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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Chelsey K.

In a realistic world, I am way to busy, and way too selfish to participate in couponing. To use coupons in our society almost has a “poor person” stigma, also. I participate despite this ignorant thinking, but I know some people that do not participate because they say it makes them look poor, or desperate to save a penny, but for me who has to watch money, taking a couple hours a week to look through and find coupons has definitely saved me hundreds of dollars throughout the year, if not at least one thousand dollars. I have done my research on how to save the most money and get the most money back with coupons, and the preparation needed to succeed. It takes A LOT of time to make searching, retrieving, and using coupons worth it, but when I have an extra fifty to two hundred dollars a month to play with, it is worth the time invested to retrieve and use coupons on my grocery and household items shopping.

To find coupons, I have to search coupon websites (coupons.com is my favorite), the mail, newspapers, and then sort through them all one by one, discarding coupons I will not use. Once I find coupons that I know I need or will use, I then have to keep track of expiration dates, and I do so by filling them in a system where I use the coupons that will expire first, first. After I have retrieved and gone through all my coupons, I now have to research stores I can use these coupons at to yield the best profit, because some stores allow the customer to combine store coupons with manufacturer ones, and some stores allow you to double or triple coupons. Another task to couponing is to know when things are the cheapest to purchase, which generally happens in a six to eight week cycle. So to buy at the cheapest along with coupons, maximizes savings tremendously! I am really, really bad about this part, because it takes a lot of research, but I cannot deny that I have spent hours doing research on popular stores I shop at like Target, Publix, Dunkin Donuts, Wal-Mart, and Harris Teeter. Another thing is to know when stores are having sales, so that I can combine coupons with sale items to get more for my money. So if I can plan it right to make my purchases when things are cheapest and when there is a sale going on, and pair that with manufacturer and store coupons, I end up barely spending anything on my purchases!

Some other interesting things I have found while couponing over the past year is that some manufacturer coupons, up to a certain value, can be doubled at some grocery stores; you can use one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon per item; if the store is out of a certain item you planned on buying, you can ask customer service for a “rain check”; it is better to buy in bulk for frequently used items when they are on sale and combined with coupons; being flexible with name brands will save you a lot more money than only buying name brand stuff; narrow down the places you shop because you can focus more time and effort on three stores versus ten when shopping for groceries and household supplies, and even clothes; ALWAYS wait for a sale when you get a coupon, so you can save more money!

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

So in conclusion, coupons most definitely affect my purchases because I am on a tight budget, and I like to be able to go shopping and out with friends, so saving money on groceries and household supplies gives me a little bit of financial flexibility. It has taught me more than just saving money, it has taught me responsibility, ways to be creative on a tight budget, and couponing has even taught me a little about eating healthier! I have actually convinced several of my friends to participate, and they all love it already. Saving money isn’t necessarily about not buying stuff, it’s about buying it smarter!

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