Extreme Versus Super Couponing


Okay, most of us have seen the TLC program “Extreme Couponing” where various individuals buy 200 boxes of cereal, 150 deodorants and enough toothbrushes for an entire small country.  For some viewers, it has sparked a desire to take couponing to the extreme.  For other viewers, they are appalled and disgusted.  If you have seen the television show, how do you feel about it?

I’ve only watched the first episode.  I had mixed emotions after the show.  As someone whose friends called her an extreme couponer, I initially relished the idea I had reached the elite ranks of “Extreme Couponing”.  But after watching the episode, I quickly realized my couponing and their couponing were worlds apart.

While I fully respected most of the individuals on the program for their ability to shop, I realized I didn’t quite fit the bill nor did I want to be crowned “The Most Extreme Couponer!”   I’m perfectly happy being a Super couponer…someone who uses extreme couponing tactics but doesn’t take it beyond its reasonable limits.

Now, some of you may be saying, “Yeah, whatever Erin!  I saw you on the news and saw you had bought 20 bottles of spices!  What the heck will you do with all those?  And 18 boxes of granola bars?  C’mon, THAT is extreme!”   Well, in essence it may be extreme for some people.  Yet in my world, 20 bottles of various spices will last about a year (expiration is 18 months) and since they were free, I will use them generously and more than likely share with others.

And the granola bars…well, guess what?  My family loves these and we use them as snacks for soccer, on car trips and for mid-afternoon energy when we are working on the farm.  18 boxes is a 4-6 month supply for our family. ..a reasonable amount for a family our size.   (I do really need to find a great homemade granola bar recipe, though.)

So, my question is this: What is extreme couponing and what is super couponing?  And is there a difference?  Now, if you’ve seen the TLC show, then you understand what an extreme couponer  looks like.  They purchase vast amounts of products….some things which their families won’t use.  Their homes are “retro-fitted” with shelving and cabinetry to accommodate their products.

As we’ve seen in the TV shows, their stockpiles encroach into their living space.  Some of these extreme couponers donate generously to local charities which is awesome.  The time invested in extreme couponing is many hours per week and much of their life revolves around couponing.  They typically have 4-5 computers in their home and they belong to an online clipping service.

Extreme couponers’ boundaries are wide and they will do whatever it takes to get that extreme deal.  As an extreme couponer, it’s not uncommon to have 5 or more subscriptions to the Sunday paper. Finally, I have read many times extreme couponers look at their couponing as a hobby and even call it a competitive sport!

Now, Super couponing (no TLC show about these guys since it doesn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor as the extreme couponers) are on a completely different level.  Their approach is more domesticated and applicable to the general population.

Super couponers shop within their limits but their bottom line always is to help lower their household budget.  They understand the “engineering” of matching up coupons and sales and they value stocking up reasonably.  They respect couponing rules and the code of ethics (e.g. never clearing a shelf or using fraudulent coupons).

A Super couponer spends 1-2 hrs per week researching, matching, clipping and preparing.  They have impressive stock piles but nothing outlandish.  Their stockpiles fit within the confines of normal household storage space.  Super couponers buy what they use and they use what they buy.

What kind of couponer are you or do you want to be?   Although there are lines of distinction between Extreme and Super couponers, they share a common desire to manage how their money is spent.  So please remember, there is room in the grocery store for all of us!  We shouldn’t condemn anyone for the level of couponing they chose…whether it’s extreme, super, nothing at all or somewhere in between.

What works for one family may not work for another. People have diverse lives and run their households differently.   It’s all about moderation, organization and doing what is best for your own family and your wallet.  So YOU decide what type of couponer YOU want to be!  If Extreme couponing turns your crank, go for it.  If you’d rather not use any coupons, more power to you.  For me, I’ll settle for Super Couponing…and I’m happy to share the checkout line with all of you!

Enjoy this blog?  You might also like Erin’s previous posts on Organizing Your Coupons, Couponing Basics, Coupon Myth Busting, and Stockpiling.

Back to the Save It blog home page.  AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club”  on the home page of MakeItMissoula.com (See the Daily Missoula Fix buttons in the left navigation bar) for savings updates throughout the week!

Click here to see the Coupon Queen’s “Save It” archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.