An Arkansas woman’s penny-pinching ways may cost her.
“Extreme couponer” Jamie VanSicker, whose last name is not made up, failed to pay for more than 180 newspapers she grabbed from various racks, police say.
Newspapers — a daily trove of money-saving coupons and important information — are popular with “extreme couponers,” folks who dedicate a significant portion of their lives to hoarding household goods for reduced prices.
“Her defense was that she didn’t know it was a crime,” says Lt. Kevin Lewis of the Springdale Police Department.
That excuse has yet to work anywhere.
When the newspaper employees didn’t find any extra papers, they assumed all of the papers had been sold, writes a reporter for KSDK Channel 5. Thus, newspaper workers were putting even more papers in the racks.
VanSicker kept taking them — as many as 62 per night. The thefts were caught on surveillance cameras.
Police say she grabbed at least 185 papers worth $231.
VanSicker, charged with misdemeanor theft of property, says she is disappointed the newspaper went public and pressed charges, according to her attorney.
Extreme couponing may save money, but it is giving a “black eye” to legions of legit coupon collectors, said Andrea Woroch, a consumer expert with Kinoli Inc.
Despite the savings, Woroch said ”extreme couponing” isn’t for everyone.
She offered up the following warnings in an email:
- It Requires Serious Stockpiling: If you’ve watched [TLC's "Extreme Couponers"], you know coupon junkies dedicate huge amounts of square footage to storing their over-the-top purchases. Even kids’ bedrooms aren’t off limits when space becomes tight. Some claim they donate a portion of their surplus to food banks, but the majority clearly ends up in their homes. Ultimately, you have to question how many tubes of toothpaste you actually need. Sales happen all the time but, for most of us, space is a premium.
- You Have to Be Selfish: I saw a lady at our local supermarket entirely clean out a shelf of popular cereal. Sure enough, the ubiquitous coupon binder was perched on her shopping-cart handles. This method leaves nothing for casual shoppers who want to take advantage of a sale. Even little kids know the best practice is to share and share alike.
- It Consumes Your Free Time: You can’t just dedicate a few minutes on Sunday to scanning the inserts and expect to save hundreds of dollars. Extreme couponers dedicate many hours each week to finding, clipping and sorting. That isn’t frugality; it’s a serious commitment. Done properly, you can actually spend roughly one hour per week and still make a dent in your grocery bill. The Coupon Sherpa app allows you to search by ZIP code for the supermarket in which you’re shopping, check for desired coupons, then download them to your store loyalty card.
- You Must Make Multiple Stops: You really can’t just shop at one store. You have to match coupons with the right merchants then run around filling shopping carts. If you stick to your favorite retailers, you’ll spend less time under those irritating fluorescent lights.
- You Become a People User: The shoppers featured on “Extreme Couponers” usually involve family and friends in the process. While they may consider this a fun activity, most people find it stressful and overwhelming. If you do find a soul willing to help you, make sure there’s a reward at the end of the process. Buy them lunch or better yet, why not offer them some items from your grocery hunt!
- It Takes Over Your Life: Do you really want to be known as the nutty coupon lady (or man)? When extreme couponing takes over your life, it’s time to sit back and do a reality check.
Translated, that means “Relax and learn to love watching baseball.”