When I go to the store, I hardly ever look at the coupons or coupon magazine offered. Instead, I go directly to the sale section or clearance display. I usually have limited time when going grocery shopping, because it is the end of the day and I want to go home and relax after a long day. The last thing I want to do is shuffle through a coupon booklet at a store to figure out what to buy. I always make a list when shopping, and know when an item is on sale. Although I do typically use coupons given out by stores, I do use coupons that come in the mail because I have the time and energy to sift through them. Occasionally, I print coupons from online because I know that they work and have used them before.

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I could easily just toss aside any mail that looks like “junk”. I know what to look for now, and I know what is a legitimate coupon and what is false advertising. I collect my coupons that are from stores of interest. Trader Joe’s, Joanne Fabric, and Papa Murphy’s are all places I can rely on having an active coupon for. These stores have never disappointed me when I have used their coupons. I do shop at Albertsons weekly, but since they do not mail coupons (that I know of), I am not likely to search for a coupon of theirs, unless I accidentally stumble upon one.

At the grocery store, the store that I visit the most, there are magazines, newspapers, and bulletin postings of sales. Out of those three, I am most likely apt to glance at the bulletin while I enter the store. If I see something noteworthy and it is visibly cheaper than normal, I will check it out. If I cannot determine whether or not the item is cheaper, I usually do not do any further research, and move on to other shopping. The picture on the coupon or advertisement has to be enticing. If there is a picture of a product shown, it needs to be as realistic as possible, or a picture of the actual product. I do not like visiting a store based on coupon I found, only to find that the coupon is not for that exact product advertised, has expired, or is for referrals only.

Sometimes I accidentally receive other individuals’ mail at my house. I have been getting this lady’s coupon book and coupons for Joanne Fabric in the mail ever since I moved in a couple years ago. The coupons are not sealed, and anyone can use them. I also get value packs in the mail, generically addressed to whoever inhabits the residence. The Joanne coupons intrigue me greatly. Joanne’s just so happens to be one of my favorite stores, and I collect those coupons, and sometimes get 75% off my overall purchase. One time, I was able to get a purchase from $47.00 down to $13.00. I became addicted to those coupons. Not only did I not have to do anything to get them, but also I could always use them on my next yarn purchase. I love the fact coupons can come in the mail, and I believe more people would use them if they had coupons directly delivered to their homes.  The only downfall to the Joanne coupons is that the expiration date is only a few days after the active date, which gives me a very limited time frame to get over to Joanne’s and get yarn.

Some coupons are worthy of getting online. Papa Murphy’s offers $2.00 off a large pizza if you are willing to take a minute survey. The survey is basic, and does not require any exchange of personal information. It is strictly a customer satisfaction survey and asks solely about the customer’s experience at Papa Murphy’s. I definitely recommend this coupon and taking the minute long survey to obtain the coupon. I find that when I get immediate price reduction, I am most likely to engage in using a coupon for my purchases.

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Trader Joe’s has a booklet that comes out of new products and price reductions. I always look through this book. It has a unique presentation that actually looks like a mini newspaper magazine. I enjoy looking at the new products, what is on sale, and what is limited edition or seasonal. I find these magazines very helpful and wish every store sent one in the mail.

I love the store Staples, and notice that I have searched for coupons from them online, as well as in the store. I believe that I am biased because I do not go to a store because of a coupon I find, I go to a store and find the coupons, and use them at that store if it pertains to my purchases. Staples as well as Trader Joe’s have policies where if someone sees an item on clearance but it is actually full price, those stores will give someone what is seen in the coupon or the listed price on the clearance rack. I am very fortunate for this policy because I have had items listed as clearance, but have been misplaced and actually full price.  Even expired coupons sometimes have value. If the customer does not know the coupon has expired because there is no expiration date, then the store becomes liable for doing something about it, whether it be reducing the item to a lower price, or using the coupon anyway.

I think coupons are a great way to make shopping more affordable. I have friends and people I know who use coupons for everything. I, however, cannot seem to justify the amount of time it takes to go through a bunch of coupons just to see the few that might be used. I also believe that coupons sometimes persuade the customer to buy things that normally would not be of interest. For example, if someone sees a deal on ham in a coupon, that person might now intend to buy the ham, but will because of the coupon. Thus, money is still spent. I do like coupons coming in the mail because I can look at them in a spare moment and file through them. Coupons are beneficial, if you know what to look for.