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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-August D.

I must be frank; I do not usually use coupons myself, as I am only a senior in high school and at present, do not purchase the groceries in my household. My mother, with whom I live, usually takes responsibility for that chore, although I often make requests for certain foods, and her decision to comply with these requests may sometimes be influenced by whether or not the item is on sale, or whether she has a coupon for it.

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My mother is a very frugal shopper, being a single parent. She says she is a “creature of habit” because she tends to buy certain items every week of the same brands and same types of foods. For instance, we often eat food made from scratch because it’s cheaper, so she buys a lot of rice, pasta, beans, potatoes and vegetables, chicken or peanut butter.  I am a typical teenager, who loves chips, pizza, ice cream, etc. My mother makes sure I eat a healthy diet, but if she finds a coupon for an item that is relatively healthy, and not too expensive, she will buy it for me.  She particularly likes coupons for Paul Newman’s frozen pizza and packaged hummus and salsa.

My mother says there are different types of coupons: coupons for items we normally buy, such as certain brands of laundry detergent and toothpaste, and coupons for what she calls luxury items, like frozen burritos, or ice cream bars. As long as the ingredients are good, and the price is within our budget, she will occasionally use a coupon to buy something in the luxury
column for me.

The problem with coupons, my mother says, is that they are difficult to keep track of in your wallet. There are some stores that have online coupons, which she says is easier. Or there are stores that have done away with coupons and have lowered their prices across the board, like Shaw’s, which she says is the best of all.

So, in response to the question as to whether coupons influence my (or in this instance, my mother’s) purchasing decision, I would answer it depends on the quality of the product and the “fit” of the product within my family’s “brand habit.”  I would say my family tends toward products that have few artificial ingredients and preservatives, and are a good value. My mother likes to buy organic products, but they are too expensive usually, so she will often buy the store brand “organic.”  She says she would buy more brand name organic items if she had coupons for them.

I don’t think I would use coupons because I agree with my mother in that I don’t like to keep track of little pieces of paper to get a small amount of money off a product. That seems too fussy for me and my friends.  Maybe when I get older and have a family of my own (and more mouths to feed) I will feel differently.

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