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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Cat F.

In the world of the TLC television show, “Extreme Couponing”, people save hundreds of dollars simply by using loads and loads of coupons. They devote hours and hours a week scavenging for coupons on items that they might not even need, though still purchase for the sake of a good bargain. After all, why pass up an opportunity to buy something ninety percent off its ordinary price? Though they may have an extensive stock pile, my family is still intrigued by their mindset; “let’s try to do that” we unanimously concluded after watching seasons and seasons of others saving money.

It was astoundingly foolish and naive for us to believe that it would be a quick, easy task to simply snip a few coupons from a bundle; but we were greatly mistaken. There was an aspect of the television show that was not, in the slightest, given enough credit: time. The time it took to strategically plan and make multiple copies a proper amount of coupons for a proper amount of products was immense. Eventually, it was no longer a family activity to sit down and clip coupons together, but a chore, done every evening. If my siblings and I did not clip the ideal amount of coupons necessary for the bi-weekly shopping trip, we could kiss our allowances goodbye. Determined, we developed a taste for cheaper, on-sale items. Basically, our mindset was “who cares if it is yummy? If we get it at little to no cost, I will teach myself to adore it”.

“Is it on sale?” was a frequently asked question by my suddenly thrifty, and somewhat frugal father not long after our decision to begin our (not-so-extreme) couponing. It became clear to my siblings and me: unless it was an absolute necessity, if it was not on sale, we might as well not even pick up the wanted item or even ask about it. Dad was absolutely determined to only periodically buy in bulk, for every item goes on sale at certain times throughout the year, and because it was on a schedule, we would take loads of a single product, for it to sit steadily on a shelf in the basement for months, ready for usage. Never again would our family run out of products such as baked beans or mixed vegetables. Canned goods was the new Garden of Eden, and don’t even get me started on the Ramen noodles that were fifteen cents a package.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save with the best sales, too!

Though it was a tremendously tedious process to constantly clip countless coupons, there was a, what shall we call it, clever trick that my father set on the side. To teach us all the money that we may save while couponing, he set aside a separate bundle of money in the bank. In this account, he put 50% of all that we saved. By the end of our first year couponing, we had a few hundred dollars in the account. Not bad for a busy family with no stay-at-home, full time couponers. Dad said that we could use that money for a big gift that upcoming Christmas. And despite the broken tailbone I later received from falling off that said gift, every child adores a trampoline. With his little side-joke, we learned a lesson: couponing did not just save a few dollars here and there! Money builds up, and you may use that money to invest in something spectacular, like a trampoline for instance.

Hopefully, in college, I will continue on with my economical attempts at saving money, even if that means living on Ramen noodles and black beans. Even though I will not exactly get to buy a trampoline, I can use that money for what young adults adore: fun, fun, and more fun! Who knows, by the end of next year, I may have saved enough money for something as small as a night with the girls or something as great as a road trip to the beach! Regardless, a little can go a long way, and a little bit of saved money is better than nothing at all.

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