Discussing
Is 'extreme couponing' gluttony or good stewardship?

Jerod Clark

Tammy Hornbaker
May 17, 2011

That has been my thinking every since the first show.  How many people they could bless with the skills God has given them.  Sad, really.

Marykay
May 17, 2011

I agree with Jerod that many manifestations of this behavior is addictive and sinful. I, for one, do couponing but have never been able to get a cartload of stuff for free or almost free. However, if I could , I would gladly give it ALL to charity or a needy family. Wish more of those people could part with their stuff.

Candace
May 17, 2011

I hated being a cashier when I worked retail, and it was for this reason, too. I'm all for saving a few dollars and using coupons and rewards cards, but I hated it when people came through my line and got mad when the sale flyers limited the quantities of an item or we were out of stock or if the coupons didn't work. (Either outdated, didn't scan, limited quantities, etc.) I worked retail to pay for my colllege education, and even after I graduated, I worked retail. I'm so grateful for the job I have now. I will never go back to working retail again. I try to be nice to cashiers because I've been in their shoes, and I try to respect the rules of good business when I use a coupon. That's what a Christian should do.

Bethanykj
May 17, 2011

Jerod, I share the thoughts you posted here. I watched the episode in the image, and spent most of the time wondering aloud why these people kept so much stuff in their homes instead of sharing it with charity. I was relieved when one person finally gave away a pallat of cereal.<br><br>Your thoughts here reminded me of a few events in the Bible. First, when God sent the Israelites manna, they were not allowed to stockpile or save up any, only enough for a day or two before the sabbath. I interpreted this as God enforcing trust that God will provide again every day. Second, the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. These are both stories where it is bad and selfish to hoard things for yourself. But a little saving for lean times seems ok, after all Joseph saves all of Egypt by saving food for seven years. Perhaps the difference is when you don't trust God's provision and don't share with your community, then you are foolish.

Xioc1138
May 17, 2011

Extreme couponing (when did couponing become a verb again?), chapsticking, pop consumption - everything that we practice needs to be done with moderation in mind.  We can't let it become our God - we can't let it control us.<br><br>Whether it is good or bad really is up to the beholder and whether or not it promotes healthy and Godly practices.

Angela
May 17, 2011

AH! But you forgot Proverbs 6:6-8 which talks about the wisdom of the ant which "stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest." (Also read Prov 30:24-26) And what about the Joseph instructing Egypt to store food for the pending famine? Honestly, there are scriptures that back up being WISE in these matters. God seems to also value us using the resources he gave us to provide for our families.  <br><br>Do I like the show? HATE it for so many reasons which I won't bore you with here. Bascially, I think the show depicts couponing at ridiculous levels. But done well and smartly, couponing and even stockpiling are a great way to manage the money God gave you. I suppose I'm a bit biased since I run a coupon blog and am quite tired of hearing people lumping anyone that chooses to keep a well-stocked pantry as a hoarder. (BTW, yes I have a full pantry, but I teach other people how to do this as well on my site and just got back from teaching a class hosted by my local food bank. BTW Part 2 my toothpaste "stockpile" is 4 tubes of toothpaste - not a room full.)<br><br>Btw the manna? I don't interpret it so literally as you. I think it says that we need to look to God as our spiritual bread on a daily basis. Isn't this what Jesus himself taught? See John 5:58: "Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever" Hmmmm. I don't think he was talking about a loaf of Wonderbread. <br><br>Thanks for letting my share, even if not everyone will agree with my POV.

Angela
May 17, 2011

I have an earlier comment pending...but want to say...a big ol "DOH". I totally missed seeing you did mention the Egypt story. I apologize for the oversight and it appears we may agree at least on that point. I still hold to my manna interpretation and ant references though. Thanks. ;)

Maureenherring
May 18, 2011

Is the money saved worth the time and storage space necessary? Extreme couponing often seems to sacrifice stewardship of time and space for money. Could the people on Extreme Couponing end up on Hoarders?

Keri
May 18, 2011

I don't think the idea of manna is meant to be interpreted as literal bread either.  I completely agree with you, Angela-we are to see this as our spiritual food to look to Him for on a daily basis.  We need a continual refreshing from God.  We can't become like Him by only seeking Him once a week.  We must seek fellowship with Him on a daily baisis, just as the Israelites collected their manna daily and had to consume it THAT day.  <br><br>The Christian life calls for trust in God, but also common sense and practicality.  I love that you mention the Proverb about the ant.  We also can't go about it with a sense of fear, as we're told in Mattew 6.

Bethanykj
May 18, 2011

I'm not sure what you mean when you say you interpret the manna story less literally than I do. I think God meant it literally to the Israelites then. I don't think it means that we should only ever have one day's worth of food in the house. I think especially in the context of the rich fool story it does imply that we should trust God for our literal sustenance as well as spiritual. There is no need to be condescending about it.<br><br>But I agree with you that some preparing for the future is just good sense, including taking advantage of good deals when they appear. I have a few tubes of toothpaste in a cupboard as well, I think it's unfair for you to take my musings on a few bible stories in the context of a show about people you agree are acting irresponsibly as an indictment of your more reasonable habits.

Angela
May 18, 2011

God quite literally did provide for the Israelites daily with manna, yes can't argue that, but my point is how would we apply this to our lives now? I see it as seeking God in his Word &amp; through prayer every day for our spiritual sustenance. That's all. <br><br>As someone that runs a blog attempting to teach people how to do this reasonably, this show has caused many misconceptions about how to use coupons and stockpile. I now get countless "oh, so you do extreme couponing?" type comments and people assume I'm a hoarder - and why am I not giving away everything to the food bank, etc etc.? So if I came off as a bit defense, sorry, this is a very touchy subject for me and I've worked very hard to try to set the record straight for those of us who go about doing this in what I consider to be a reasonable way (and no, not just me - the majority of people that use coupons). This show makes a complete mockery of what I do. <br><br>Even more upsetting to me are the people who go on this show and do trips above and beyond what they normally would do in order to "wow" their audience.

Angela
May 18, 2011

Bethany, I think Keri hit on what I wanted to say in a MUCH clearer way.... trusting in God, but walking it out in common sense. And I agree...go ants! ;)

PastorChelsey
May 18, 2011

I first thought of the manna story in the OT. But I also thought of the parable Jesus tells in Luke 12 about the rich fool in the land of plenty that built storehouses for his crop so that he could relax, eat, drink and be merry as he stored up enough for years and years. The last part of that parable describes his actions as storing up treasures on earth and being poor towards God. Is storing toilet paper under our children's beds and turning spare bathrooms into pantries our modern day equivalent?

Angela
May 18, 2011

What the show doesn't show you is that the overwhelming majority of the items are donated. This is what I've read on the blogs of several of the contestants on the show.<br><br>The unfortunate part? TLC rarely indicates that the goods have been donated. (Although on a recent episode, a family said everything they get was going to a food bank/community.) This is a major issue I take with the show. They've left out a TON of information, allowing the viewers to fill in the blanks. But it's TLC...what do we expect? ;)

n8carp
May 18, 2011

While I appreciate the discussion this article has created, I think there's a bit of a false dichotomy being made.  Instead of asking if this phenomenon is right or wrong (and by extension "Christian or unChristian"), what if we think about couponing and other discount retail practices from macro point-of-view.  In other words, perhaps we're a little too focused on the monetary costs for the individual consumer, and should instead be asking questions about the social/environmental costs of these practices--that to me seems like stewardship.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 18, 2011

Thanks n8carp. What do you see as some of these social/environmental costs?

n8carp
May 18, 2011

While it may seem a little beyond the scope of Jerod's article, I see couponing as strongly reinforcing a mindset of "cheapness" in Western culture that emphasizes a low consumer price-point cost of a product above all else.  It feels good to save money by shopping at major discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Ikea--and given the economic situation, many people don't have options but to shop at discount stores--but the low prices of these products come from companies passing on hidden costs, such as unfair labor practices, unsustainable forestry and agriculture, wasteful transportation practices as consumers must drive large distances to reach these retailers, and overall wastefulness as we tend to throw out and replace these cheap products rather than repair them.<br><br>Again, as mentioned earlier, I'm not sure couponing is so much of an issue of efficiency or addiction so much as it's a tool to keep us buying into a mindset that cheaper is always better.

Keri
May 18, 2011

I hear what you're saying about the social/environmental costs.  I think those are real concerns when it comes to the American marketplace.  But, as a couponer, I just have to chime in and say that most major couponing isn't done at the big box stores. It's at the local grocery store or drug store, buying consumable goods.  It's not the idea that cheaper is better that propels me to buy with coupons.  It's that I want to save my money for other things (like a family vacation), so why pay $3.50 for toothpaste, when I can get it for free?

Laura Lee
May 22, 2011

I'm often asked for my money saving tips as the author of the book Broke is Beautiful.  I get interviewed, but the reporters never quote what I say because it doesn't fit the narrative of the story they're doing.  My money saving tip is not to look for coupons and not to "friend" your favorite products to get the latest bargains because it keeps you focused on shopping rather than on asking if you need anything more than what you have.  Not buying something is always cheaper than saving 15c.  Of course, buying something when it is affordable and putting it aside for when you need it is not necessarily gluttony.  Overall, though, I think getting the focus off of consuming and shopping is much better for financial and mental health.

David Peach
May 26, 2011

I've not seen the show "Extreme Couponing" (nor even heard of it until now), but I have seen people with these exact behaviors. Christians even. While many start out with the idea of stewardship, it becomes a lifestyle that is all consuming for them. Certainly not all my couponing friends are this way. But when it borders (or crosses over) on gluttony or covetousness, it is time to step back and reevaluate.<br><br>Good thoughts!

Couponingtomaine
March 16, 2012

I know that I'm almost a year late to post on this, but I wanted to input my two cents.

First off, here is what I agree with:
1) It is biblical and shows good stewardship when done properly.
2) It CAN turn into an addiction, but does not always.
3) The producers and editors at TLC pick and choose what to show you from interviews. Just because something was not shown or mentioned in an episode, does not mean that it doesn't happen.
4) Some people are very, very quick to judge... Which, by the way, IS "unchristianly."

I am a proud coupon user. I have a "mini-stockpile" which is happily contained in my closet. I do not stock up on more than I will be able to use (or give away) before the product's expiration date. I do, however, have much more than my DH and I need. With the excess, we donate to charities or will put together gift baskets from birthdays/holidays. My DH pointed out a couple months ago that couponing successfully is one of my talents and so part of our monthly tithe (yes, AFTER the 10%) is to put together boxes of products to donate to various shelters, food banks, or other NP organizations.

My husband is permanently disabled and I am a full-time student who (due to medical issues) am unable to work out of the home. Using coupons and stocking up on items when they are free or cheap is how I contribute to our financial situation. Because we are on a fixed income, if I did not shop the way I do, there is absolutely no way that we would have necessities like toilet paper, toothpaste, bandaids, dish soap, etc etc etc.

And my last point is this - There is a difference between a habit and an addiction. A habit is an activity that can be controlled and moderated, an addiction is something which a person has given up or lost control over. I have a couponing habit - I enjoy it, it helps me relax, it's my hobby. I do not have an addiction which I cannot control.

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