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Extreme couponing – 3 reasons to avoid watching

Extreme couponing

Avoid Extreme Coupning

A new season of Extreme Couponing aired yesterday and like I expected, I am still disgusted by it.

When Extreme Couponing first aired back in December 2010, I was really excited. I couldn’t wait for people to see just how much couponing can help you to save money.

What I didn’t expect, was a show that displayed a lack of real couponing.

Because of the way the show is, I no longer watch Extreme Couponing – and you shouldn’t either. Here’s why:

1. Not real

I thought that this show was created to teach new couponers how to use coupons effectively, but what it actually is, is a show that is all about ratings. Even if that means teaching these newcomers how to coupon the wrong way.

On many episodes, you will see shoppers buy hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of groceries and pay just a few dollars for it all. This is absolutely not how it works in real life.

These extreme couponers know a few months in advance that they will be on the show – which gives them plenty of time to purchase high value/free coupons from coupon clipping services and on eBay.

Extreme Couponing does not add the cost of these coupons into the total amount paid by the shopper at the end of his/her transaction, which means the grand total paid is actually more than what they say it is.

2. Scripted

To say the show is scripted is a huge understatement.

Many times you will see the shoppers clear entire shelves worth of products.

There was even one episode where another shopper came up to an extreme couponer and asked if she was taking all of a certain product and mentioned that he only wanted to buy one.

She said yes and he looked annoyed. This was fake. That man worked for the show.

When it comes to clearing shelves, the shoppers on Extreme Couponing actually order those large quantities from the stores in advance. They clear the shelves for the show, to make for good TV, and then put all of the products back on the shelves and pick up their orders when they’re checking out.

3. Changed store policies

Most stores on the show actually alter their coupon policies just for these shoppers. They do this so that they can get their store advertised on television.

When you see a shopper do 15 transactions in order to take advantage of in-store discounts, this is likely a store that changed their policy just for the show.

They would never actually allow a shopper to do this.

Extreme couponing is making coupon usage harder for normal couponers.

Stores are now changing their coupon policies, and not in favour of couponers.

I have no doubt that this is because of the amount of new couponers that Extreme Couponing has spawned, trying to get every deal possible.

Instead of watching a fake show such as Extreme Couponing, consider doing some real couponing instead.

You can certainly be an extreme couponer in Canada, but you will never be able to achieve what you see on the show (unless you pay for a ton of FREE coupons!).

What are your thoughts on the Extreme Couponing TV show?


  1. Kim

    Thanks for another GREAT article Cassie!! I use to watch the same program but only got frustrated that we couldn’t do it here in Canada. That being said, after doing some research I realized exactly what you have stated, it is all FAKE!! I am happy to save the money I do on couponing and don’t go to extremes leaving empty shelves!! I couldn’t coupon without all of your advice and wonderful coupon match-ups each week!! I appreciate all that you do for us here in coupon land!!!

  2. Krista

    Thank you! I say this all the time about this show. There is nothing worse than being in a store with a few coupons in my hand and being compared to that show. It’s like, “did you see me dump shelves of stuff on my cart?” NO! This show is making it harder to be an honest couponer trying to save a few dollars for my family.

  3. maria

    Thank you i have said this too that if they keep showing couponing on t.v. as a negative or show these rediculos transactions they will crack down on it and it will harm the people who use it because they really need it , i dont even own a car so i coupon to save money towards buying a car and hopefully soon a house for me and my family , I get ticked off because yes the states seems to have some better high quality coupons but at the end of the day i’d rather be in canada anyways lol thanks for posting this it made my day 🙂

  4. Susan

    Thank You I also hate this show> It puts people who coupon honestly into bad light. I just buy what I need and don;t overstock as most items have expiry dates.

  5. Sara

    My favorite part EVERY TIME is when the terrible actor/cashier asks very fakely “do you have any coupons today?”

    My brother in law was watching it with me once and he commented on how there always has to be a tense moment where something goes wrong and the music gets all dramatic. He asked me if that happens in real life. I told him sometimes, but not really. Now whenever he goes shopping with me he teases me about it. “I hope we don’t have to cue the “dramatic music!”

    The way I see it, Extreme Couponing is the same as any other “reality” tv show.

  6. annette

    Some of the stuff that they get on the show is just stupid. I coupon because i have a growing family but i do not have an entire room filled with stuff. I have maybe two months of food product but for tne most part its laundry soap, cleaners, shampoo, ect… Also my sisters and mom use from it so that people cant say im hording. The other day i got a great deal on deodrant so i had coupons to buy 20. the lady behind me was upset because who in their right mind needs that many. I explainded to her that i was actually buying for 5 ppl and that about 3 times a year i donate to my local womens shelter or the food bank she shut up. My last donation was worth over 400.00. My friend and i were gonna try to plan a trip to the states to try to extreem coupon to see actually how easy it would be because then you would figure out how fake it would be.

  7. Jenn

    i just wanted to say that i completely agree with what you said. I found that the best way to save money is to buy items while they are on sale and use coupons with those items when you can. i make my menu at home according to what i have in my home. i have a large family and managed to cut our groceries from over 1000$ a month to 450$ plus an allowance of 100$ for stock up a month just by using your advice and buying while items are on sale. so a huge thank you for helping us save 500$ a month just on groceries.

  8. Heather

    I couldn’t agree with you more. All this show does is promote greed. Do you really need 90 bottles of hot sauce????? (Although I do wish that stores in Canada would allow you to double coupons.)

  9. gillian

    I watch this show because it is a reality show and I knew it was staged from the start.

  10. Betty

    I’ve never seen the show (course I don’t watch much on tv except the news & a CBC family show called “Heartland). But I have noticed over the last 15 yrs. or so, that there are getting to be less & less coupons with lower values attached to them. If the coupons are only worth 15 -25 cents I don’t even bother with them. I like to make them worth my while (like $4. off Claritin which helps to pay for the tax on them). I also noticed big box stores (like Loblaws) will not take certain coupons unless it’s their own (greed maybe?). The only store that I know of that takes computer printed coupons is Wal-mart even with a UPC code. Costco definitely doesn’t take manufacturer’s coupons; just their own. So I basically just look for sales & stock up when the price is right.

  11. Theresa

    I did wonder how one store would have like 200 packages of maxi pads on their shelves…..I have never seen any store carry that much of one product on a shelf.

    Really what turned me off was the obese people on the show. Loading their carts with pure crap. Not a good message.

  12. stacey

    I agree the show is well, extreme. The real shame is that after saving up coupons for a few weeks and going out on a Saturday to stock up you occasionally get sideway glancesI’m not a nut shopping at midnight so I fill can a room with boxes of pasta !And you certainly can’t explain to everyone that you use some of these products to help your mother whose on a fixed income or that you donate to christmas boxes and homeless shelters.(nor should you have to)Some are very inspiring but others are just crazy and it”s all staged.Had no interest in watching after the first season.

  13. Tanya

    I love the show–for ENTERTAINMENT! That’s all it is. But I totally disagree that you can’t get tons for free in Canada. I regularly have a bill in the hundreds and pay a few dollars and I never buy coupons. I regularly donate to friends, families–just found out about a family whose 14 yr old was diagnosed with cancer. They’ll be doing tons of driving for treatments –so they will be receiving awesome baskets of essentials–all because of couponing. The stores are great about ordering me the amounts I need. And yes I have a whole stockpileroom–it’s neat and orderly and I will never again pay full price for anything. We are a family of 7 including 2 teenagers and our grocery budget is $400-$500 per month–that leaves alot of room for giving and having fun with our money. Even though the set up of the show is fake and some of those people seem a bit crazy, don’t believe you can’t do it in Canada! Happy adventures in couponing!

  14. teachermum

    I watched a few of the first ones but that was enough. Same story every time, different people. And the size of their stockpiles…absolutely ridiculous! Not to mention that most wasn’t even what I would consider healthy food! There was one good show, a man and his wife that had piles of stuff in their basement, then when they had what the needed they donated it specifically to goody bags for the troops and their basement was then empty. Enough deodorant for 150 years? What on earth is the point? There has been fraudulent coupon use on the show as well, given that the coupons are scanned and only part of the UPC code has to match–here they have to read every single one so that can’t happen.

    I rarely use coupons for my family’s groceries. They just don’t have coupons for real food and that is usually what I buy. We also can’t get overages to make any difference in the grocery bill with the taxes we pay. The coupons I use are for H&B products that I donate to our local shelter. They are 90% of the time for scented products I don’t bring into the house. Free BBQ sauce doesn’t come up very often! And the free trial sized Crest Pro Health Rinse that I have donated still cost me 13 cents each…

    I’ve never calculated my savings like Cassie does as I have always been a sale shopper. But I’m guessing I could say I save 30-40% at a time but only because I only buy what is on sale for the most part, not because of coupons at all. I don’t save 50% when chicken is on for $2.99/lb because I would never buy it for $5.99/lb!!! If it isn’t on sale and I run out-we don’t have chicken again until it is on sale! I’ll be buying blackberries this week for a buck…but wouldn’t say I’d saved 60% doing so because I ONLY ever buy blackberries when they are a buck!

    I do wish we could double, that stores sales follow the coupons and that the bar codes were scannable like they are in the States though…

  15. Pamela @

    I’ve only ever watched this show briefly, but the people on it struck me as extremely greedy, and just a notch above “Hoarders” – they’re just better-organized! I also didn’t like how all the food they stockpile seem unhealthy for the most part. But I guess since it is a “reality show” the more extreme the better the ratings.

  16. Mary

    Like many (MANY) people, I first started couponing after watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing. I only watched a few episodes (they’re all the same after a while) and I really liked it, but I did NOT expect it to be a how-to of real life couponing in Canada. It did inspire me to research coupon policies in Canada and to be a smart couponer here in my home town. Yeah, it’s pretty easy to spot the “reality show” staging but as long as people understand that it’s not a reflection of what their own experiences will be (especially in Canada) I think it’s all right.

  17. lyndsay

    Extreme couponing was what got me into it in the first place. however just like you you said. i thought i could get lots more for my money. but in reality you can’t do that every shopping trip. i started learning and then after watching you on global and through experience i learned the right way.i’m still learning, it takes time and some hard work. thanks to everyone who has helped me along. we are all after the same goal : saving money and thats what makes us a great group

  18. Krista

    @teachermum quote, “I rarely use coupons for my family’s groceries. They just don’t have coupons for real food and that is usually what I buy.”
    How about coupons for meat, chicken, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, cheese? I find these regularly.
    Even Metro sends coupons to their AirMiles customers. I have received Metro bonus coupons for points and dollars off on: sockeye salmon, salad, fruit platters, cereal, chicken and yogurt.

  19. Eve

    I too got into couponing from the reality show. However I quickly became disinterested when I saw what they were buying.I find Cassie’s website the best and have learned so much from it. And now these booklets that you have referred us to I have downloaded and read on Kindle PC. I am learning quick ways to make household products that work great and cost pennies enabling me to spend less and use less coupons. I donated my first sample sizes of shampoos body washes to homeless shelter.I also always buy around sales. Rarely buy anything full price.and use coupons on products too and watch sales cycles.My food bill is$200 lower a month for the two us us.and I am getting away from buying prepackaged items that I would buy when starting couponing and switching to make by hand eg taco seasoning, salad dressings,frugal Weight watchers meals.I am making up my grocery list of items I need that I will get at next point remeption at Shoppers for free!

  20. Betty

    @ teachermum & anybody else: Actually, Canada did at one time have double savings coupons (about 40 yrs. ago) but it didn’t last very long (my guess is the businesses lost money on it) & it was discontinued within about 6 months of it starting. I guess I’m showing my age but it is a good history lesson in couponing in Canada

  21. Jennifer

    Hi Cassie! Love the topic. I really dont like the show at all, for the first year I watched it but it is so fake. In addition to the to the topics raised already I do not like the excessive stockpiling of items. I only buy as much as what I would reasonable use in a period of time. When I see someone on the show stock up on a 100 deoderants I think to myself, no one would use that in 20 years, let alone it dries out within 2 years..I gues they dont care as they didnt pay “anything” for it. It promotes over consumption in a society of immediate consumption and disposal of items. At least I wish they would take the time to donate those items to people in need. I HATE when they open up boxes of items and dump them individually into the cart, REALLY why whould you take the time to put them in the cart individually, do you REALLY want to stand in line and watch each one scanned, another form of sensationalizing on the show….well that is my two cents…Thanks Cassie for doing what you do, I know it helps me out immensely and I have educated many of my freinds on how to coupon and save realistically. Keep up the great work!

  22. Crystal

    After the show aired here, I noticed our local Wal-Marche put up signs saying that the TLC show Extreme Couponing is only in the USA and they do not all coupon stacking etc.

    I have always used coupons when I had them and needed something. Recently after writing to Colgate they sent me $1 off coupons! I proceeded to Wal-Marche expecting the winter green (or whatever it is called) tooth paste was at least $1.67 per tube. I was excited to see that it was $1 each so I got three tubes of tooth paste for FREE! That is the best deal that I have received.

    The cashier stares me down and reads each coupon painstakingly slowly before she gives me the money off, especially at Wal-Marche. It drives me bonkers sometimes. I usually have about 3 per order and put them directly with the product. The other people in the line glare at me. It is hilarious. Once a cashier wanted me to sign the Quebec resident only spot and I had to argue with her that as I lived in BC I didn’t have to sign. That was annoying. I know they are doing their jobs, but still your job is to serve the customer, not make them feel like an idiot or argue with them when they are trying to save a buck!

  23. Poor Fat Chick

    When i first watched the show i wanted to know more about it and after researching i realized it wasn`t like that on the show at all. But really to me that is fine.. i know TV is fake and therefore this show is as well.
    However i do watch the show every week mainly for inspiration and motivation… also while its on its gives me an hour to clip coupons and stuff like that 🙂

  24. Carrie Hamm

    I love watching the show – it’s a tv show and you have to take it at that. There are a few things I have learned about couponing price matching and lost leaders

  25. Anne

    Anyone know where someone without cable can watch full episodes online?

  26. teachermum


    “How about coupons for meat, chicken, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, cheese? I find these regularly.”

    The only meat coupons I have seen are for hamburger when you buy Hamburger Helper (don’t usually buy such boxed things and I have a freezer full of hamburger from a meat order!) and for chicken that either I can’t find here or is Prime which is way over what I would pay even with the coupon. I’ve only ever found cheese coupons for the slices or strings (don’t buy many of either as we prefer “real” cheese) , once or twice I have been able to use printed cheese coupons. As for the bananas, strawberries and yogurt-you need to buy cereal to get those and oftentimes around here those are never on sale cheap enough at the right time and those boxes can be hard to locate. I have so much cereal right now (why does everyone stop eating it when you stock up?) that I don’t really pay much attention to those ads.

    I have received some airmiles coupons or printed product coupons for Metro, but they are so expensive here that oftentimes I won’t pay the price in the store while the coupon is valid. The air miles aren’t worth that much!

    I see butter coupons mentioned but I’ve never found those around here.

  27. Krista

    @teachermum, Kelloggs frequently has the $5 Mastercard gift card offer with cereal. You don’t need to buy a ton of cereal for this if you do recycle walks. These are useful for meat, cheese, fruits, veggies, whatever.

    Also, Canadian Tire frequently has M & M meat coupons, $5, with scratch card promos (no purchase necessary). There is a wide selection of meats, frozen veggies, frozen fruit etc. at M & M.

    Creativity and ingenuity is the key. If you user name implies you are a teacher, creativity and ingenuity are both hallmarks of that profession.

    Happy shopping!

  28. RonNasty64

    All reality TV is bad, stop watching it so it can crawl back under the rock from which it came.

  29. teachermum

    Great ideas Krista, but I’m out in the boonies! Not practical to do a recycle walk for me. I have done the cereal/mastercard promo in the past when cereal was enough below $5 to make it worth the stamps and drive to the post office but if it just recovers the cost of the cereal there is no gain. Free cereal is still good however! Finding discarded boxes would be wonderful!

    Also, it’s more than $5 gas for me to pop into town so the Canadian Tire coupon is only worth something if we have a reason to be in town on a Saturday and most often we don’t. Spending $5 in gas just to get a “free” $5 product at M&Ms doesn’t gain me anything. I do take into account the gas so miss some deals just because it would cost me more in gas than I save. I’m in town on Sunday for church (and will grab a few groceries needed then) but many weeks pass that I don’t even make one single grocery shopping trip if we can make do without!

    My creativity and ingenuity comes into play by coming up with many healthy meals using sale items with the minimum of shopping trips! And it isn’t like we couldn’t afford for me to go to the store, any store, even the way overpriced Foodland 7 minutes down the road, and buy whatever we pleased at any time…I just don’t care to do that! I’d rather save up and go to Disneyworld!

  30. Jimmy

    I won’t go into great detail but this show is fake. They place ads in newspapers looking to “interview” people who use coupons more then someone else. They then say something like wanna be a star and be on tv? They say YES they pay them for their time and help them get coupons for everything they need and ask them to make room for it.

    So the show stays on, person gets paid and got alot of coupons, supermarket gets free advertising for altering things and making it wide open for them to shop and all that.

  31. kyla

    I have to disagree with you on your last point. If a cashier is “slowly painstakingly reading the coupon”… They are doing their job. Period.

    Serving the customer is the first priority… but a cashier who is doing their job will not risk getting written up, suspended, or any other forms of discipline to ring through your coupons faster. If you have several coupons, coupons that are the “really good ones”, and are known to be a couponer, be prepared to have a longer check-out. Its the reality. A cashier who ISN’T scrutinizing your coupons isn’t doing her job.

    I’ve been a cashier over 15 years, and it’s a part of my job to be sure the coupons I accept are legitamate, fit into our policies, etc. I try to be as quick as possible, but someone using coupons on every single item, using multiple coupons, raises flags for me, and I WILL be double checking all of them to be sure they aren’t trying to slip in extras, or attempting to stack, or whatever. Because it’s my job. AND, I expect, that if someone is using multiple coupons, that the know that their transaction will take longer.

    If you don’t like a transaction taking longer because you are using coupons, then don’t use them.

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