This week I saw an advertisement promoting an “Extreme Couponing Workshop” coming soon to Nashville.
1) I never knew that “coupon” could be a verb
2) I would’ve never thought of combining the words “Extreme” and “Couponing.”
That seems a bit like saying, “Violent Cotton” or “Nuclear Cupcake.”
3) I have reservations about being in a room full of frugal, aggressive women, all armed with sharp, pointed scissors.
Extreme Couponers are mammas on a mission, so even if you spot your BFF in the aisle at Publix, just smile, nod, and maintain your cart speed. You can chat later and she can tell how you she practically got a 25 pound bag of Purina Dog Chow for free by coupon stacking on the store’s double coupon day. (You’ll be tempted to say, “But, Cheryl, you don’t even have a dog,” but you’ll be missing the point.)
I saw a lady at Kroger recently with an insert in that top level of her grocery cart that made it like a mini-desk, and she had a 3-ring binder thicker than a Harry Potter novel filled with coupons organized in sections. I wanted to say, “My kids used to have a notebook like that for their Pokemon cards.” But she was clearly in “the zone” and her facial expression suggested that she wasn’t in the mood for interruption or humor.
Extreme Couponing clips some questions for me such as …
- Are there pros who coupon for a living? Is there are a LeBron James of couponing that all others idolize and aspire to be someday?
- Will Extreme Couponing someday be an Olympic sport? If curling is, then why not couponing?
- Will ESPN broadcast Extreme Couponing matches that can only rival watching a poker tournament or fishing show on TV for evidence that one needs to get out of the house and reel in an actual life? (And don’t think for a moment that televised couponing is out of the question — not when several summers ago ESPN broadcast the final rounds of the National Rock-Paper-Scissors Association tournament. No, I’m not kidding. Mid-summer is the barren desert of sports television.)
- Was Extreme Couponing not actually launched by the coupon poker scene in the 1983 film Mr. Mom? (Watch the scene here http://bit.ly/2jiTgLC) I rest my case.
As a public service, being a professional journalist (I volunteer to write a weekly column) I did some painstaking research (thank you, Google) and eventually (after about 40 seconds) uncovered a hidden article (third entry from the top) with some fascinating Extreme Couponing facts and cautions that I’ll share with you now.
- The concept of “extreme couponers” was first mentioned in 2010 by The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “Hard Times Turn Coupon Clipping into the Newest Extreme Sport.” (See I told you this would become a sport!)
- The TLC network’s scripted reality TV show “Extreme Couponing” ran for three seasons. (If only “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” had perished after three seasons.)
- Not only are there workshops, websites, and blogs for couponers, you can take a college course in couponing from schools like Jackson State University. (Belmont, you better jump on this before Vanderbilt does.)
- Experts caution that couponing can become an addiction. The article notes that, and I quote, “One couponer notoriously stockpiled 60 free diabetes monitors … even though she doesn’t have diabetes.” (Does the TV show “Hoarders” come on immediately after Extreme Couponing”?)
- Coupon fraud has become big crime. In 2013 an Arizona woman was sentenced to two years in prison plus $5 million in restitution payments for masterminding a $40 million counterfeit coupon ring. The highest sentence for coupon fraud reported to date is 17 years in prison and $5 million in penalties. (Makes you think twice about trying to slip that expired Colgate coupon past the cashier, doesn’t it?)
- Men are couponers too. Hold onto your pink safety scissors ladies, one study reveals that “15% of male shoppers confessed that they’ve clipped coupons.”
From the use of the word “confessed” I take it that these men are not proud of their behavior. But I’m secure in my masculinity and am not too proud to be seen with a coupon. In fact, I’m willing to risk serious jail time by forging this 60% OFF coupon for any Lexus of Cool Springs convertible in stock.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.