Extreme Couponing The UK vs The USA


I have seen some comments regarding what is seen on the Extreme Couponing TV series in America and the current couponing nature in the UK. I have said before that it’s best not to compare what we have to what is shown on the TLC show. This is for a variety of reasons.

1) The shows contestants are not newbies, most have been couponing for a while and so know what they are doing.

2) The contestants are aware that they are going to be on the show. They collect their coupons in advance and they are showing a big shopping trip and probably not anything like a day to day couponing trip.

3) Yes, in the USA they have regular newspaper inserts with coupons that we do not get here in the UK. However we do have coupons in a variety of formats that can be used in the same way, to the same result.

4) There have been reports of stores swaying their acceptance policies for the show. This means that the everyday couponer in the USA wouldn’t actually be able to do such trips.

5) There are also reports of stores now tightening their policies and reducing the ‘doubling’ of coupons so such shopping trips would be hard to replicate again.

6) There are coupon clipping services in the USA that sell clipped newspaper insert coupons. Some of the contestants on the show have actually purchased the coupons they are using and we as a viewer are not actually made aware of the cost of these coupons. It is never factored into the cost of the shopping etc.

7) There has also been a lot of reports of fake coupons being used on the show and coupon misuse occurring. It would not be legally possible to replicate these purchases!

8) The show is primarily to do with sensationalism! It shows the top end of the spectrum of extreme couponing. It probably wouldn’t be as fun to watch if it didn’t! The fact is that they put on a ‘show’ to make more viewers watch! Always keep this in mind when you are watching it as it is so obvious that TLC follow a formula just to make money. In terms of number 8. I have recently started watching Nathan Engels YouTube channel Frugal TV (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=frugal+tv&oq=frugal+tv&gs_l=youtube.12……0.0…1ac..11.youtube.) instead of the TLC show. Nathan was on the show but he has always stated that he cannot replicate his televised shopping trips on a daily basis. He shows that any saving is better than no saving when it comes to couponing.

My main point in this blog post is – STOP COMPARING! Part of the reason that there is disbelief in terms of UK couponing is due to the comparisons that people make to the TV show. However if you are going to compare – be informed about it! Some of the research I’ve been doing today has actually taken me off on a bit of a squiff, but I still think it’s relevant to consider here. The first point is fairly simple.

£1 IS NOT $1!!!!!!!!!!

When you see the prices on the show on the product labels, the coupons and the till. Do you automatically make them into pounds? Well you’d be wrong to. Today’s exchange rate is £1 = $1.60 US dollars. Obviously another way to look at this is that $1 is around the 62/63p mark. Does this change your view a little? It did mine! This means that when a contestant on the show is getting $1000 worth of products, that is actually only £625 worth. Ok, quite a large amount of money but probably only a couple of months groceries for a largish family. It also puts the slant on the 10 for $10 offers we often see on the show. Or the ones that give you money off if you buy 10. In episode 6 of season 2. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkCWRFAPHj4) There is an offer of save 50c per bottle of water when you buy 10. It is a great offer for the contestant as she has coupons for them that actually give her overage. However when you look at the prices, the smallish bottle (around 1/1.5l) is $1.25 (78p) before the offer and 75c (47p) after.

Have a look at Asda’s prices of water and we will see my next point! http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/asda-compare-prices/Mineral_Water/ASDA_Smartprice_Sparkling_Water_2L.html A 2l of Asda’s water is 17p!!!!!!

The USA is often portrayed as cheaper in everything compared to the UK.  A little research however, paints a different view! Yes, petrol is cheaper in the USA, along with public transport costs and housing :- http://www.bbcamerica.com/mind-the-gap/2012/07/24/10-things-that-are-cheaper-in-the-us/ However lets take a look at other prices :-

http://www.bbcamerica.com/mind-the-gap/2012/07/26/10-things-that-are-pricier-in-the-u-s/ http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=724233 http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/f/food_prices/index.html

I think it’s fairly clear to see that most groceries are actually cheaper in the UK than in the USA. Don’t believe me?  I’ve had a look at a couple of items that we may actually be able to find coupons for in the UK and compared them with the costs in the USA. I’ve chosen Asda versus Walmart as they are (as we know) the same company.


This is one of the biggest price differences I found. A box of 12 Red Bull cans. Walmart $18.98 and Asda £8. $18.98 is £11.86! So £3.86 more expensive!!!!



I’m not sure if you remember but Plenty kitchen roll used to be called Bounty in the UK. It still is called this in the USA. At Walmart a 6 pack is $5.47. At Asda it is £3. $5.47 = £3.42 so the USA is 42p more expensive.



The pack sizes on these Pampers Easy up pants do differ by 1 (22 versus 23). Also they are on rollback at Walmart at the moment. However look at what they have been rolled back by – $1! I have seen these pants go down to around £3 over here.Walmart is $7.97 (£4.98) rolled back from $8.97 (£5.60). This means ON OFFER they are only 2p cheaper than a non-offer price!



Ok cereals were really hard to compare! The USA uses oz and in the UK we use g. The closest I could get were these Cheerios. 14oz is 392g, so slightly more than the UK 375g box. However they are $3.18 in Walmart, which is £1.99, compared to £1.50 in Asda. Does the 17g difference account for the extra 49p?!
I know these are only a few examples, however there are some more on the links above.  Some are only pence in difference but that Red Bull amazed me!  Also you need to add those pence together to see the complete picture. The UK is cheaper at the moment for groceries than the USA.



Granted they do. But lets take what we’ve learnt about the £ versus $ ratio.

What are common coupons we see in the USA
25c 50c
Some stores double these coupons sometimes but usually only up to a $1.


What coupons have we got at the moment in the UK

Ok they don’t get doubled but surely you can see the difference!

Rounding them up/down:-
25c = 16p
50c = 31p
75c = 48p
$1 = 63p
25p = 40c
30p = 48c
40p = 64c
50p = 80c
75p = $1.20
£1 = $1.60
£2 = $3.20
£3 = $4.80

I think you can agree that in the UK we get higher value coupons than the USA, combine that with lower priced groceries and the lower number of coupons should start to fade as an issue!

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