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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Aaron Lo.

My family, just like most other families in the United States, shops at the grocery store for that week’s food and general commodities. A vast majority of them don’t coupon. Many of them don’t want to spend the time to, and others simply are financially safe enough to not need the extra savings. My family, on the other hand, is a family that coupons. Well not really my whole family, mostly my mom, but that’s beside the point. My mother first started clipping and “hunting” coupons a few years ago. This was because we needed to start saving a little extra money on our grocery bill due to the fact that my father lost his job. Since then my father has found another job and my mother has continued her hobby of clipping coupons.

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Every Sunday during the football game or whatever else is on TV, my Mom sits in the living room with her big box of coupons. This box consists of newspaper advertisements, printed coupons, store catalog sale, and other pieces of paper with barcodes and the words “save” or “savings” printed across the front of them. She spends most of the day trimming and clipping these coupons so that they can fit into her little carry case that accompanies her on all her grocery runs. My mother has been keeping this drive alive for so long that she jokes that it is her second job. This has been occurring, without fail, for the last few years and our monthly bills are a testament to that.

Since my mom has started couponing our shopping habits have dramatically changed. Before coupons we bought what we needed, and only what we needed. Now not only does my Mom coupon but she also pays attention to that week’s sales. These two things working and tandem have drastically lowered our food bills. Not simply due to the classic buy one get one sales, or “bogo sales”, but also the buy 10 for this reduced price and get this amount free. I don’t believe there is a witty acronym for that type of sale though. These kinds of sales after are already an incredible find and buy even before the coupon is applied. When a coupon is added into the equation you end up buying much more product for far less money than you would for a smaller amount without the sale and the coupon. This realization has drastically changed the way that my family shops.

My Mom has found that the best way to find the best coupons is through three places. The internet, newspaper advertisements, and from the store advertisement paper itself. Not only does the store advertisement give you a few coupons but it also tells you all of that week’s deals and how long they will last. This gives my mother time to look for the right coupons to pair with the sales and to save even more money on our grocery bill. This, not on purpose, has led to my family purchasing very few items that do not have both a coupon and a sale. The necessities, though, are bought with just a coupon, as these coupons are some of the easier ones to find.

There are many different stores out there that all have their different items and individual brands. In many places there are several different stores to choose from. People in turn pick their favorite of these items and choose to shop there more often than the other candidates. This is the natural way of people but this forces the coupon industry to produce a much wider variety of coupons. When they do this, this requires people to look much harder to find what they are looking for. These things have really caused my family to appreciate the process that is put into this and the time that my mother puts into it. Couponing is a huge part of my family’s financial security and will continue to be for as long as it is deemed necessary.

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