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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Elizabeth D.

Do coupons influence your purchasing decisions? Why or why not?

As a mother, I am always looking for the best products for my children. As a working college student, I am dedicating my time to school or work, and there is not much time for shopping. As a woman on a budget, I need to focus on staying within my set amount while stretching my dollar as far as it will go. Somewhere in the crossroads, I have to find a way to get what I need quickly and cost-effectively, which affects how I use coupons. I either look for coupons specifically for what I need or where I am going.

Usually, I have a specific item that I need. I could Google coupons, but most of the time, these are not free, or they are shams. A lot of times, I get coupons from family and friends who subscribe to actual newspapers, but that means I get leftover coupons (not to mention the fact that I then have to search through each page, looking specifically for what I want). By this time, I have either become disappointed in my search, or I have given up, and I hope that whatever I need happens to be on sale.

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Sometimes, I need to go to a certain store, but I do not have a specific item in mind. That is when I look at the deals online, hoping to stumble across a coupon that will save me money on something. But, again, it’s usually a coupon that I do not need, or one that is a certain dollar amount or percentage off an amount that is higher than what I will spend. Frustrated, I hope that I can find something reasonable at the destination to which I’m headed.

Coupons can sway my decision if I am actually indecisive. Occasionally, I will see a coupon, and think, “I have been meaning to try that! I think I will buy it now that I found a coupon.” Or I will find two items at the same price at two different stores, and then I will see a coupon off a certain purchase amount or for the specific item at one of these stores, and then I will decide to go that particular store.

Advertising coupons to my children, though, have been effective for my household. If one of my children has seen a television commercial that says something to this effect: “Check out our website for a coupon for this great product!” it only adds to the constant begging and seems to really solidify the case for whatever product is being put on trial at the moment. I have caved and purchased a product that my children have incessantly pleaded that they needed because there was a coupon.

But the coupon must actually be a savings amount worth using. Ten to fifteen percent off an item under ten dollars is not really worth using. Sure, it may be better than nothing, but I am looking for something to make a difference in the price if I am searching for coupons. I need the price to be significantly better when the coupon is used. If the coupon can be combined with other offers, it is like I have discovered gold.

Really, I would love to have a comparison-shopping site that would take the item I need or want and show me coupons at each place, or even the deals that are available. Then I would most definitely be swayed by coupons or discounts offered. The simpler couponing becomes, the more it influences my decision. It is not that I do not appreciate saving money; I need to save all that I can. In the fast-paced world of my life, though, I cannot afford to waste time in hopes to save a dollar or two. Ultimately, if I need the item, I will buy it, regardless of whether there is a deal or not.

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