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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Caitlyn J.

Fast food restaurants, ice cream parlors, department stores… If there is a coupon for it, my family shops there. Financially, we are pretty well off. My dad, however, acts as if he is earning the bare minimum, and needs to be frugal with his money all the time. Therefore, we normally only spend cash at places we have obtained coupons for. My dad saves all the ones we receive in the mail and stores them in a red portfolio. The Coupon Cubby, as he likes to call it, accompanies us almost everywhere. He even brings it along when we go to nice restaurants, just in case. There is almost never a coupon for Olive Garden or Red Lobster, but he wants to be as thorough as possible when saving money. Though there are not any for nice restaurants, the portfolio is full of fast food ones, mostly offering the standard “buy one get one free” vouchers. However, if you actually take the time to look through the stack my dad has collected over the years (that is right…years), you will find the ones to Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A that I received in the third grade. Not only are half of them expired, but there are coupons to places I have never even heard of, restaurants and businesses alike. For example, we do not use a landscaping service, and since we are pretty lazy about caring for our yard, I doubt we ever will. Still, my dad keeps coupons of independent landscaping, plumbing, and electrical companies. You know, just in case.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on food and restaurants at I’m In!

Nevertheless, coupons are very important in my household. We rarely choose to go anywhere without first consulting the portfolio. Even if we are only saving two or three dollars, my family (more specifically, my dad) is happy. For example, we always opt for Dairy Queen if we want to go out for a quick meal. And if we want to order in, we choose Little Caesar’s. These are a couple of our go-to places, since we receive coupons for them monthly. When we use up the entire sheet, there is usually another one or two waiting for us in the mailbox. That is probably why we use coupons so often. My dad does not like to waste anything. Even if a coupon expired in 2006, he does not want to throw it away. So, if we receive ten perfectly good vouchers for a free drink when you purchase a drink of the same value or higher, we want to hold onto it. My family is all about saving money, and it shows. We do not normally eat at Chinese restaurants, but every now and then, we will get a coupon for a free order of egg rolls. This is enough persuasion for my dad, who will then load the car up and drive us to said restaurant.

The life of saving, however, gets pretty old after a while. Couponing can be a great way to stretch your money, and we really do when we opt to eat and shop at places that we have some sort of voucher for. But at the same time, I wish we did not have to revolve our lives and wallets around what coupons are in the portfolio. I wish we had the opportunity to experience new restaurants, and shop somewhere other than Kohl’s. Maybe, we could sign up somewhere to receive different coupons for different stores. Or perhaps, we could buy one of those entertainment books that has vouchers for hundreds of places. It would be much more organized than the Coupon Cubby, and it would have a better selection than what we are offered in the mail. That way, we could dine at new restaurants and purchase clothes from new stores and still save money. I think it would satisfy everyone in the family, including my dad. Since couponing heavily influences where my family purchases goods, I think it is time to find some other places worthy of our money.

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