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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Amy P.

It is very rare that coupons influence my purchasing decisions, for several reasons, namely, because I am a vegetarian. However, it isn’t just that I don’t eat meat; it is also that I try and eat healthy and cook every meal using fresh ingredients. I find that looking through the coupons in the sale papers, all of the items listed are for products that are prepackaged or canned, and for the most part I steer clear of these items completely. Lastly, I notice that many items that I see coupons for are completely unnecessary for anyone of any diet, for example packaged drinks and junk food. However, there are many items that are unnecessary for me to have that I do purchase, when there is a coupon available, and maybe with a plan of marketing a booklet of coupons to a more health conscious demographic, I would be more inclined to try new products, and subsequently spend a little more money in the grocery store.

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Every week I receive coupon booklets in my mailbox, and I have to toss them into the recycling bin because they are always for products that, honestly, offend me; deli meats, cheap cuts of meat, canned meat, etc. Nothing I ever see in these booklets looks healthy. Maybe if there were separate coupon books/ads that were mailed to me that were focused around more healthy products, or that were marketed toward products primarily sold at larger health food stores (ex. Whole Foods) then I would feel much more positive about sorting through the coupons.

Another issue I have with coupon books is that they tend to send me a mixed message; on one hand I feel the compulsion to sort through them, because as a child we clipped coupons every week. I also am a student, and have a very low income, so I look for ways to save money everywhere I can. On the other hand, the items within them are items that are unhealthy, as mentioned earlier, which makes me sad about what most people are putting inside their bodies. I don’t believe I am the only person with this mentality, and I don’t believe that only vegetarians have this mentality. For example, my boyfriend does eat meat, but would only purchase meat from a place he trusted. This goes for other products as well, he purchases products with as little ingredients and as little unnatural ingredients as possible. When shopping together we avoid going to stores where there are items that are unhealthy. I prefer to shop at grocery stores that cater to my healthy lifestyle, and it would be really wonderful if there were coupons that catered toward this as well.

There is the occasional time while in the grocery store I will see a coupon machine next to an item I would like to try, making it in my budget range. This past weekend, for example, I did use a coupon for a mock chicken product that normally I never would have purchased because of the price, but there were coupons for a dollar off stuck to the freezer door, so I thought I would at least try it. “Why not?”, I thought to myself, “I was going to buy a block of tofu, but these will be the same price as that with the coupon”, was my logic. I really think that if there were more coupon machines next to products in the stores, I would be much more inclined to use them. Seeing the item isolated next to the coupon, not jumbled in with a bunch of products that I would never buy, makes it much easier for someone like me to use the coupon. Having to sort through a lot of unhealthy products in a sale paper can be very depressing, and therefore deterring for me, personally, and I believe for others who choose to eat healthy as well.

In conclusion, I believe that there is an unspoken idea that people who eat healthy, and/or shop at health food grocery stores have a lot of money, and this just isn’t the case. As mentioned previously, I have a very low income, and am a student, so shopping smart is crucial. Every dollar counts and I would love to be able to clip thorough coupons and use them, but there just aren’t many for me to use. Working in healthcare and taking pre-medicine courses, I am well aware that obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases/health problems directly related to diet are on the rise. As a result many people are making the switch to eating healthier. I would argue that people trying to eat healthier would be the most inclined to use coupons to save money, if given more opportunity to do so, due to the fact that many pre-packaged foods like mock-meats, and additive free products can be significantly more expensive than their unhealthy counterparts. I propose that if a coupon booklet were made with strictly food sold at health food grocery stores, it would certainly hit a demographic of people who have not previously used coupons to start using them.

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