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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Deanna U.

Do coupons influence your purchasing decisions…why, or why not?

Money, money, money!!!! The older I get, the more I seem to spend and the more I seem to need. It all started with candy purchases as a kid, or a little toy. As a teenager, I started having to pay for my own gas (for a whopping $1.25 a gallon at the time!!) Then it was clothes for myself, and rent, and the dentist. It seems to keep growing. Now I have a teenage son, tuition, rent, commuting expenses to college 80 miles away, a massive cut in pay due to schooling demands but the bills don’t quit coming.

The question then comes, how do I make ends meet? How can I save money and still get the things my family needs? How can I stretch the ever-demanding dollar? Creativity is one answer I have come up with.

Creativity can span every aspect of life: applying for scholarships for school, yard sale shopping for stuff for the house, buying and selling on Craigslist, carpooling whenever possible, and clipping coupons and keeping an eye out for sales. It’s amazing how much these efforts can help in the bottom line.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save a bunch with our grocery coupons!

When I was in my early twenties, I traveled with a worship team for a few years. Money was very tight, but you know what they say, necessity is the mother of invention. That time in my life is what taught me the skill of creative spending and creative income. I had Friday and Saturday mornings off while I was traveling so I would spend my early hours of those days driving to all the local yard sales of whatever town we happened to be at for the day. The things I would find I would sell on eBay which helped stretched the little bit of money I had.

Since I had such limited funds, I had to watch every penny I earned. Over the course of one year that was especially lean, I stretched $1000 to last me an entire year. Unbelievable!! I always read the ads in the paper for specials on essentials. I started utilizing websites that provide coupons like groupon, grocery store websites, department store and outlet store ads, and the Pennysaver (I never missed a Pennysaver.)

Now that I’m married, have a son and am working my way through one last year of nursing school, my creativity with money has definitely come in handy. Black Friday is always a special occasion in my family. Why pay five dollars for something you can pay two dollars for, or $75 for something you can pay $30 for? Every year before black Friday, I look at all the specials and do my homework about which of those specials are especially good bargains.

But one key element of coupon and sale shopping is the question of need. Finding a bargain is useless if it’s something you wouldn’t normally buy. I’ve seen people buy random things solely because they found a coupon that made it sound like a good deal. But if that is the only reason for the purchase, then you have just wasted your money which defeats the whole purpose of bargain shopping. I suppose that is my checks and balance system. Whenever I find a “great coupon” or an “awesome sale”, I always ask myself if that item is something I was actually in the market to buy. If my answer is yes, then I will go forward with the purchase.

I think that is part of the element of creativity. Don’t be deceived by the “great deals”. Look, investigate, do your homework but don’t buy in to the novelty of the coupon.

Coupons are company’s way of vying for your business. It’s a beautiful thing on both ends if used properly. Don’t let companies sell you meaningless junk. Let them sell you things you need or want and are in the market to buy. When they offer you coupons, sales, and bargains, they are highlighting things they hope will draw you in. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t really want what they’re featuring, you’re not doing anyone a favor by buying it. So, be creative. Keep your eyes open, your ears to the ground, and your mind engaged. It’s your money. Be wise and be creative with it.

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