The spread of technology in today’s day and age has made coupons more readily available to anyone.  Now, large online companies are mass-producing coupons for any kind of business imaginable that are fully available to anyone.  With a few clicks of a mouse someone can save thousands a year on just about anything.  This increased availability of ways to save money raises the question of how much this influx of coupons has changed the consumers’ habits of spending money. Also, do coupons in general cause a shift in how buyers make their choices? Certainly, someone with a coupon is more likely to purchase a given item if it helps him or her save money in doing so. Yet, some coupons just aren’t even worth printing.  This is why any smart shopper must take a step back and evaluate each coupon they come in contact with to determine if it is indeed advantageous to use.

As there are many varieties of coupons available to consumers, it is important to first understand their differences. Between BOGOs, percentage-offs, money value, and some others; it is important to carefully do the math to see how much you will really save if you use the coupon. It is important to understand that some coupons or offers are only valid if a minimum purchase limit is made.  If this given quantity of the item is not sensible to purchase, then a smart consumer will simply buy the amount they would usually buy. For example, if a college student has a coupon for “buy two laptops: get one free,” unless he has serious need for a second laptop, it would be a little excessive to use this coupon.  Two laptops could get quite expensive, especially for someone soon to be paying off student loans.  Therefore, although it is true that he would be getting three laptops for the price of two, he would be spending twice as much as he had planned.  This is where some people may fall into the trap of these types of coupons. It is true that some consumers would be able to afford and show need for two laptops, so a third would be a fine bonus. Yet, in this type of situation it is always imperative to fully evaluate purchases when deciding whether or not to use a coupon.

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Similarly, another tactic that businesses use when soliciting coupons is giving out many at once. Some time last year, I found a sheet of Burger King coupons in the newspaper.  Many of them were offers for discounted meals or buy one sandwich get one free.  I noticed that they were only good for about two months.  In turn, I found myself eating there sometimes more than twice a week after work.  I then took a step back and realized that in an effort to save money I was not only eating very unhealthily, but spending more money that I usually would on food (as I had plenty of food at home that was already bought.  Therefore, coupons are mostly only useful when they are to be used on something that a consumer would usually buy.  This is how Burger King got a customer (me) eating at their restaurant more through this tactic.

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On the other hand, this is not to say that coupons are evil and trick people into buying things that they do not really need or want to buy.  It is true that they are a marketing tool that buyers must be weary of, but also a valuable source of saving money.  It all boils down to being smart about using coupons and how beneficial they will really be in making, or not making, a purchase.  So, it is evident that coupons clearly have the power to change how people spend their money and what they spend it on by making items look more attractive due to a lowered price.  Yet, they are still a vital part of our capitalist society and a source of great benefit for both the business and consumer.