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5 reasons why extreme couponing is wrong

They made it seem so easy on the TLC show Extreme Couponing. What you didn't see were stores bending over backwards to let those shoppers break all the store's couponing policies, just for the opportunity to be featured on the show. 

Extreme anything is ridiculous, and sometimes even dangerous. The word "extreme" is now often used as a hyper-descriptor for anything seen as extra good, extra delicious, extra anything. Extreme Bacon Burgers. Extreme Weight Loss. Extreme Makeovers. Extremes can not possibly be good for you. And neither is Extreme Couponing. The show or the practice.

Everything in moderation, right? That includes using your resources wisely. Resources being both your money and your time. Here are five reasons why extreme couponing is wrong and you'll never see me doing it. Besides the fact that I can't push a full cart of groceries.

I'm a strategic shopper. Big difference. 

Shelf Clearing

Have you arrived at the shelf of the item you need most from the store, only to find them all gone? It's happened to me. Really, how many bottles of salad dressing does one need at a time? All of them? That's greed displacing common sense. 

Products are put on sale at your favorite stores in cycles. If you buy only what you need when it's on sale, and with a coupon, you are a smart and strategic shopper. Figure out what your store's sales cycles are, and buy the amount you need until the next cycle – when you'll be able to do it again.
No need to take everyone else's salad dressing just because you can.

Cashier Hogging
When it takes two hours to go thru a check-out line after shopping for four hours, it's more than a little bit extreme. It's self-centered. Extreme couponers, in their quest to get everything for nothing, do not think twice about anyone else's time as we stand in line behind them. Consideration for others disappears when the extreme couponers is focused on the adrenaline rush of beating the system.

If you're strategic shopping with more than a handful of coupons, choose an off-day or time when your store is empty, like late at night or on a Tuesday morning. The store will appreciate your thoughtfulness and be able to accommodate your long check-out time a lot easier. And, no one in line behind you will be giving you the stink-eye. 

Also, it helps to hand out a few of your binder's coupons to the people in line behind you. It's good coupon karma to share. And strategic shoppers are all about good karma. After all, they're the ones leaving the next guy coupons in the shelves. And shopping for their kid's teacher.

Time Sucking
Weigh it. There's a balance between how you spend your time and what you get out of that spend. Once again, the word "extreme" suggests that someone who coupons at that level has gone beyond the frugal mindset into obsessive-compulsive disorder land.

Spending an hour a week to save $25 on your grocery budget is good. But spending four hours a day, every day, to save $300 is not better. Especially when you're saving those hundreds on products that you will never use – a hallmark of extreme couponers. It's more about the acquisition, the score, and not usually about getting what you need.

Keep from exhausting yourself chasing every single deal, all over town, and be more judicious with your most valuable resource -– your time. Limit yourself to one store's deals and coupons each week. Then, you're being smart, getting what you need, and you still have plenty of leftover for important things like watching Law & Order.

Overzealous Stockpiling
Ever seen the other TLC show Hoarders? That.

I will say however, that Hoarders is an excellent motivator for getting teenagers to clean their rooms.

Law Breaking
Store policies have gotten stricter, perhaps in response to some of these extreme couponing practices. Here in Texas, Kroger stopped doubling and tripling coupons last year, and now that policy has spread to other regions of the United States. Safeway only doubles or triples one of the same coupon, and Walmart doubles or triples nothing. 

Extreme couponers have sometimes been described as people who will go to unscrupulous lengths to cut down their grocery bill. Reports of everything from cutting off expiration dates on coupons to using them on items not covered by the coupon continue to occur. 

Some have even landed in jail for counterfeiting coupons. Millions of dollars worth of coupons. Going to jail for couponing – now that is extreme. 

You can now price match at quite a few stores, including Walmart. This is yet another tool that strategic shoppers use to get the best price in town and cut down on the number of stores they visit weekly.

And with the rise of stores like Aldi and Save-A-Lot, who stock only the most popular items at rock-bottom prices, strategic shoppers can forego coupons altogether and still get what they need for the lowest price possible – often beating a store sale and coupon combination elsewhere.

Extreme Couponers of the world, it's the end of your fifteen minutes of fame. Doing it the wrong way, whatever "it" is, never pays off. It's the era of the strategic shopper – common sense, sharing, and ethics rule.

Lea Ann Stundins is a creative consultant, shopping strategist, and blogger at Mommy's Wish List. You'll find her not only telling people how not to pay for things, but cursing at Photoshop in her glamorous dining room office. Lea Ann is on twitter @mommyswishlist. 

(Source: Savings.com)

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News

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  • Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after masterminding the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday night after nearly a half-century in prison. He was 83.Manson died of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence, his name synonymous to this day with unspeakable violence and depravity.Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, reacted to the death by quoting the late Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Manson behind bars. Bugliosi said: 'Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values.'Today, Manson's victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death,' Hanisee said.A petty criminal who had been in and out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his disciples to butcher some of L.A.'s rich and famous in what prosecutors said was a bid to trigger a race war — an idea he got from a twisted reading of the Beatles song 'Helter Skelter.'The slayings horrified the world and, together with the deadly violence that erupted later in 1969 during a Rolling Stones concert at California's Altamont Speedway, exposed the dangerous, drugged-out underside of the counterculture movement and seemed to mark the death of the era of peace and love.Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Manson maintained during his tumultuous trial in 1970 that he was innocent and that society itself was guilty.'These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up,' he said in a courtroom soliloquy.Linda Deutsch, the longtime courts reporter for The Associated Press who covered the Manson case, said he 'left a legacy of evil and hate and murder.'He was able to take young people who were impressionable and convince them he had the answer to everything and he turned them into killers,' she said. 'It was beyond anything we had ever seen before in this country.'California Corrections Department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said it has yet to be determined what happens to Manson's body. It was also unclear if Manson requested funeral services of any sort.Prison officials previously said Manson had no known next of kin, and state law says that if no relative or legal representative surfaces within 10 days, then it's up to the department to determine whether the body is cremated or buried.The Manson Family, as his followers were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate's home: the actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate's caretaker. Tate's husband, 'Rosemary's Baby' director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home across town.The killers scrawled such phrases as 'Pigs' and a misspelled 'Healter Skelter' in blood at the crime scenes.Manson was arrested three months later. In the annals of American crime, he became the personification of evil, a short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an 'X'' — later turned into a swastika — carved into his forehead.'Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,' author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book 'The White Album.'After a trial that lasted nearly a year, Manson and three followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Another defendant, Charles 'Tex' Watson, was convicted later. All were spared execution and given life sentences after the California Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972.Atkins died behind bars in 2009. Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Watson remain in prison.Another Manson devotee, Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, but her gun jammed. She served 34 years in prison.Manson was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute, and was in reform school by the time he was 8. After serving a 10-year sentence for check forgery in the 1960s, Manson was said to have pleaded with authorities not to release him because he considered prison home.'My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system,' he would later say in a monologue on the witness stand. 'I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.'He was set free in San Francisco during the heyday of the hippie movement in the city's Haight-Ashbury section, and though he was in his mid-30s by then, he began collecting followers — mostly women — who likened him to Jesus Christ. Most were teenagers; many came from good homes but were at odds with their parents.The 'family' eventually established a commune-like base at the Spahn Ranch, a ramshackle former movie location outside Los Angeles, where Manson manipulated his followers with drugs, oversaw orgies and subjected them to bizarre lectures.He had musical ambitions and befriended rock stars, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. He also met Terry Melcher, a music producer who had lived in the same house that Polanski and Tate later rented.By the summer of 1969, Manson had failed to sell his songs, and the rejection was later seen as a trigger for the violence. He complained that Wilson took a Manson song called 'Cease to Exist,' revised it into 'Never Learn Not to Love' and recorded it with the Beach Boys without giving Manson credit.Manson was obsessed with Beatles music, particularly 'Piggies' and 'Helter Skelter,' a hard-rocking song that he interpreted as forecasting the end of the world. 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