Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Extreme Couponing showcases grocery hoarding

Tonight was the premiere episode of yet another reality/documentary series on cable channel TLC (remember when it used to be "The Learning Channel"?) entitled Extreme Couponing. The premise is as simple as it sounds -- a camera crew follows a couple coupon clipping psychos around as they prefer for one mammoth grocery shopping trip. The preparation -- usually scouring seemingly endless stacks of coupons from Sunday newspapers, itemizing their shopping list complete with quantities of each item and even going as far as one woman's compulsion leading her to have a spreadsheet detailing each and every item her favorite grocery store stocks and where the items are located within the store is showcased.

All of this borderline insane preparation leads to the big trip. The two women I saw showcased tonight ended up filling a minimum of four shopping carts each. The quantities of items purchased were either totally impressive of straight up insane. Dozens of packages of cold cuts, dozens of boxes of cereal and even 60-plus bottles of mustard.

Yeah, 60 bottles of mustard. That one sort of jumped off the screen at me. Unless you are literally eating a bowl of mustard for dessert with a meal once a week -- as a family -- there is no conceivable way that a family of five would use that much mustard in a lifetime. During the 8 or so warm months in Minnesota, I tend to grill 4-5 meals a week which means brats, hamburgers or weiners for approximately a third of those meals. Even with that kind of frequency I have only used two bottles of mustard in the past six years. That's where the hoarding aspect of Extreme Couponing began to become obvious to me.

These women put 6-10 hours into just the planning of their grocery shopping trips. Then there's the time spent actually gathering the massive quantities of each item into their train of grocery carts. But the big sticking point for me, personally, is the fact that the checkout process takes between one and two hours. If I did this at the local Cub Foods I'd probably have my tires slashed because the thousands of people waiting to check out would have one less checkout to go through -- for an hour or two. Once they return home, the hoarding aspect again becomes obvious -- they have entire rooms where they store their hauls. Having 2-plus dozen bottles of laundry detergent stockpiled seems ridiculous. Buying 50 or so cups of yogurt at a time is almost wasteful and to the woman who purchased 26 packages of cold cuts -- donate a few of those to your local food shelf.

I applaud anyone who can manage to save 90-99% on their food costs -- and to me doing that once a year would likely give me a raging hard-on because I hate spending money -- but this goes beyond extreme couponing and extreme savings, it comes down to buying massive quantities to prove something to yourself and even show off to those around you. It makes me a little angry to think that even some of the food they purchase may go to waste but this is America, the land of excess, and if a family of five feels the need to come home with five carts of groceries for six bucks, so be it because getting a rain check for another 20 cups of yogurt is definitely a first world problem.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one disturbed by this. It's obsessive and it's hoarding. wow.

Dave said...

Just the previews for that show annoyed me. Seriously, 60 bottles of mustard?

Anonymous said...

I am all for saving money. I have recently started using coupons on a regular basis so some of the tips I did find helpful. But I have to question if they truly use all of the items purchased. It wouldn't bother me so much if the ridiculous excess were being donated to the food shelf. There was that one guy who had a toothpaste room...he had a lot of stuff but he also donated enough stuff to fill 1,000 bags for our troops. They estimated that his donations would have totalled $20,000. That is amazing. His extreme couponing is actually going to a good that is something I can get behind. I also now know that when I go to the store for a bottle of mustard and they are all out not to blame the stockboys but the extreme grocery hoarders!

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine if they gave most of their stock pile away to those in need? Now, THAT would be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I thought it was a "hoarding" red flag. I actually paid attention once when my husband was watching, and I noticed that they bought stuff only because it was on sale...never mind that they would probably never use it, or even if they did, it would be expired in this life time. They just bought it just because. If that isn't compulsive, I don't know what is.

Ashley said...

I do believe this is hoarding due to the fact that while some people try to defend it saying that it's not because there isn't crap that's spoiled or dirty or all over the floors that's still bull. They still compulsively collect things and many times it's things they feel they must have to survive in the future. Because and this is the case with most hoarders as well, they lost their jobs and had to find a way to sustain how they were going to support themselves. Were they ever told they had a disease and in order to get rid of this disease they had to get rid of over half their stockpile they would be just as objective as hoarders. They are no different and my grandmother was a hoarder, she kept everything in nice neat piles... she still had way to much crap, things she never needed in her lifetime, just bought it at a garage sale.