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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Brandi H.

The concept of couponing has been around for ages. Coupons offer free money to consumers, so it makes perfect sense to utilize them; however, as much power as money holds in today’s society, countless dollars’ worth of coupons are thrown away each day. I question if short-term convenience has evolved to dominate long-term savings. Although I consider myself an economical consumer, I am also guilty of allowing convenience to often influence my purchasing decisions.

In a culture where consumers are given the option to select convenience, we have the benefit of increasing the quantity of tasks that can be accomplished within a certain time period. For example, rather than spending several days building weapons, tracking, hunting, cleaning and harvesting game animals, I can simply select a package of meat from a variety of pre-processed meats from a grocery store within a matter of seconds. At that same grocery store, I may grab a loaf of bread or a box of cereal without much thought concerning the investments of bringing grain from the field to the table. Convenience has allowed me to tend to my wants while focusing less on basic survival necessities. I am able to earn more at a job by increasing working hours instead of using that time and labor to produce essentials. In many ways, the practice of couponing is comparable to hunting. The existence of coupons is known and when time and effort are put into finding them, the outcome consists of reward in the form of savings. The extent of coupon usage is dependent on personal preference and in my case, I’m not willing to sacrifice much to search for them; however, I do still consider myself an economical consumer.

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Though I don’t go out of my way to acquire coupons, price tags are still important to me. I pay special attention to advertisements, scan stores for signs indicating sales and narrow my options if coupons are readily available. My final purchase price may not be as low as possible, but I would not label myself as a competitive consumer. If an item seems too expensive, I either move on or seek an alternative rather than attempting to win at the game of couponing. I am content with exchanging earned resources for items and discounts serve as additional satisfaction for making intellectual judgments.

While I may not see myself as a competitive consumer, I still like to maintain a sense of order while shopping and after purchases are made. Whether or not I have coupons, I create lists. Lists ensure that I don’t take detours on the way to goals that I’ve set for myself. Over the years, I’ve been taught to stock up on items when they’re on sale as most products have a long shelf life and can be stored for later. I’ve also been taught to respect what I buy. The more care that is put into maintaining an item’s quality, the longer it will last thus lowering the chances of replacement and saving money.

Although I often resort to convenience, I don’t believe convenience is always the best solution. With the advantage of having access to modern accommodations, it’s easy to assume conveniences will be around forever, so basic survival skills are often forgotten because they can be met effortlessly. Perhaps, it would be beneficial to utilize coupons more often to help avoid this mentality. Though my survival doesn’t depend on savings directly through coupons, the act of putting effort into seeking better bargains by using coupons may lessen the desire to depend on convenience. Couponing encourages careful selection of products because limitations are present. Although the convenience of having a product at my fingertips may still exist, the actual purchase is no longer based on convenience; rather, the purchase is based on necessity. Through couponing, strategy and critical thought become two important factors that influence purchasing decision, and they are also two vital components that should be restored back into our economy.

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