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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Amanda M.

A lot of people find coupons to be valuable ways to save money on various products. However, I do not personally use them much in general. This is because I find seeking them out to be a big waste of time, and my time is worth more to me than the pennies that coupons would save me. The only exception is coupons that are included on products or attached to their shelves, or those provided in electronic format.

When I was younger, I used to spend a great deal of time and effort perusing the circulars that would arrive in my mailbox and clipping the coupons I found inside. However, it turned out that I was only saving small amounts of money and felt like I was wasting time, a commodity that was more valuable to me. Ever since then, I have typically ignored store circulars and foregone coupons.

On rare occasions, I will encounter a coupon code online that will be for a product I need, so I will use it, but copying and pasting it does not require any additional time. Amazon products sometimes include coupons as well, in which case you need only hit the link that says “clip this coupon” and it is automatically applied. The same applies to physical stores. Sometimes a product will have a coupon on its packaging, and sometimes coupons are mounted on the store shelves near the products that they are for. In these cases, I will use them as it does not require any additional time to obtain them.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save with best discount offers right on your phone by downloading our free Mobile Coupon App!

If someone were to ask me for my advice regarding the use of coupons, I would ask them quite simply which is the greater commodity for them personally, time or money. If the answer is time, then I would recommend my own approach to coupon usage. However, if the greater commodity is money and they have the time and the patience to search for worthwhile coupons, then perhaps for them it is a good idea.

That said, almost everyone that I know would say that time is the bigger commodity. Even those who, like me, are on limited income, would choose to take the few seconds to compare prices side by side and save their pennies by purchasing a different brand rather than bothering with coupons. I believe however, that with the advent of the internet and smartphones, electronic coupons may prove useful. You can simply search for what you need, and many stores offer apps that automatically give you discounts if you display the app to them. These are much more time effective ways to distribute coupons to consumers and if more coupons were available through electronic methods, I could see myself beginning to make use of them again.

In addition, printed coupons have a negative impact on the environment. Companies waste a large quantity of paper, often on circulars that many people simply throw away and don’t even bother to read. Countless trees are destroyed to create these circulars and other advertisements that likely only actually get through to a small percentage of their intended audience. Electronic coupons help to alleviate this problem as well. They reduce environmental stress from excessive paper production as well as production costs since one need only create an online coupon for customers to use.

I urge companies across the world to convert to electronic coupons. Save the environment, save on production expenses, and save consumers both time and money. Everybody wins!

More and more ways are cropping up to obtain electronic coupons, or find them online and print your own, so you’re only printing coupons you will actually use. Websites like I’m In, RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, and Groupon, store apps like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Big Lots, and online store coupons are becoming more and more popular. Eventually, circular coupons and other forms of paper coupons will be obsolete. In many ways, they already are but some companies still insist on sending them.

Coupon usage rises and falls, but now that they’re much more readily available, I believe their usage will be once again on the rise. The best thing I can suggest to businesses that provide electronic coupons is to make them as easy to find and use as possible. This will considerably boost the consumer base and make us more likely to recommend said company to others. Even better than coupons though are excellent everyday prices, with or without them. Keep prices low and you’ll keep consumers coming back for more.

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