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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Christine S.

I used to be embarrassed of my mom’s coupon-clipping, discount-dependent, bargain-hunting approach to shopping. Growing up, I rolled my eyes and hid my face in shame when she wouldn’t let my buy the new, full-price shirt I wanted (because everyone had it), instead steering me to the back of the store where the older, marked-down selections were shoved back in the corner. I didn’t understand why she refused to buy certain cereals because she had a coupon for another, or why she’d walk through the aisles of the grocery store flipping through a bundle of scraps of paper, pulling some out and paper clipping them in with her grocery list to remind her to give them to the cashier later (which I also found irrationally mortifying, the fact that she held up the line by making cashiers scan through numerous coupons, informing them when a price rang up incorrectly and even occasionally sending me back into the aisle to bring back the sale sign). It didn’t make sense to me back then: she’d stand her ground over a 25 cent coupon; were these silly things (which she spent hours cutting out) really worth it?

It wasn’t until I was older (and began spending my own money) that I started to see her reasoning. While my friends purchased the latest fashions to hit stores and bought whatever items they wanted to, regardless of sales or discounts, I shopped the clearance sections and clipped coupons on the couch with my mom. And, consequently, while my friends complained about being broke, I began to save up money. My friends didn’t seem to get it, either—they’d poke fun at me for being “cheap” and for refusing to buy certain things because they weren’t on sale and I didn’t have a coupon. They did, however, begrudgingly acknowledge the upside of my frugality when I’d show up to dinner out with a coupon that brought the whole table’s total down or when I’d pull out a buy one, get one free coupon for tickets at the movies (along with a free popcorn from the rewards club).

Now, I’m a coupon junkie (and I claim that title with the utmost pride). With all of the new methods of finding coupons today, it’s almost too easy to find a good deal. I still clip paper coupons from the newspaper, but now I also add e-coupons to my store rewards cards, search the internet for discount codes and coupons for stores before I go to shop, and get emails about sales and coupon deals (to name a few). And as more companies jump in on the coupon trend (especially in the new online format), I find my purchasing decisions more and more influenced by the deals I find. Unless something is an absolute immediate necessity, I wait for a good deal; every time, my patience pays off. If I get a great coupon for a new product or one I hadn’t previously tried, I’m encouraged to give it a shot—why not, when you’re saving so much? When I get an email with a coupon for a certain store, I choose to shop there over other places, finding items I could find elsewhere (but not on sale) and feeling better about buying them when I get to, for instance, take 40% off my entire purchase.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save at your favorite stores at I’m In!

There’s something about the rush of getting a good deal that makes you want to shop with sales and coupons. It’s the feeling of satisfaction and pride you get when you hand over a coupon or your e-coupons are added on and you see your total drop drastically in price. It’s the extra spring in your step when you walk out of a store with exactly what you wanted and look down at a receipt that shows that you saved more than you spent. My mother’s shopping habits used to embarrass me. Now, I embrace them. Now, I roll my eyes at the people in the stores gravitating toward the full-priced new arrivals, mindlessly throwing more expensive options of food into their carts, and checking out with no savings on their totals (while I follow behind them and rack up the discounts with pride). In today’s world, saving money matters more than ever—so why not take advantage of the deals at our fingertips? I may have once thought it embarrassing, and my friends may have called me cheap, but now, I prefer to think of shopping with coupons in one simple term: smart.

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