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Clipped

More than four years after “Extreme Couponing” featured its first shelf-clearers, boundary-pushers and – at times – outright coupon fraudsters, it’s finally time for something of a rebuttal. How did those made-for-TV exploits affect the lives of everyday couponers? Some budding filmmakers hope to bring the answer, to a theater near you.

“Clipped” is the title of a documentary that’s currently in pre-production at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. A group of six film students plans to profile several coupon users, and take a realistic look at couponing in the post-“Extreme Couponing” era.

“These stories will shed light on the true nature of couponing, rather than the glorified, exaggerated stories seen on TV,” producer Kayla McQuade told Coupons in the News. “No one has thought to look at how these oftentimes-exaggerated behaviors can affect the people who truly need coupons.”

Longtime couponers know all too well, how the actions of some of the most extreme couponers have affected us all. Stricter limits on the number of coupons that can be used, the types of coupons that will be accepted, and deals that simply aren’t as good as they used to be. McQuade is a couponer herself, and insists she has nothing against extreme couponers. But she draws the line on those who push the limits. “Unfortunately, these strict policies will only get worse if extreme consumers continue to take advantage of the system,” McQuade said.

Rather than focusing on couponers who buy shelves full of free condiments just because they can, “Clipped” aims to focus on shoppers you don’t see on TV – everyday coupon clippers who are just trying to make ends meet.

One subject, a married mother of two from Philadelphia, began using coupons just last year. That means she missed out on those halcyon pre-“Extreme Couponing” days, when coupon policies were looser, coupon-scanning cashiers were friendlier, and saving was simply easier. “While she has been able to save her family a significant amount of money through couponing, she’s discovered that it’s not as easy as it is often portrayed,” McQuade said.

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You mean everything they show on reality TV isn’t, well, real?

Before “Extreme Couponing” debuted back in 2010, there were some early indications that it would be presented as a documentary, featuring savings experts imparting their wisdom upon viewers. By the time it aired, though, the series had morphed into an over-the-top reality show, featuring increasingly outrageous couponing exploits, with many participants using questionable methods to buy hundreds and even more than a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff they didn’t even need.

So “Clipped” aims to reflect reality, by being the documentary that “Extreme Couponing” was not. The film “will portray the people who really need coupons to support their families,” McQuade said, “not those who add more rolls of toilet paper to their stockpiles.”

But is there an audience for that? Can the educational value of proper couponing compare to the entertainment value of watching shoppers get cartloads of groceries for next to nothing?

The “Clipped” crew hopes so. “We truly believe in our story and hope that it will inspire consumers to review their coupon habits and encourage stores to reconsider their policies,” McQuade said. “We hope to show our audience how coupons can be a vital source of savings, so long as they are used properly.”

The crew even launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their project. They’ve now surpassed their $5,000 goal, but are still accepting donations. Those who contribute can earn everything from a “thank you” in the film’s credits, to “Clipped” swag and an invite to the official screening. “Our ultimate goal is to enter ‘Clipped’ into various film festivals across the nation,” McQuade said.

Retailers and coupon issuers certainly paid attention to “Extreme Couponing”, as evidenced by their subsequent policy changes. If you want them to see how their changes are affecting those who count on coupons to feed their families – better hope they go see “Clipped” too.

2 Comments

  1. I am a major couponer and I started it to save my family money. It has helped in many ways and now that’s my ‘job’ since health issues interfere with me having a regular job….I have a stockpile to make sure my family always has plenty of what we need (cheaper to buy extra laundry detergent at $1 now, than $6 when you run out next week!). I have also given away a lot to family/friends to help them out and then we have also made MANY donations to local charities. I have also held yard sales and sold a lot of my extras or items I had lots of but ended up not liking which has helped us to pay our rent/utilities/etc during tough times. It takes a LOT of time but is VERY worth it for our family.

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