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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Alexis W.

As a college student, watching my money is a crucial part of my shopping experience. When I’m shopping, I not only have to think about what I need to purchase, but also what other expenses I have to pay, such as a college tuition payment coming up, or my car’s registration fees. Coupons most definitely influence my purchasing decisions, because without coupons, I would d have to pay a lot more money for products I need.

While sales are helpful in saving money, they are few and far between for products essential for day-to-day living. Certain items simply don’t go on sale often enough for me to be able to wait to purchase them until prices are lowered. Additionally, sales are store-specific. Coupons are not fixed savings; they are often available for individual products, and through stores themselves. Target, for example, offers clearance items through a weekly ad, but also lets customers use printable coupons selected through their website, an extra five percent discount if a customer uses their RED card, and through their coupon app, “Cartwheel.” Listed on your Target receipt is the total amount you have saved your trip, and if you have a RED card, your total savings that year; my mom has so far saved $166.78 just by using her RED card every Target trip, which is essentially an entire basket of groceries. While I personally find myself only purchasing the items at Target that are specifically listed in their couponing methods, it is worth saving those extra dollars, because as my mom’s RED card savings prove, it adds up quickly.

Many consumers choose not to use coupons, either because it’s time-consuming to select every coupon they want, or because the products they want aren’t offered. According to, about only one percent of shoppers redeem coupons. And, as points out, choosing not to redeem coupons could result in a lower annual income. Hypothetically, redeeming coupons every time a consumer shops could result in a “pay raise” because of all the money spent. Many consumers don’t see the benefits of couponing because the rewards are so little in increments – for example, a five percent discount doesn’t seem like a substantial amount of savings. This is why couponing further affects my decisions on purchasing; all the dollars I do save could go toward books, tuition, or gas. It’s worth spending a little extra time couponing, so that I can save a lot more.

A lot of consumers also complain that coupons aren’t offered for the products they buy. However, many stores offer reward programs and personalized weekly ads. With the advent of computer science, companies are getting increasingly better at analyzing shoppers’ personal preferences, and offering their customers products specifically aimed toward them. Though I do prefer some brands over others, coupons often open my eyes to new brands I have never heard of, and end up enjoying. If one product is even 60 cents cheaper than a product I already know I like, I’m willing to take the risk because not only can I save almost a dollar, but I can also try something new. As I am lactose intolerant, finding lactose-free products can sometimes be difficult, especially ones that are on sale or have a coupon attached. While I prefer Lactaid lactose-free milk, whenever there is a coupon for lactose-free milk, even if it’s a brand besides Lactaid, I will buy the product attached to the coupon because the price significantly lowers. I still get the nutrients I need, and can try a new product to see if I like it better than the brands I’m used to.

A note from us at I’m In: Check out the  list of our featured coupons next time you’re looking to try something new at a great price!

In conclusion, coupons influence my purchasing decisions in every shopping experience. While the savings come in small increments, I am able to spend more toward what I need, and even toward things I want. Even if I prefer certain products over others, coupons are always worth it because I can try new products, and save money.

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