My first experience with coupons came in the Sunday morning newspaper. Every Sunday the newspaper would contain a special section just for penny pinchers. The coupon section was tucked in near all the grocery store advertisements. Coupons offered a way to stretch the dollar and still get the product you wanted.

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When first living on my own I made it a weekly ritual to flip through the pages of coupons and clip those that caught my interest. Some stores even offered to double the coupon so clipping coupons seemed like the best way to survive on the shoestring budget I was living on.  I was able to see the visible savings at the end of my receipt and it was very rewarding.

Within a few months, however, I began to see a trend that surprised me. I started realizing that I purchased more and more products each week after clipping coupons. Many times they were products I had a really good coupon for the first time I purchased them. Soon there were also the products that I had purchased in the previous weeks with a coupon and found I liked them so I bought them again, only this time without a coupon.

Coupons are very successful in influencing purchasing decisions. There were many times I bought products for the sole reason that I had a good coupon. I would have never tried them otherwise. Sometimes it was a one-time purchase but many times I became a brand loyalist after really liking the product I bought with the coupon.  While I was saving money on the products I purchased I was purchasing more and more products.

In time I found that I had to get more and more specific about the coupons I would clip. Just because I had a coupon did not mean I should buy it. I found that I was actually spending and buying more because of the coupons I had. I began to see how much obtaining a coupon made me prone to purchase the product, whether I needed it or not. They were a significant factor of influence over my purchasing choices.

Now I use coupons sparingly. I always look for products I already use. I also look for products in the store with a coupon right on them. If I need chocolate chips and one package has a coupon I am more prone to buy the one with the coupon (so once again the coupon is influencing my purchase decision).  The difference is that I was already planning on buying chocolate chips and the coupon is the extra incentive to buy that particular brand.

Coupons have changed significantly over the years but I still see their influential power over the purchaser. Obtaining coupon deals online is now my preferred way of saving money. There are numerous companies set up to simply provide online savings to everyday purchases. The bargains are not limited to items you would find in a local grocery or department store either. Now you can use coupons to save on anything from dining out to trips around the world. The persuasive power these deals have on the purchaser is larger than ever. The coupons are no longer one dimensional ads on newsprint but are often accompanied with pictures and videos. I am still a bargain hunter and I still use coupons.  In fact now when I want to attend an event, book a hotel, or just go out to eat I look online for coupons. It is often the presence of the coupon that determines my final decision on something.

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There is something satisfying about getting things you want and getting a good deal.  Coupons are the means to accomplish this. Marketing techniques will come and go but the effectiveness of coupons to influence the consumer guarantees that coupons, no matter what form they come in, will be around for a long time.