the mental capacity – or patience – to devote 15+ hours a week to clipping coupons and forming a battle plan. Takes to damn long, and involves way too much math.

That’s not to say I’m not inspired. I’ll be checking out Fresh & Easy’s clippings next time they come in.

*Actually, the guy with the metric ton of toothpaste also donates a great deal of what he buys to troops overseas. A+, my man.

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