Say what you will about the undoubtedly most (in)famous residents of the tiny rural outpost of McIntyre, Ga., but the Thompson-Shannon clan sure know how to stretch a dollar. While it’s hollerin', of course.
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" — TLC’s wildly popular "Toddlers & Tiaras" spinoff featuring snot-dripping pint-sized pageant princess, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her gleefully unbecoming kin — returns for a new season this week.
A polarizing recent entrant into the pop culture zeitgeist, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" has garnered strong reactions, most involving words and phrases such as “important,” “exploitative” and “horrifying.” But "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is also a show about resourcefulness, as dressing your precocious/obnoxious 7-year-old daughter like a redneck JonBenet Ramsey doesn’t always come cheap.
No doubt, the Thompson-Shannon family lives in rural poverty in a tiny house right next to the train tracks. But they’re also industrious, hard-working folks — or at least Alana’s father, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson is — and 32-year-old family matriarch “Mamma June” Shannon, a recent grandmother and a high school dropout with a wicked sense of humor, exhibits a keen business sense. She's also skilled at wrangling up child support checks from each of her four children’s fathers and, of course, cashing in on each episode filmed by TLC.
Below we’ve rounded up a few ways that the Thompson-Shannon clan exhibit thrift and financial smarts to make ends meet — an "HBB" guide to budgeting, if you will. Obviously, these tips aren’t Suze Orman material and should be taken with a giant grain of salt. But perhaps we can all learn something — something that doesn’t involve dieting through flatulence — from America’s rawest and rowdiest television family.
Don’t be embarrassed to take advantage of savings
To trim household expenses and save up for big pageants, Mama June practices extreme couponing (nice tie-in to another “this is a trainwreck but I can’t look away” TLC program), an activity that she calls “better than sex.” Mama June reveals that couponing and other habits allow her to feed a family of six for $80 a week.
Take advantage of local resources: In the words of Mamma June during an episode when the family feasts upon a road-killed deer (the local sheriff notifies her whenever a fresh kill is located): “Why throw away free meat? That’s the way I look at it.” Adds Sugar Bear: “It’s messy but it does help save a lot of money. That way we can afford for Alana to do pageants.”
Shop in bulk: Yes, all the family purchases (on camera at least) are junk food when they attend a local food auction — a grim example of food poverty if we’ve ever seen one — but we’d like to think that something nutritious crosses the threshold of the Thompson-Shannon home when the cameras aren’t rolling. And please, don’t pass the “sketti.”
Make your own fun: Meet the Redneck Slip 'n' Slide, a tarp slathered in vegetable oil and dish soap. Gross, but it seems to work.
Do away with the “extras:” Apparently, Mama June normally pays to have Alana’s makeup professionally applied prior to big pageants. To cut back, she tries doing it herself. The thing is, June has some vision issues and the results leave Alana proclaiming: “My mama better stick to couponing and stay away from the makeup table.”
Tap a hidden talent: When things get tight, Mama June heads to the bingo parlor. “Mom plays bingo better than she cooks or cleans or anything,” remarks 15-year-old daughter Jessica (“Chubbs”).
Have a sense of humor: This is especially true during trips to the “department store,” otherwise known as the Wilkinson County dump.
Encourage young entrepreneurism: To raise funds for an upcoming pageant, Alana sets up a lemonade stand — the Lemonade Honey Boo Boo Stand — using June’s secret recipe. Not surprisingly, it involves an ungodly amount of sugar.
Invest in love: Yes, Honey Boo Boo and Co. are skilled at unleashing the gauche and the gross in front of the cameras, but look a bit deeper, past the horrid eating habits, scat-chat and unsavory Southern stereotypes that the family are so obviously playing into, and you’ll find a whole lot of love, optimism and tenderness — three things you can’t get down at the Piggly Wiggly with a binder filled with coupons.
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