Local family on TLC’s ‘Extreme Couponing’Written by Patrick Timmis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Joni Meyer-Crothers got a call from the TV network TLC asking if her family would do an episode of “Extreme Couponing,” she thought one of her adult daughters was pranking her.
She had seen the show — which highlights couponing shoppers who buy lots of groceries for little money — and thought they seemed like hoarders. She didn’t know that several church families had nominated her family for the show.
“I really believe that it was God who opened the door,” she said. “I know that to some people that will sound crazy.”
Jamie Meyer-Crothers lost his job three years ago, a victim of the recession that nailed so many UAW workers. His family had to find a way to save, so Joni asked a friend who shopped with coupons to teach her to use them. Then, she said, she took it to an extreme.
“This is attached to me like my kids are,” she said of the thick, coupon-filled, zippered binder she wears over her shoulder like a purse. Jamie and Joni spend about five hours every week planning, organizing and shopping with coupons. More than your average couple, but the savings are worth it.
Before Jamie lost his job, the family spent about $1,200 on groceries every month. Now, they spend $200 — but they buy between $3,000 and $5,000 worth.
Recently, Jamie paid less than a dollar for over $150 worth of groceries. Sometimes, coupons rack up so much that stores pay him. He recently left a store with $400 worth of purchases and $12 more in his pocket than when he came in.
“I compare it to the loaves and fishes,” Joni said. “Jesus performed a miracle with the five loaves and two fish, and that’s what he’s doing with our coupons.”
Jesus is the real reason they spend so much time on this, Joni said. The couple quickly covered their own needs, then realized the potential for helping others. They now donate about 80 percent of all their purchases to charity — about $100,000 worth in the past two-and-a-half years — and have a refrigerator, freezer and shelving unit in their garage for community use.
One of the chief recipients of the couple’s donations is Sylvania Area Family Services.
“[Joni’s] just been absolutely phenomenal,” said Jason Robertson, the agency’s executive director. “She and Jamie have been huge advocates for this community and our agency in particular and they have just embraced us.”
The couple sees the show as an opportunity to advance their mission by inspiring others.
“I believe that God tells us that we’re supposed to give back,” Joni said. “It might be something small to you, but giving it to someone, you can change their life tremendously by helping them out.”
The “Extreme Couponing” episode airs Wednesday, June 8 at 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. To find out more about Jamie and Joni’s mission, visit SavingAndSharingForChrist.blogspot.com or look them up on Facebook.