No matter what store I go to or what I am buying, I check my email for a coupon just in case I could save a couple bucks. If I am compared to every other American, I’m sure they’re not too different. Some people don’t care about saving that extra couple dollars but most people do. Media and advertisements are always based around what is saving you the most money so if you get a coupon it feels like you are cheating the system, but in reality you’re not.

I have worked in retail for over a year and a half and multiple people hand me multiple coupons during every shift I work. Half the time, the coupon is expired or does not work. These are moments when some customers get super annoyed with the worker but hey, it’s not our fault! Now, when the coupon does work, we look like the hero. What I have learned in my working experience is to always act like the coupon might not work. Then when it doesn’t work, the customer isn’t too upset. When it does work, the customer hearing how they should get that other sweater too, doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea. Another thing I have learned is that most of these coupons aren’t saving you that much money. “Spend $40 and you get $10 off your purchase.” Businesses put these out and it looks like a great deal because you get 10 whole dollars off of your purchase! Businesses also price the items in the store. Unless you are an extremely savvy shopper, you are going to grab a $39.95 pair of jeans and fall in love with them. When the cashier tells you that you need to spend just a little bit more to get the coupon, more people are going to grab an item for $5 then forget about the coupon. In this example you’re supposed to save $10 but now you’re pretty much saving $5 on an item you barely wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen into the coupon traps before, I am not that savvy. I’ll switch to my shopper brain. If I go to a store just to shop, I’ll casually pull out my phone and search my email for whatever store I am in. If I find a coupon then it’s safe to shop, I will look at price tags and think about what the price will be post-coupon. If the price isn’t that bad (it usually isn’t) then I will probably purchase that item and more. If I go to a store without a coupon, I am cautious. I will only buy something if and only if I love it and can imagine using/wearing it all the time. To get into specifics, if I am at a grocery store I am not too worried about the prices of the food or whatever I am buying. If I am at the mall for some retail therapy, coupons make me feel better about spending money. Even though I mostly use coupons when I am spending money on things I don’t necessarily need, coupons come in really handy on everyday items. If I go to Target for my foundation I tragically ran out of that morning, I look in all of my magazines to see if there are some make-up coupons. If there is a coupon for a foundation I don’t usually use, I am influenced to buy that one instead. I have actually done this before, with face wash, foundation, eyeliner, and many other beauty items.

Why do we change our minds so quickly when it comes to spending money? I am not too sure but I came to the conclusion that it is directly related to spur of the moment decisions. If you compare the price of an off-brand item and the item you bought with a coupon, the off-brand item was probably still less expensive. This I know because my dad used to be a savvy couponer. It’s time consuming but he would write out a grocery list and see what coupons he could find. One thing that he did differently than most people is that he did not let those coupons influence him into buying unneeded items or brands he would never usually buy. This is how I think people should try to shop because being swayed by a coupon can lead you to buying things you realize you didn’t want or spending even more money because you saved a few dollars.

No matter what people will try to save money, including me. Coupons will keep printing by the thousand and customers will keep receiving and redeeming. Maybe people will become more strict with their money and decisions and maybe they won’t. Over all, coupons will keep affecting how people spend money rather than save.