I have to admit that I am intrigued by this extreme couponing phenomenon. For the uninitiated, Extreme Couponing is a new hit show on TLC. It is amazing to see someone buy $1,000 worth of groceries for $8.28. Wow. If you haven't seen it, here's how TLC promotes the show:
"Enter the world of bargain shoppers who have mastered the art of saving! In Extreme Couponing, meet the everyday people who save hundreds of dollars in a single trip to the store. Tune in to TLC to see the savings!"
I've seen the show a couple of times and it is amazing to see these women (I have yet to see a man featured) organize their lives around making huge grocery purchases while only actually paying for a very small percentage. They have definitely learned how to work the system and seem to derive a ton of psychological satisfaction by stockpiling their purchases. They are providing for their families in a measurable and significant manner.
One thing I've noticed is that most of the food they purchase using their coupons (they also buy paper products, deodorant, etc) is extremely unhealthy. It made me wonder whether or not an extreme couponer could use the same strategy to purchase healthy, organic and sustainably raised options. At first blush, it seems to me that majority of coupons are for canned soup, boxed meals, cereal, soda, and other packaged goods. Here's a link to a blog post where a couponing expert talks about healthy foods you can buy with coupons, but her definition of healthy and nutritious options isn't the same as mine. She includes foods like Ragu Pasta Sauce in her list. However, she does list a few healthy choices. My concern is that this extreme couponing fad encourages the purchase and eventual consumption of unhealthy choices in bulk. I'm raising the question and welcome your input.
In April 2011, George Van Antwerp wrote an interesting blog post titled "Health, Wealth, and Extreme Couponing." In his post he points out that these extreme couponers have the potential to make a huge impact on charities and food banks by donating portions of their stockpiles (I've read that many do this already). Of course, it would be ideal if these could be healthy foods. Here's a quote from George's blog post:
"Well, it go me thinking about how charities and food banks really need these people (extreme couponers). If they can buy thousands of dollars of goods for $50, imagine the impact that could have in a community. A single resource could activate a network of people to provide coupons and go pick up goods at no cost. Those goods could be shared with those that need them thereby reducing their out of pocket costs and improving their access to healthy foods."
Here are some video clips from YouTube that show Extreme Couponers with their stockpiles of groceries that they have procured using coupons.
For more information, here's the link to Extreme Couponing's Facebok page: