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Extreme Couponers: Food hoarding in disguise or organization at its finest?

by respaced on August 16, 2011

An Extreme Couponer’s storeroom.

I’ve been watching episodes of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC and have been fascinated by what seems to be both extremely organized and compulsive hoarding behavior.

In case you haven’t seen this show, “Extreme Couponing” showcases people who collect coupons to save 80, 90, even 99 percent off their groceries. But they don’t end up buying just the three or four bags of groceries people typically buy each week. Extreme Couponers take advantage of the deals to stock up, even if it’s on products they don’t use, even if they can’t possibly use all of that food before it expires. One episode showcased a couple who had a stockpile of over 7,000 diapers — and they didn’t have children.

Extreme Couponers often designate a large pantry or entire room to their stash of food. Food is meticulously arranged in rows to resemble a grocery store. They take pride in the variety and sheer amount of food and toiletries they own. They speak repeatedly about the “thrill of the hunt” for good deals. And they seem to experience some sort of “high” when they are able to buy hundreds, even thousands of dollars of food for just a few dollars.

I have heard some professional organizers call this show “Extremely Organized Food Hoarding.” Some point out that the compulsive acquisition of items and the fact that these items might have no value due to expiration dates or no use in the family is right in line with hoarding behavior. Certainly when you see people buying 124 boxes of quinoa, even though they have never even tasted it before, you begin to wonder. And yet, when you look at their meticulous coupon filing systems, their precisely calculated spreadsheets, and the strategized way in which they shop with multiple carts, you have to marvel at their organization.

So readers, what do you think of these Extreme Couponers? Are they compulsively hoarding food? Or are we merely jealous of their supremely organized, money-saving ways? Do you consider yourself an Exterme Couponer? Feel free to weigh in below.

Image courtesy of Extreme Couponing on TLC.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy August 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

It depends how they're using everything. I saw an episode where the family gave most of what they didn't use to friends and charity. But stockpiling groceries you don't even use just because you got a deal? That's compulsive hoarding.

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MaryJo @ reSPACEd August 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Yes, I saw an episode too where the groceries were donated to charity. That is pretty cool. But the couponer who did that was also a guy who lived for the "thrill" of finding a good deal. It was his high, and something he spent 60 hours a week pursuing. I couldn't help but feel that he was using the charity angle as an excuse to continue his obsessive behavior.

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Amanda February 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I would consider myself an extreme couponer but not to the point where I would purchase something I don’t use, unless its free & I can donate it, which even then I wouldn’t buy hundreds of it, 5 items at max. I like the feeling of buying something I use everyday & knowing I didn’t pay anything for it, when in reality it could have cost me much more. My boyfriend & I used to spend over $100 a month on things like razors and shampoo, and now we don’t have to. It’s such a relief!

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respaced February 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Hi Amanda, I think the key is you buy something you use everyday. Clutter is stuff we don’t use and will probably never use (despite our protestations that we will use it “someday”), and it sounds like you aren’t buying clutter. You’ve figured out a system that gets you what you need at the right price, which is something I think everybody wants! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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