J’aime Kirlew takes five hours to prepare for a trip to the grocery store, carrying with her a box of coupons and a list that shows every item the store sells and where it is located. She puts on her “game face,” applying makeup before heading to the checkout stand, and dances a jig when a nearly $2,000 shopping bill is reduced to $103.72.
“My image is very important to me,” says the paralegal from Bethesda, Md., on the hotly anticipated series “Extreme Couponing,” debuting on TLC on Wednesday. The show follows shoppers whose intense devotion to finding bargains can whittle a $555.44 grocery store bill down to $5.97.
Kirlew dove into coupon-cutting when her husband lost his job more than a year ago. Need a paper towel? A shower stall in her home is stuffed with 450 rolls of toilet paper and 250 rolls of paper towels. Her compulsiveness is also obvious in the supermarket aisles, when cameras catch her buying 62 bottles of mustard, even as her husband gently reminds her, “I don’t eat mustard.”
She leaves one plastic bottle on the shelf.