After seeing the pilot episode of "Extreme Couponing" in 2010, Hacker was disgusted. “People on the show were couponing to buy candy bars, ramen noodles, and (soda) pop because they were free,” she says. Meanwhile, she had spent the previous four years carefully using coupons on healthy staples to feed her family. “The economy hit us hard,” she says. Hacker had lost her administrative job and her husband’s contracting business wasn’t exactly thriving. Couponing for necessities was a necessity.
As a result, “ 'Extreme Couponing' infuriated me,” she says.
Hacker joined an e-mail petition against the show and mentioned her more practical couponing techniques to make ends meet. TLC producers, apparently lurking in cyberspace, saw Hacker’s post. That led to a surprise phone call, asking Hacker to be on the very show she was protesting.
After saying “Thanks, but no thanks,” payment was mentioned—$500 per episode, which can buy a lot of groceries, especially if you’re a coupon shark like Hacker is. With three teenage stepchildren to feed and a baby in diapers, Hacker said yes, appearing on three episodes of "Extreme Couponing" in all.
Hacker’s experience getting on reality TV was serendipitous. But her couponing and money-saving techniques are what sold her. They are more direct routes to getting on reality shopping shows these days. If you think you’ve got what it takes, why not apply? TLC’s Extreme Couponing is currently off the air. But the network is casting for other reality shows, such as Extreme Cheapskates.
In two weeks: Tips for slasing those grocery bills.