Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Now, I'm as big a fan of saving a buck as the next person, but have any of you seen the show "Extreme Couponing"?  I have been watching the show since it started, and have certainly admired the subjects' abilities to save money.  I also love coupon books like the Entertainment book and GreenZebra (the eco-version of the Entertainment book).  However, things start to get a little warped once you take things to the extremes you see in Extreme Couponing.

First of all, there is just so much needless consumption.  The stockpiles that the subjects have is impressive, but also worrisome.  Do we really need all this stuff?  I've seen episodes where people will deliberately purchase sample sizes of things despite the fact that larger versions are available, which would have less of a detrimental impact on the environment.  Very rarely will you see bulk items purchased on this show.  Just seeing their carts full of things in plastic containers causes my environmental guilt to act up.

Although this is a very broad generalization, most manufacturer's coupons are given on processed and packaged foods (when was the last time you saw a coupon for kale?), and most in-store coupons are on food products that are old, stale or expired.  Therefore the nutritional quality of such foods is questionable.  Does this mean that you can't find coupons for anything that is nutritious?  Of course not.  But generally the coupons are for the items that have less nutritional quality overall.

Finally, as much as I like the thought of saving money, most of the subjects I've seen on the shows (almost exclusively women, with the exception of only two men), are resoundingly materialistic.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with acquisition, but sometimes when I see or talk to people that are so driven by the pursuit of buying things, it gives me some cause for concern.  Buying things never makes people happy, because that is not its purpose.  Buying or acquiring is meant to be done to provide security, make one's life easier, or ensure survival.  There are less purposeful reasons to acquire like for entertainment.  But if we are looking for satisfaction or happiness as a result of buying things, we will always be disappointed, because the cycle of desire-acquisition-satisfaction never ends.  It is best to work on being innately happy.  Then, acquire the things you do with a purpose, but never with the expectation that they will make you happy, whole or satisfied.

Consumerism, materialism and health repercussions aside, I do find the show has opened my eyes to the whole concept of using coupons.  Admittedly, I have to work reasonably hard to get my hands on the ones I would want, but I am particularly happy that we got the GreenZebra.  It only cost us $10 at the trade show (normally the book is $20), but I've already used one coupon and have about fifty dollars worth of savings just in groceries that I will end up using.  This is my very toned-down version of extreme couponing...

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