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

When purchasing items in a store a coupon is hardly the first thing I think of when it comes to savings. That being said, I also recognize the value in them. I have found that my mother uses coupons extensively (not as much as the super shoppers who basically have a whole year’s worth of tuna and laundry detergent in their basements) and I have always looked in the “coupon compartment” in her car before going into whichever store I am entering to see if I can discover any “deals.” So once I am already at the store I look to see if there are any discounts available, but I never plan a trip based upon coupon availability or use. It is strictly a bonus for whatever other items I may fancy, not the main goal of my shopping trip.

As far as to why that may be, I am unclear. It may be that I have never been forced to live a life where coupons were one hundred percent necessary to be able to afford any food, which I am extremely thankful for. But there is also the fact that my mother uses them regularly and has told me the countess stories of her coupon cutting days when every Saturday morning she would sit down in the living room and cut out all the coupons and plan her budget for feeding the then family of four on the smallest budget she could manage. So I do see the value in them, and have a small amount of sentimental value attached to finding a coupon in the car knowing my mom thought it was a steal of a deal and wanted to keep the coupon with her so she could cash-in whenever she was able.

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Thinking of the benefits of coupons and the small (when used individually and sporadically) amount of savings they can bring really sheds light upon the value we as a society have placed on money. What I mean by this is the decreasing value for the “hard-earned buck” by the general middle-class American. We no longer value savings above convenience. As a whole, we are more content to spend less time scouring newspapers and other typed adds for coupons and spend more money on the products we buy. Why, though? I would wager that it comes down to the increased sense of entitlement and immediate gratification that Americans are becoming more and more used to. We want everything immediately and have determined that we deserve everything we want, regardless of the need for any work that may go into it. We, as a society, have determined that getting everything we want when we want it is more important that financial security or smart investments.

The unfortunate reality is that the use of coupons, the small amount of effort for a small immediate reward, although it creates a cumulative difference in savings, is overlooked because we prefer to get things immediately. The consumeristic nature of American Society has led us to avoid putting in effort for any small returns (even if when totalled can be large). Everyone is focused on the next big thing, and coupons are not a part of that thought process as a whole. I can say, with confidence actually, that after writing this essay I will think more and more about the use of coupons in my daily life from here on. Recognizing this building effect and seeing that I have been throwing it away because of the small amount of immediate investment is incredibly eye-opening to me. I will definitely increase my use of coupons and awareness of them from this point on, as their value is not one of immediate gratification, but one of prolonged retention of funds.

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