Stockpiling is a Waste of Money and a Sign of Greed?

Why Stockpiling is Not a Waste of  Money or Being Greedy

I saw this comment on one of my friends Google+ posts the other day (make sure to add me to your Google circles!):

Stock piling is just a waste of money and a sign of greed. best way to live simply is to buy when needed and not before

I have to say, I can’t disagree with this statement more, but I can see why someone unfamiliar with responsible couponing would think that.  The media is full of “Extreme Couponing” images of people with stockpiles of 500 bottles of laundry detergent, overflowing shelves of toothpaste, etc. But that isn’t really “stockpiling” – that is hoarding!

Saying that stockpiling is just a waste of money is just ridiculous. And saying “best way to live simply is to buy when needed and not before” is simply financially irresponsible!

What is stockpiling?

Stockpiling is stocking up on those items that you will need and use when they are at their lowest possible price. This could be with or without coupons.

Responsible stockpiling is only buying enough of those items to get you through until the next time you will be able to get it at the lowest possible price. Groceries, personal care items and household items typically have “sales cycles” of 6-12 weeks….meaning that they will be at their lowest price every 6-12 weeks. In addition, certain products are cheaper certain months of the year due to national promotions such as “Frozen Food Month”, January sales on diet foods, etc.

For instance, before I started doing the bulk of my shopping at Wegmans (where boneless skinless chicken breasts are ALWAYS $1.99/lb) and Aldi, I would buy up to 20 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts whenever they were on sale at $1.99/lb at my local grocery store. I would bring them home and separate the chicken in to 1 – 1.5 lb portions, place each in a freezer bag and throw them in the freezer. This would give me 12-14 meals where I only paid $1.99/lb for the main protein in our meals.

Let’s say that I agreed with this woman and thought that I should buy what I need when I need it?

That means one week, I spend $1.99/lb for chicken for our meals for the week. For the next 10 weeks, I would be at the mercy of the grocery store prices, paying anywhere from $1.99/lb to $5.79/lb (the “regular price” for chicken breasts at many of the local stores).  I would only be really saving money on meat a few weeks a year.  Shopping that way may keep my freezer less full, but my wallet will certainly be less full as well!

The same goes for cereal, pastas, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.  I can “live simply” and only buy what I need when I need it, or I can use coupons at the grocery and drug stores and always keep a 6-week supply of the things that we use and save a ton of money!

The ONLY way that I can see this woman’s point is if I were stockpiling things that my family does NOT want or need…simply because it gives me a thrill to get great deals.  Fortunately, that is not how I shop/stockpile and certainly not what I teach on this site.

So what do you think?  Do you agree that stockpiling is sign of greed or a waste of money?

TLC Extreme Couponing | My Comment To Angelique About Her Counterfeit Coupons

I am writing this post a few minutes after I posted it on Angelique’s post explaining her Extreme Couponing Haul. For obvious reasons, she has comments on moderation. If she approves my comment, I will be thrilled. If she doesn’t, I understand. Either way – I hope that she takes my comment to heart. And if any of my readers have any thoughts about being on THAT show, I hope that you will read this and reconsider. TLC doesn’t give a rats retina about the people they show on Extreme Couponing. They care about ratings!

So without further ado (and that was already too much ado), here is my comment on Angelique’s post:

Angelique….

Having had 3 kids myself, I can certainly understand “pregnancy brain” and I am CHOOSING to believe that you didn’t knowingly purchase counterfeit coupons. Coupon ethics is something that I am completely passionate about and from watching your episode, this seems to be the only issue.

My concern is not with you, but with TLC. They KNOW that this sort of stuff is going on. The Quilted Northern coupon was pointed out as fraudulent last season by many blogs and I know that the CIC contacted TLC about it. A “lightbulb” should have gone off in the producers’ heads when you were doing pre-tape prep…”Hey – she has a bunch of free QN coupons…weren’t there problems with these last season? Let’s check it out before we film and air it!”.

Instead, TLC takes the position of “we just film it..it is up to participants to make sure they are doing things right”. Basically – they throw you under the bus, let the bus back over you, then put it back in to forward.

The problem is, if you watch EC, you notice a pattern…people say “I’ve been doing this for 6, 9 ,12 , 18 months”. If they don’t run a blog (and many EC people didn’t until AFTER the tape stopped rolling), they don’t know about the rampant coupon fraud out there and how they were an unwilling participant ON CAMERA. But the people at TLC DO know that they have been filming coupon fraud since Episode 1, Season 1 (yes – I am talking about you Ms. Kirlew…it’s just a shame that my good friend Tiffany and her husband Paul are forever tied to that scammer by that episode)

TLC doesn’t care. I hope you will speak out about the pressure to have outrageous transaction “no matter what” (after your confidentiality clause has expired, of course)

Not sure if you are moderating comments or not…but if you are, I don’t really care if you make this comment public, but I hope you take my comment to heart!

Ok – so I really didn’t (and don’t) care if she approves my comment on her personal blog (which I am sure TLC is reading and she now needs to “cover her butt” and NOT talk about the pressure to do “her biggest shopping trip EVER”), but I DO hope that she (and every other person thinking about applying to be on Extreme Couponing) will take this to heart…..

Producers looking to do a segment on Extreme Couponing don’t care about you. They don’t care about how you will be portrayed. They are interested in ratings.  So if you are thinking about applying for a season of Extreme Couponing, or responding to a casting call for a show that wants photos of your stockpile (to make sure that they are “massive enough”) before they will talk to you? Think again! They will throw you under the bus and move on to the next couponer looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

And it’s a shame…TLC had an opportunity to really TEACH people (you know – the whole “Learning” part of “The Learning Channel”?). Instead, they chose to promote fraud!

It’s time to bring back SANE couponing!

as an afternote: I have been lucky to work with some WONDERFUL newspeople and producers in the Philadelphia area (I big puffy heart Amy Buckman…she is a couponer herself. Ukee Washington is a complete sweetie who is just happy to pay less than $7 for a Gillette Fusion…SO cute..when he could be getting them FREE!)

NOTE: since I started typing this post, I received an email from Angelique. As many of you know, I am prone to believe the worst in people (not an attractive trait, I know…I try to overcome it occasionally…usually at Christmas or when Brad brings home flowers), but in this case, I believe her. I won’t betray the confidence of our email, but I will say that I believe that she is just another victim of TLC and Extreme Couponing!

TLC Extreme Couponing | More Counterfeit Coupons in The Season Premiere Last Night

If you heard several loud “AARRGGH!”s last night between 10:00pm and 11:00pm last night, that was me watching the season premiere of TLC’s Extreme Couponing.

It seems that we are in for another season where TLC, the producers of Extreme Couponing as well as the couponers eager for their 15 minutes of fame don’t care about ethical couponing, coupon basics or if they are messing it up for the rest of us.

So what counterfeit coupons were used?

Jill Cataldo has already provided some screen shots of the fraudulent coupons and I am sure that we will be seeing more in the next few days.

It is unknown if Cole or Angelique knew that they were using counterfeits, but Angelique has said that she had to buy some coupons from a clipping service for her appearance on the show. Were some of the ones she bought the Free Quilted Northern coupons? Did she buy them from a reputable clipping service or on eBay? A quick search on eBay shows that there are many coupons on the counterfeit coupon list available for purchase on eBay (including the counterfeit Quilted Northern coupon)!

Interesting to note that, unlike in previous seasons, there seemed to be less “screen time” for the coupons themselves. TLC obviously has no interest in portraying ethical couponing, but I guess they have decided to make it more difficult for bloggers to prove that they are televising and promoting fraud.

Did you watch the Season 3 Premiere of Extreme Couponing? What did you think?

Counterfeit Huggies Coupon (and more about counterfeit coupons)

Every so often, there is a surge in counterfeit coupon creation, and it seems that we are deep in the middle of one.

In the last 2 hours, I have heard about the above Huggies coupon (which is making the rounds of the Internets in .pdf form) AND had one of my Facebook friends post the following on my personal FB page:

I have a quick question for you. Do you know anything about Pedigree giving away coupons for a free 40 lb bag of dog food? Can’t find anything on the ‘net and someone is at my husband’s store trying to get ten free bags. Seems fraudulent to me :-(

So let’s go over this again:

In most cases, any coupon emailed to you in .pdf form (where you need Acrobat Reader or a similar program in order to read it) is either counterfeit or a scanned copy of a “real coupon”. Both are illegal to use in your store and if caught, can get you arrested. Don’t believe me? I can point you to plenty of news stories of people being arrested and charged (and convicted) of fraud for doing exactly that.

There are some legitimate .pdf coupons out there. They are few and far between and tend to be a nightmare. They are often created by companies that want to issue coupons, but don’t want to pay the fee to a site like Coupons.com to control the number of times the coupon can be printed. Then people print off 100 of them, they start to be redeemed WAY more than the company ever intended and then the company declares the coupon that THEY created to be fraudulent (when the reality is that the company was stupid in the way that they issued the coupon in the first place)

Coupons that are “too good to be true” generally are. In the case of my friend, her husband had a customer trying to redeem a coupon (actually 10 coupons) for an approximately $40 item. While companies do release legitimate free-item coupons (I get a ton of them), a dog food company is not going to start giving free $40 bags when they have smaller bags. She said that the coupon LOOKED legit….it was color and glossy on one side, the weight of the paper was correct, etc, but coupon counterfeiters are now able to find and use the same paper and technology to create these coupons. Once again, we need to use some common sense here and know that they just AREN’T going to give out this high-value coupon.

For more information, check out the various posts I have written about Coupon Ethics, especially my Why Stores Don’t Trust Coupon Users post.

And check out this list of all the current counterfeit coupons circulating.  Your head will explode just from the sheer volume of them!

Looking for more Extreme Couponing tips? Make sure that you check out all the posts in my Coupon 101 and Coupon Ethics sections!

Eating Groceries While Still In The Store?

Make sure you check out the rest of the Coupon and Shopping Ethics posts that I have posted!

This could be a sticky question and I have a feeling that some of your answers are going to be based on where you live (urban or rural), how well you know the employees in your store, etc.  But I thought it might be an interesting conversation….

Yesterday, Merissa shared a link with me about a couple arrested for forgetting to pay for sandwiches and asked what I thought about it.  The “nutshell version”?

  • A couple and their 3-year old daughter were grocery shopping.  The pregnant wife started to feel light-headed so they grabbed some sandwiches from the self-serve deli.   They ate the sandwiches while shopping, placed the wrappers in their cart (saying that they made no effort to conceal them) and continued shopping.
  • They paid for their groceries, but for one reason or another, the wrappers didn’t make it on the the belt at checkout and they didn’t pay for them.
  • They were confronted outside the store by 2 men who asked them to show their receipt that they paid for the sandwiches.
  • The couple apologized, said it was an oversight and offered to pay for the 2 sandwiches ($5).  Instead, the manager called the police, they were both arrested.  Since both parents were arrested, their daughter was placed with CPS overnight.

Ok – I have a few things to say about this, and then I would love to hear your thoughts!

The fact that they ate a prepackaged item (as opposed to something like produce, where the final price is determined by weight at the cash register) doesn’t bother me AT ALL. We have done this in the past (I have been known to grab a single serve soda halfway through my shopping trip, finish it while shopping and hand the empty bottle to the cashier to scan).  In most jurisdictions, it is not the eating of the item while in the store that is stealing, but leaving the store without paying for it.

That being said…..

If, as they said, they made no effort to conceal the wrappers, I am having a hard time believing that they DIDN’T see the wrappers in the cart once all of their groceries were loaded on the to cart. I’ve been shopping with a 2-year old while pregnant (as well as a 5 and 3-year old while pregnant) and at no time was I struck suddenly blind that I wouldn’t see wrappers in a cart that had been emptied of groceries. But maybe that is me.

and THAT being said….

Calling the police on the couple over $5 in sandwiches seems like overkill. And having both parents arrested over $5 in chicken salad sandwiches so that their child is taken by CPS and will now have a “CPS file” until she is 18 seems like Overkill-On-a-Freddy-Kreuger-level.

Like I said – I have done this.  We have shopped at stores that sold pizza by the slice and Brad grabbed a slice, ate it while we were shopping, and handed the empty pizza box to the cashier.  I have done the same with soda bottles.  When the kids were younger and had more in-store meltdowns, I opened many many bags of Goldfish.  Not ONCE did I forget to pay for them.

What do you think?  Have you eaten prepackaged items (not items where you pay by weight) at the grocery store before paying for them?  Why or Why Not?

And what do you think about the manager’s reaction to this couple?

Coupon Counterfeiter Faces Up To 30 Years In Jail!

I have to admit that I am taking a little extra joy in this one.

You see, in March of 2010, I came across one of his high-value counterfeit coupons, posted about it and within a few hours, both this site and my family (both online and in real life) came under an attack.  The people on the 4chan site put me through Hell for about 36 hours.  To see the one who created those coupons finally being brought to justice (and facing up to 30 years in jail!) after what he and his friends put me through makes me SO happy!

Lucas Henderson, a 22-year-old Rochester Institute of Technology student, is facing a pair of federal felony charges–wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods–for allegedly posting counterfeit coupons on zoklet.net.

Henderson, pictured at right, is also accused of directing users of that message board to 4chan, where they could download a copy of “How to Make Coupons,” a 45-page tutorial on designing coupons that would “scan at most any store in the U.S.,” thus tricking retailers.

The manual opens with a page listing “The 6 Commandments of Coupon Making,” including the admonition that the tutorial not be uploaded “to any permanent hosting.” Instead, the document should be shared on “anonymous image boards” (like 4chan) where “posts expire after a period of time.” Placing the tutorial at a permanent online location “makes it much easier for companies and moral assholes to come across them and warn stores about them.”

You can read more about this issue at the Coupon Information Center as well as The Smoking Gun!

You can also read more about my personal experience with these people HERE

Coupon Barcode Decoding: Yes or No? (and why?)

barcode

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post about Coupon Barcode Decoding. As many of you know, I tend to get rather passionate about Coupon Ethics and everything in me tells me that decoding barcodes (in order to use a higher value coupon for 1 product on a lower-priced item not listed in the coupon description) is just WrongWrongWrong.

Just as a refresher, from my original post:

BarCode Decoding is:

Using a coupon good on (for example)  ”Brand X Shampoo” on “Brand X Styler” just because the bar code matches up, unless the text of the coupon states that it may be used for a styler.

Using a coupon for a completely unrelated item, just because the manufacturers code on the barcode matches.

Taking advantage of a glitch in the value code section of the bar code to buy less of a product in order to get the same discount.

Using a coupon in any way other than the wording of the coupon

BarCode Decoding is not:

checking a bar code to ensure that it is a store coupon and not a manufacturers coupon (which means that, if it is a store coupon, it can be stacked with a manufacturers coupon at many stores)

matching up a bar code to ensure that a coupon will work on an item that is not pictured on the coupon, but that you are reasonably sure is included in the description (and example of this might be using a Johnson’s bath & body item coupon that has pictures of baby wash on it on a Johnson’s Buddies item.)

using the fact that the manufacturer ID “matches up” (as long as the wording does as well) to explain to a cashier why the coupon is valid on that item, even though it might have beeped when scanned.

Since I originally wrote that post, I pretty much considered this a non-issue.  However, with the recent dust-up over J’Aime Kirlew decoding coupons on Extreme Couponing, the topic has yet again resurfaced.  And because I am the Master of Procrastination and always enjoy watching an online Train Wreck, I have found myself being sucked in to the TLC Extreme Couponing Facebook Fan Page and the comments (the default view on their Facebook page won’t show you Fan Comments…click on “Most Recent’ to see comments)

And I am shocked by the number of people on Facebook and online forums that are defending Coupon Barcode Decoding…and I am wondering if I am being too much of a Goody-Two-Shoes on this issue.  Not that I WOULD decode coupons to take advantage of a glitch in the system, but it seems like I am starting to be in the minority on this issue.

So what do you say?  Do you feel that Barcode Decoding is acceptable? In the 2 years since I wrote that post, the economy has taken more of a downward spiral.  Does the current economy make it more acceptable?  What do you think?

** please note:  I am inviting healthy and respectful discussion.  You are free to call me the biggest prude known to man (or of course, the most awesome of awesomeness ;-) ).  I have no intention of deleting any comments that disagree with me or any other readers, unless they are outright rude or employ namecalling**

Will TLC’s Extreme Couponing Mess It Up For The Rest of Us?

::UPDATE:  The link to the article about Jamie’s shopping trip is glitching.  Her site is getting SLAMMED with traffic as a result of her research.  Keep trying – you don’t want to miss this article!

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of you don’t spend all day, every day thinking about coupons, writing about coupons, talking to your fellow Deal Bloggers in social media outlets, etc.  I am therefore going to assume that many of you haven’t heard about the “scandal” that has come out of the Season Premiere of “Extreme Couponing”.

If you have read my Coupon Ethics posts, you know that I often talk about a time when people were using Crest Whitestrips coupons (which are usually high-value) on other products to get them free.  This is called Coupon Barcode Decoding and is considered Coupon Fraud.

When the names of the people who would be on Extreme Couponing was announced, there was a “ripple” in the Couponing Community as J’aime (AKA “the mustard lady” from the show) was known to have posted videos of herself clearly committing coupon fraud.  She had since taken those videos down and many of us were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt….perhaps she made the videos when she was still a newbie, didn’t know that what she was doing was wrong, had changed her ways, etc.

And then she went on Extreme Couponing and from all appearances, she is still using coupons unethically…to the point of committing outright coupon fraud on national TV. Please take a moment to read this report that Jill Cataldo put together about Jaime’s shopping trip, as well as the comments for a BUNCH of screen shots that clearly expose the truth about her shopping trip.

So why should we care?

Because Coupon Fraud hurts all of us in the form of tighter store policies, more scrutiny and suspicion from cashiers, etc.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if TLC has a response to this.

TLC Extreme Couponing: It’s FAR From a Reality Show!

I have been stewing about this for a few hours (and doing a bit of ranting on Twitter), and it all comes down to one thing….

The TLC Extreme Couponing show (which premiered as a SERIES) is not reality.

Let’s look at the facts:

Tiffany from the show tonight (who is a total sweetheart and someone I have known for more than 16 months) can no longer do the deals that were shown tonight.  Why?  Because Kroger seems to be doing away with double and triple coupons!

Spending 5 hours at the checkout counter? Unless there was a major national film crew rolling, I can’t imagine ANY store manager that would tolerate that.  Brad is a retail manager and he gets “twitchy” when a transaction takes more than 10 minutes!

Aside from My Beloved Acme, I know of very few stores that don’t limit the number of coupons that they will double, or the amount of like-coupons they will accept.  Most stores will only double  the first like-coupon, and then accept another 3-5 at face value.  The stores shown in the Extreme Couponing show clearly lifted their policies for the film crew. (and then they wonder why their customers in the following weeks get upset that they can’t duplicate the deals that they say on TV)

Unless you have a SERIOUS “mustard fetish”, there is no reason to buy 60 mustard bottles at once.  Further, she paid about $0.30 each (AFTER doubled coupon) for them and I have NEVER paid for mustard.  The small bottles go on sale for about $0.80- $1 and a doubled $0.50 coupon makes them FREE.  Y0u can count on these coupons and sales all summer long.  With planning, you can build up a reasonable stockpile without being a shelf-clearer.

Most sales are on a 12-week cycle, as are coupons.  Sure, there are the few odd high-value coupons (like when a product is first released), but I assure you…Chex Mix WILL be on sale for $1 per bag and there WILL be $0.50/2 coupons available.  Unless you are hopelessly addicted to Chocolate Turtle Chex Mix (and really – who isn’t?), you DON’T need to buy 30 bags one week.

What do I advocate? SANE Couponing and Using Coupons Ethically!

There is still no reason to pay for your basic toiletries when you work the Drug Store Deals or even the Grocery Deals

You don’t NEED to buy 60 bottles of mustard.  Most sales and coupons are on a 12 week cycle.  I advocate having no more than a 6 month supply at any given time.

Couponing should be a way of life.  It should never become your life.

I will likely continue to watch Extreme Couponing…it is almost like watching a train wreck!  But I will NEVER advocate the shopping that you see in that show!

What are your thoughts on the show?

Extreme Couponing on TLC

If you missed it last night, Extreme Couponing will again air on TLC on Tuesday January 4, 2011 at 10:00pm (EST) and 1:00am EST on Wednesday January 5, 2011.

Did you happen to watch Extreme Couponing on TLC last night? I did and I have mixed thoughts on it.

On one hand, I am concerned that showing the “extreme” side of using coupons at the stores might create a backlash against those who use coupons in moderation.  I am also worried that they made it look like you HAVE to spend that much time (one woman said that she spent 70 hours per week clipping and planning her shopping trips??) in order to save big.  That can be discouraging to those looking to get started saving money.

On the other hand, I like that they showed that Nathan donated so much to charity.  I have always loved the fact that using coupons allows me to increase my charitable donations.

We had a lively discussion last night on the Moms Need To Know Facebook page about the episode, but I would love to hear your thoughts on “Extreme Couponing”. (both the show and in general)

(Oh – and if you need a refresher, don’t forget to check out my Coupon 101 posts as well as my Coupon Ethics posts)

Doritos Coupon: Please don’t try it!

I have received about 10 emails notifying me of this coupon and…oh For The Love of All That is Good And Holy…please NO

It would be vanity to assume that I am the only “deal blogger” that you read, so in case you have seen this on another website or coupon forum….

Please do NOT try to use the current Doritos coupon (pictured above) that is circulating around the Internets.  It is a fraudulent coupon.

For more information on current fraudulent coupons making the rounds of The Internets, click here

And to find out why fraudulent coupons make me want to stab someone (seriously – I get so angry that I visibly shake!), check out my Coupon Ethics posts.

Photo credit:  Fabulessly Frugal

Why I Love Acme: Coupon Fraud Edition

Most of you know my deep love of Acme.  Between the wonderful coupon policy, the fantabulous sales and the fact that my local store is filled with the nicest employees, I rarely shop anywhere else!

Diane found me on Facebook a few minutes ago and sent me this link to a story in the Pottstown Mercury today.

Not only am I thrilled that a coupon counterfeiter was brought to justice, but I am ecstatic that it was the employees at my local Acme that helped to do it!

I can not WAIT to go in to my Acme to get my early edition of the next circular (they always have it waiting for me) and give the employees a big THANKS!

Way to go Acme….my love for you just increased…and I didn’t think that was possible!