Last night in a vain attempt to find something to watch that didn’t involve plastic-looking forensic detectives solving crimes through a microscope, or a cookery programme featuring recipes that no one in my household would even look at let alone eat (we Sky+ the good shows and save them for the weekend), I scrolled through the hundreds of channels provided by those wonderful people at Sky. And I came across a programme that literally made my jaw drop. Extreme Couponing.
Yes, there is a reality TV show out there that tells us the story of women who collect coupons in their thousands, and go to the supermarket and spend them against their shopping. These women spend hours every day searching for coupons on the internet, in newspapers (one woman even climbed into dumpsters to collect discarded coupons) then go to the supermarket for their weekly shop. With nine shopping trolleys loaded with food, cleaning products, cosmetics, pet food and toilet roll, Amanda (who describes herself as “crazy about coupons” – no way?) started to put all her shopping through the checkout. $1,175 (yes, it’s American) later and out come the coupons. The checkout man had the patience of a saint, putting each coupon through as eagle-eyed Amanda watched the total of her shopping bill go down and down. Until… disaster struck and the till crashed under the sheer pressure of so many items being put through in one transaction, at which point Amanda practically hyperventilated. The shopping had to be split between three different tills and all put through again. Eventually all 1,000 coupons were entered and the total balance of her shopping came to $2. For nine trollies-worth of food etc. Not bad, I hear you groan? Certainly better than the measly Clubcard points I manage to acquire over several shopping trips, and my husband cringes with embarrassment when I use them to pay for a bottle of milk.
With two cars full of shopping at a cost of $2, and an extremely understanding husband, I begin to think collecting coupons is not such a bad idea, until we see the inside of Amanda’s house. Shelves and shelves and box upon box of pasta, washing powder, cat food, tins in rows and thousands of tubes of toothpaste clutter every single bit of space in her house. She has more stock than the supermarket she has just shopped in. You realise this is more than just saving a few quid every week, this is an obsession – and a really boring one at that. As Amanda describes “When I have done a whole shop using my thousands of coupons I feel like I have climbed a mountain.” Well love, save yourself some time, give your poor husband a day off and just climb up that mountain of loo roll you have stashed in your back bedroom instead. Continue reading