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Extreme Couponing: Woman Arrested for Stealing Newspapers

This article was written by in Consumer. 17 comments.

I’ve spoken out against the concept of “extreme couponing” a few times already. In search of ratings, television shows — and in particular, “reality” television shows, use creative editing to make practitioners seem crazier than they are, but the concept has caught on so well, some people, in real reality, stop at very little in order to save some money. Never mind that the mathematics behind extreme couponing is often exaggerated; never mind that the typical couponer could earn more money than she saves by spending the same amount of time working more; never mind that excessive couponing ruins savings possibilities for everyone else and increases prices.

The pressure to find the biggest score has couponers breaking laws under the auspices of “savings savvy.” People who still have non-digital newspaper subscriptions have been reporting an increasing number of missing deliveries. These newspapers are being stolen off porches by unscrupulous discount hunters. Walking door-to-door isn’t efficient, however, and many couponers have discovered that they can simply lift stacks of papers earmarked for early morning deliveries and newspaper vending machines.

Grocery shoppingEarlier this month, an extreme couponer was arrested for stealing newspapers. Legitimate extreme bargain hunters claim that this practice is not common, and this is not a behavior that extreme couponers support. This message is getting lost in today’s culture where super-frugality is a sport, and getting products for bargains, for free, or for even less is more important than either logic, ethics, or the law.

People can certainly be successful without resorting to illegal tactics and without hoarding unneeded products in order to pay less money for needed products, but the competition to win at this game can be so intense that it drives people to do stupid things. And when they’re caught, they claim they didn’t know stealing was illegal.

“Moderation in all things” is a classical philosophy ideal that, when followed, could help guide someone toward a more satisfying life. I don’t always agree with this philosophy, but when it comes to extreme fanaticism about a concept, the purpose will sometimes become secondary to the fanaticism itself. The idea behind extreme couponing isn’t to get as many great deals as possible, and build new shelves and buy more refrigerators to store all these great deals, it’s to spend as little as possible on those items which are necessary.

If extreme couponing has turned into an obsession, especially if it encourages someone to resort to breaking laws to satisfy the thrill of getting something for nothing and reducing the quality and quantity of time one spends on other important things in that person’s life, any possible savings will not make up for the lowered quality of life.

Photo: calamity_sal

Published or updated August 14, 2011.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 wylerassociate

I can’t say that i’m surprised that this lady got arrested. Unfortunately in america, this lady’s arrest won’t send a message to extreme couponers to relax and tone down the euphoria over couponing.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

I guess my question would be what kind of MESSAGE is it that us couponers supposed to get
anyway? I’m wondering have you attempted it yourself ? As a couponer myself i can say i DO NOT steal coupons! In this time of economic crisis its not only frugal but absolutely necessary to save money anyway you can… since December of 2010 my husband and myself have saved 5,000 in non perishable items, not even beginning to guess what we have saved in food! Im not KRAZY with it but we do allocate 1 hr per week clipping filing and organizing coupons, then printing my shopping list off my websites and hitting stores about once every 2 weeks… and for my time I save 400 a month over what i spent before coupons so i say to you….stay in the dark thats just fine with US more money or me!

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avatar 3 shellye

As with many things, the handful of bad apples out there ruin it for those of us who do it for fun or out of necessity, and do it ethically and legally. This woman is a loser.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

There is a reason they call it extreme couponing! Anything extreme will be done by some people, but it is not possible to maintain long term. I prefer instant rebates to promote certain products.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

i believe that woman was an eception not the rule, i, deliver the local paper and if i see something i like, after 2 days the coupons from sunday papers/saturday wsj, are recycle bin bound, i then hoard up on them i.e. last year i got 100 angel tissue paper coupons then went to my local store where the pack was on sale for $1 i had coupon for $1 off/pack i have over 100 4packs tissue paper in my house for free, i.e. walmart will match all supermarket ads so the supply is endless

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avatar 6 Luke Landes

So you take coupons out of newspapers you did not buy? So… you steal… dumpster diving is going through someone else’s property. The coupons are for the newspaper owners, not the newspaper deliverers.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Um…, recycle bins places and stores give papers away weekly genius…If they are not sold they are trashed! My local stores give me stacks weekly for free…they cut the heading off and TRASH them….so please know what your talking about if you dont you end u looking dumb!

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avatar 8 lynn

I did merchandising for a magazine company. Not returning the magazines to the company was considered stealing.

The papers are not your property unless a specific rule is in place stating you can keep them after a certain amount of time. I do know what I’m talking about – Genius.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

Thank you! I completely agree. I got permission to go through my local town’s recycle bins. Couponers are not thieves. There are a few bad apples. I am a couponer and am able to help feed my family this way. I am in a situation where I can’t work, by no fault of my own. What should I do? Go on foodstamps? Come on! This blogger is an idiot! I agree the woman should have been arrested, but this is not the norm. This guy made it sound like couponers are people with no control. Many many extreme couponers donate what they don’t use to charity. So the idea of using coupons on unneeded items to pay for needed items is a great idea. I give away what I don’t need to someone in need. I never would resort to getting my coupons illegaly. There is too many legal ways to get them than to resort to steeling.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

I also don’t like that the blogger said people could earn more working than couponing. He is basically assuming that couponers are lazy and don’t want to work. So many people are out of work and can’t find jobs. What about the disabled? He needs to get a clue.

avatar 11 lynn

I hate to disagree Flexo, but I was under the impression that when trash was at the curb, it’s no longer someone’s property. Well, that’s what Law and Order tells us! I agree with the rest of your comment.

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avatar 12 Ceecee

This sounds more like a coupon addiction. I like using coupons on occasion, although the store near us with the best bargains, Aldi’s, does not have familiar brands that you might have coupons for. I have had a different experience. I stopped getting the newspaper, stopped thinking I needed all the stuff on sale, and I just buy what I truly do need at Aldi’s. I’m saving about twenty dollars a week.

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avatar 13 qixx

Extreme couponing is not actually done by many people. Even some that appeared on the show don’t do it. I know one blogger that was on an episode that went out of her way to make purchases and in quantities that she normally does not do for the show. She did at least donate a good chuck to a food bank. That brings me to the one group that maybe should extreme coupon – The local food bank. A group such as this would actually be able to put 200 bottles of mustard to use before they expire.

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avatar 14 lynn

If this is the case, why do they all have huge stockpiles of stuff? I’m only asking, this question is presented in a respectful manner.

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avatar 15 Donna Freedman

I agree that this is an “extreme” case. Assuming that the majority of couponers would do something like this is like assuming that all business people cheat on their taxes after you read an article about a company nailed by the IRS.

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avatar 16 Cejay

We have had some people who have leaped the fence and got into the newspaper recycling bins in our city. They knoew they had since they just strew paper out left and right searching for the coupons. We have a little free paper that comes out on Wed and it has a coupon insert. I have ASKED the poeple in my neighborhood if they want their’s and when they said No I asked if I could have them. They were happy to give them to me since it stopped them from having to go outside to pick it up and throw away. I have got some extra coupons that way. But I do not think I Extreme coupon since I do not have a huge stash laying around.

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avatar 17 lynn

Using coupons and setting scenarios to obtain the best price possible is a useful tool for any personal budget. If I didn’t do it, I would consider that I was not using my money well. I have a stock, in the event of a natural disaster, but I do not steal to gain anything. There have been numerous fads in this country. I consider this one of them. Stores, however, don’t like us doing better than they do, so all the info on the show taught them our stratagies. Now they’ve taken away quite a few benefits. This has gotten me upsat. Since I have items, I have backed off couponing and will continue when this hoopla ends.

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