To communicate how coupons influence my purchasing decisions is not a simple task.  In retrospect, the idea of coupon use is a great amenity.  With the example of shows like Extreme Couponing, using coupons creates a concept that, not only, saves you money but, in addition, makes you money.  While “extreme coupon” use is a good thing for some, it is awful for the shoppers and cashiers at the stores who have to deal with these coupon shoppers.  Though, in another sense, it seems that coupons for online purchases are used and accepted universally.

Currently, it is very easy to access coupons for almost anything.  Coupons are distributed to you in the mail, ads online, the newspaper, google searches, your cellphone, email, etc.  The list is infinite; but is this really a good thing?  How many coupons are we really using compared to the amount that an average person receives?  My guess is that a lot of coupons are going to waste.  Personally, I receive a variety of coupons that are useless to me in the mail.  These coupons are usually for a store or restaurant that I will never use, nor do I know anyone who would.  As an environmentalist, I usually recycle these but think of the amount of people receiving these coupons who are throwing them in the trash.  This practice is very wasteful and something needs to be done to cut down these wasted coupons until they are no longer available by mail or print.  As long as this waste persists, printed coupon advertisements will continue to be viewed as a negatively by me.

A note from us at I’m In: We agree with Alycia that coupons should never be a waste.  Set deal alerts with us for your favorite stores so that you’re only getting coupons that you’ll use!

While the ease of obtaining these coupons has a negative connotation with me, the ease of coupon use is very convenient for others.  This opportunity to save money is becoming very popular with many people; however, creating this accessibility of coupons is not always a positive result.  The problem begins when these money saving opportunities becomes an obsession.  There are certain semi-unspoken ethics to couponing that many people ignore.  Countless numbers of coupon users hold up grocery lines every day to not only save money but to earn money.  These people go into stores with big binders full of coupons that they want to abuse.  A couple weeks ago, I witnessed a woman holding up a line at Target for 45 minutes just to save twenty cents on a toothbrush with an expired coupon.  This is ridiculous.

This obsession is a huge problem and a headache for people on the outside of this trend.  The number one complaint I hear from current grocery cashiers is how rude and uncooperative these routine coupon users are.  Grocery stores need to take initiative with this and have a line specifically for these coupon users to not hold up the line for conventional shoppers.  These coupon line clerks should have access to manager codes and special training to speed up the line when there is an error with a specific coupon.

The irritation that these coupon users cause to other shoppers and grocery store employees is not the only problem with this coupon trend.  “Extreme couponing” is creating tons of waste.  When the use of coupons creates a money saving opportunity, products are “bought” without any intention of using them.  The system is abused.  A lot of people do sell or donate these products to those who need them; but looking at the track record of just United States, waste is inevitable.  These products end up in our landfills for no reason.  It makes absolutely no sense that we can “afford” to waste these products when so many other people have nothing and are criticized for using government subsidies.

While these results of couponing highly impact my use of coupons at physical stores and businesses negatively, coupons offered on the internet for online shopping are very appealing to me.  I definitely appreciate online coupons and use them often while making online purchases.   This version of coupon use is very beneficial.  With this type of coupon use, employees and conventional shoppers avoid irritation “extreme coupon” users bring and these online coupons reduce waste while saving online shoppers money.  It seems very unlikely that routine coupon users would abuse this trend of using online coupons, especially when they have to deal with the headache of shipping and the difficulty of manipulating a real employee, as going through the automated system is not entertaining at all.

To conclude, I have very mixed feelings about coupon use, in general.  The perk of saving money is always appealing but the obsession and abuse this brings is hardly worth the extra savings.  Coupons should be used as a convenience to those who want them; while not acting an annoyance to those who do not or the grocery clerks who serve them.  Online coupons save waste and keep coupon use at a minimal to where the shopping system is not being corrupted.  Until the amount of waste and obsession over these coupons seize, I will continue to have mostly negative feelings about coupon use.  This animosity toward coupons will continue to affect my decision to not frequently use these coupons.