During what has been said to be one of the worst economic crises to hit America, those affected by downsizing and layoffs have resorted to drastic measures to put food on the table and keep on top of their mortgage payments. This required tightening of the belt leaves little room for error.
One mistake can cost families their homes, their vehicles, and their sense of security. That’s why in today’s economy, every purchase is evaluated and every dollar scrutinized. Gone are the days of frivolous spending. In the year 2011, thrift is in.
TLC’s Extreme Couponing couldn’t have aired at a better time. People looking for ways to save a buck or two could watch the popular television series and pick up pointers from savvy shoppers like Jennifer Freeman, Joe and Kelly Charles, and Tammilee Tillison. Those that have never clipped a coupon in their life could finally see the benefit of doing so by watching the show and apparently they learned something.
People are using coupons now more than ever before. In fact, according to transaction settlement provider Inmar, “2010 coupon redemption held steady compared to 2009 levels. After years of decline, coupon usage began to rise markedly in October of 2008, coinciding with the U.S. financial crisis. That led to a 27 percent increase in redemption in 2009. For 2010, redemption remained at 3.3 billion consumer packaged goods coupons.”
Retailers Go to Extremes to Close Loopholes and Update Policies
Perhaps, more shoppers have started to take couponing seriously because of the economic situation while others paid more attention to what they were spending because of TLC’s show. On the surface, it appears harmless to roll up to the checkout and pay pennies on the dollar for everything in your shopping cart. The reality of this is that it takes one bad apple to spoil it for the bunch.
Extreme couponing tactics are apparently too extreme. If stores had lax policies regarding the use of coupons, they don’t now. Stacking coupons is now frowned upon by many retailers. Others limit the number of items a person can buy on sale. CVS and Walgreens clearly state the imposed limit on their store coupons. Other retailers like them note that items are limited and rainchecks won’t be issued. This gives consumers the heads up they need before stepping foot in the store.
Rite Aid, Target, and Publix revised their coupon policies so that they would limit the amount of store and manufacturer’s coupons accepted for one item and per shopping trip. Years of dealing with “extreme couponers” forced them to rewrite policies and change the way they handle diehard bargain shoppers. Apparently, free items do cost something. Large families that counted on stockpiling groceries and household necessities as a way of stretching their dollars complain about all of the changes.
Extreme Gluttons or Savage Savers?
One extreme couponer, J’aime Kirlew, was accused of fraud after her appearance on Extreme Couponing. Mommy bloggers and personal finance experts question the integrity of this super saver. Her tactics for obtaining free merchandise has been called “unethical”. The NY Post reported that “Super-Couponing” instructor Jill Cataldo reported the evidence she gathered against Kirlew on her blog. You can read all about it here.
Apparently, America loves to save money but its citizens do not appreciate standing behind a couponer in line. They also feel a bit unhinged when they go to buy a product and find entire shelves emptied because a manufacturer’s coupon made it free. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a bargain but I wouldn’t feel good stockpiling hundreds of sticks of deodorant in my garage when it takes me weeks to use just one.
TLC has unearthed a problem that went unnoticed for years. Without limitations, how far will extreme couponers go to save?
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.