“Do coupons influence your purchasing decisions? Why, or why not?”
Yes, coupons do influence my purchasing decisions. Coupons can be very helpful especially if used to their maximum potential with the combination of pricing at your local store. For items that I consider essentials, used daily and that are replaced on a regular basis, such as detergent, softener, paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning solutions, I typically like to purchase the name brand/or specific brands that I know and trust because I like the function and result of the product. Therefore, when coupons for the more expensive/preferred product come up were the difference between the less expensive and name brand is zero or only a few cents difference, then I am able to stock up and purchase those items that I favor in large amounts until more cost-effective sales and coupons come around. Coupons, in this case, can influence how often I purchase a product and the amount I purchase in a single shopping trip.
In the case of introducing new items that are not on my weekly grocery list, coupons might sway me to try them, although this is not often the case. Most of the time coupons are for items that I would not plan on purchasing and therefore are not useful to me. Still, I do find that coupons come in handy every now and then, if there is a new food item or product that I would like to try, but is on the expensive side or is something that I could do without, and therefore I would not purchase. If a coupon is available for that new item, then I would be more inclined to try it to see if I preferred it over my usual item or if it is something totally new that I would consider buying on a regular basis. If a coupon does convince me to try a new product the chances of purchasing it again with or without a coupon are low because I most likely already have a similar product that I am already familiar with and favor.
As someone who at one time used to spend a significant amount of hours dedicated to couponing, it is important to realize that couponing can turn into a full-time job and not necessarily be to your health benefit, even if it does benefit the health of your wallet. In my experience, coupons have been for foods that I have come to realize are not what I desire for myself or my family. I have found that the most common frequent coupons are for fatty foods, frozen/microwavable foods packed with salt and sugar laden cereals, candy, and drinks. Foods that are considered healthier, such as organic, natural, hormone free or for specialized diet requirements, such as gluten free, are rarely if ever advertised with a coupon. Even though I was saving money, felt accomplished and proud after every shopping trip for feeding my family on a small budget, it came to the point where I did not like what we were eating as a result of couponing. Focusing too much on saving money, in my experience, resulted in scarifying our nutrition, and in my opinion, couponing for food was no longer the best option.
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If there are no coupons available for products or foods I favor, if it is in my budget, I still purchase what I prefer and save on other items that I do not mind buying generic. In the big scheme of things, I have a set grocery list of weekly, bi-weekly, monthly items I purchase and coupons rarely alter my list. Coupons, in my case, have the most influence on the amount of an item I buy. Coupons convincing me to add new items to my grocery list would most likely occur on special occasions, where I might consider buying something to make an event extra special, but this would probably not result in a regular weekly purchase.
Coupons in the clothing and accessories department, on the other hand, are almost always a significant influence to make a purchase. These coupons I considered extremely valuable in this department because clothing and accessories lose their value the minute they are purchased and become a used product. Lastly, with all coupons you need to always be mindful of the small print that could lead you to spend more money because of specific coupon requirements. It is always best to understand what your coupon is for and know what you need and intend on buying to get the best value. If not, this is how coupons can get you in trouble because they get you to walk in the store for one thing but you can easily get distracted.