Coming from a low income family of 5, many times we found ourselves browsing the isles and often times looking for coupons in the weekly store papers. The idea of “couponing” never seemed out of the ordinary, especially when having a stay at home mother and a self – employed construction worker for a father. Until just recently our annual income ranged at about $53,000 which often times meant that we could only get what we could afford. Very much like your average Hispanic family our go to grocery store was Fiesta Mart.
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It was easy for us as children to assume that we could afford the world, we saw our parents take out money and make purchases without really questioning where the money came from and how much it was worth. For me and my sisters a win was simply being able to get the Fiesta Mart brand fruit loops, not even paying attention to the fact that they were not the “official” Froot Loops brand. At the time I didn’t really understand the purpose of coupons or why they were so important. In fact the only thing I knew was the annoyance that came from having to separate the groceries into two carts as a way of getting the maximum amount of items with the least amount of money. It was a game we played to cheat the system into working for us.
It felt wrong at first and I vowed never to use coupons when shopping in general. When I started working I didn’t bother to look at the amount of money going out vs my income. It was not until I had been on my own for a couple of months that I realized I had to start strategizing my money. This shouldn’t have been hard since my mother always taught me and my sisters how to look items. I remembered going through isles answering questions such as: “Which brand is cheaper?”, “How many Oz. does each container have?”, and “How many is the limit?” I really didn’t understand then why, our home, it seemed normal to me. We lived in a 2 bedroom house in a not so good neighborhood, but we never needed anything. We never applied for loans, or paid any bills late. It always seemed to amaze me how well the money was managed.
Because of my inability of being able to sustain myself along with other reasons, I had to move back into my parent’s house. I wasn’t ready when I first moved out. I would blow money faster than I would get it. Up to this day I remembered going out with my mom to the grocery store, things haven’t changed much, except now she trust me to go on my own. Every time I make a smart buy or use a coupon I feel as though a part of her is with me. I found myself looking through the newspaper and the weekly store offers, not only for coupons, but also for deals. Anything that would lower the amount of money going out.
Many people would argue that graduating high school is time to celebrate finishing school, others celebrate that you are now entering the real world. Every time I mention moving out again, my mother gives me a glare and I know it’s her way of saying I’m not ready. This is only my freshman year in college and already I feel like I’ve bit off more than I can chew. Couponing was one way my mother has taught me to think logically, and as much as I hate to admit it, it does influence my purchasing decision. After all why would I pay twice the amount of a store brand, just because the logo on the opposing item is well known? Sometimes, I feel like we pay more for logos than we do for the actual nutrition supplements.