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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Chelsea A.

Coupons. Some people think they’re just for old ladies who spend their Sunday afternoons in front of their favorite television program while clipping coupons out of the morning paper. But, for me, coupons are my key to living a full life as a single mom with a very minimal income. Things I buy on a regular basis like groceries, cosmetic items and daily hygiene items all come with a price tag – and often a very high price tag. I decided not long ago that I would refuse to buy most of these items at full price. I began to scour online sites for coupons and the inserts from the newspaper for sales at my local grocery store. I also found that there were plenty of blogs that highlighted the best deals using coupons for the week. I learned the trick of combining manufacturer coupons with store coupons to maximize deals and discounts.

Every time I manage to find an amazing coupon deal on some of my favorite products, I get an adrenaline rush. If I don’t have a coupon for a product I like, I either don’t buy it or try to wait until I can find a coupon for it. If I have coupons for something, I try to stock up on it even if I don’t need it at the time. My spare closet has a wide assortment of toothpastes, body washes, razors, shampoos, conditioners and other items that I got for very cheap all because of coupons. It’s really nice when I realize I’ve run out of shampoo while in the shower to have at least five spare bottles to choose from downstairs. My favorite achievements are when I get items for just pennies, for free or for negative costs all because of coupons. It makes me feel proud when I am able to save money just by exerting a little more effort on my part.

I’ve found that using coupons also helps me to be more educated about what I buy. Even after just a short time using coupons, I knew what the average price is for most items I buy on a regular basis. That way, I know when things are a good deal or when I should be sure to find a coupon to supplement a purchase. Coupons make you pay more attention to price tags instead of just grabbing the first item you see on the shelf. It also helps me to be more deliberate about purchases. I don’t make as many knee-jerk purchases that I find myself later regretting, or not even using because I carefully plan what I buy and when with coupons.

While coupons don’t exist for all the items I buy, using coupons whenever possible allows me to free up money to do other things I want to do – like occasionally go out to eat or take my baby somewhere fun. Before I buy anything, I hop on the computer to look for promo codes or coupons. Normally I can find some sort of deal to help me save a few bucks. It may not seem significant, but even just saving three or four dollars every grocery trip can help give me a little bit more breathing room in my budget.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

As a single mom, I want to be able to spend as much time with my daughter as possible. For me, that meant turning down a promotion that would have paid more because I knew it would take me away from her for long stretches of time very regularly. The way I make up for that loss of income is by couponing. I am able to save a significant amount of money on everyday purchases so I can spend more precious moments with my daughter. For some people, coupons may seem like a hassle or a pain. And in a way, they’re right. Yes, it does involve planning and forethought and may not be the “cool” thing to do. But when couponing allows me to provide the daily needs for my daughter and me, I think it is most certainly worth a little extra trouble on my part.

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