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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Akilah B.

One day on my way home from school, my friend’s mom pulled over and told her to run and get the sales paper hanging outside the gate of someone’s home. The first thing I thought was, is she crazy? The light is about to change, and secondly what is so important in the package that she needs it so bad? It wasn’t until I spent nights at their house that I realized her mom collected sales papers in crates and even had a coupon purse to carry around for every store. Obsessed, seemed like the perfect word for her. One thing I did notice is that every time she came back from grocery shopping she had a lot of bags just by using coupons.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on groceries at I’m In!

I decided to try this coupon cutting behavior to see how far I can get and how much I can actually buy. I cut coupons for Pathmark, BJs, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, household supplies, cleaning materials and anything that we needed in our home. The smallest coupon saving me 50 cents to the biggest coupon saving two or three dollars at times paid off. I started to realize that using coupons helped in a major way whether it was a big or small amount, you were still able to keep some of your money. In the back of my head I still felt a little unsure that maybe I would be judged or looked at like a cheap person who does not want to pay the full price.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on food and restaurants at I’m In!

Things took a drastic turn and after going through a hard period in life with my family, we fell on hard times and struggled financially. At times we heard my dad say “Guys I don’t know how I am getting food in the house this week” or “Guys we may have to give away the pets because I’m low on funds and I don’t know if I will be able to buy food for them”. I would just tell him have faith and believe something will work out. I started to cut more coupons, go through every sales paper and see what little I can get, if my neighbors did not use their sales papers we were allowed to have them and I would go online to see what I can clip and print. We were even lucky at times to come outside to two sales paper bags on our porch. This brought groceries in to our home, allowed us to save our pets and still provide for everyone.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you identify weekend sales at I’m In!

Do coupons influence my purchasing decisions? Yes they do and I vow to always use coupons. People may say only cheap people use them, or only low income families need it, or I don’t have to use those because we have money. I said those same things at times but coupons saved me money, brought groceries and household materials in and allowed me to see life from a different angle. I started to only look for sales, especially if I could get something for less or with a coupon why not, when I can get more for my money.

The biggest impact it had for me was shopping for clothes. As a female it was hard for me to shop for clothes due to our hard times and find clothes that suit me for reasonable prices without spending so much money and coming out with one bag. It was very hard and at times I would go so long with the same boring wardrobe just wishing there was another way around this.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on womens clothing at I’m In!

After watching an episode on Queen Latifah one morning, she spoke about spending and saving for the future, and how a simple app called RetailMeNotCoupons saved many people money. I decided to download it and every time I go shopping for clothes, sneakers, groceries, or a simple night out for dinner with my friends, I pulled out my phone get my coupon ready and I am set and saved for the day. I stopped looking at how people would view me on how I shopped and started looking at how much money I would have saved up now and for the future. I started getting more for my money and kept more money in my pocket.

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