Coupons, as is well known, are a common place sort of deal used to provide discounts on certain items for a certain amount of time, or if you buy a certain amount of some product. There are entire shows based on couponing culture, where people try to get as much as they can for the least amount of money. The stereotypical coupon user is generally a stay at home mom, perhaps from a lower class, who obviously has a great need to save money and get as much of a bargain as she can.
While coupons can be useful if you know how to use them to save money, many argue that they are simply tricking people into believing that they are making any savings, when in fact they aren’t really getting a better deal. Marketing techniques, some say, can fool people into thinking the store is looking out for them by using buzzwords or by qualifying deals in small print, so that the deals that are advertised aren’t as generous as they are made to believe.
Additionally, some argue that coupons, rather than saving money, make people want to spend more money buying things that they don’t need, simply because they are discounted. Buying a certain amount of a product in order to get a discount, some argue, isn’t really saving any money, ause yobecu wouldn’t have bought anything had you not had a coupon. But because there is a discount, people feel like they are saving money and tell themselves that they will need the item.
In this way, some argue that coupons, rather than helping the consumer, are actually designed in a way to get you to spend money that you wouldn’t otherwise, or to buy things you wouldn’t just because they are cheaper. At the same time, however, the stereotypes and stigmas around coupon use make people who use coupons frequently, or try to use several on a single purchase of goods, out to be cheap and thrifty, willing to argue over the price of a few pennies and feeding into the materialism that the store hopes to inspire. Such perceptions may be rooted in materialism themselves, as the amount of disposable income one has is a sign of position in society. This sort of attitude, again, relates to classist ideals of the importance of monetary worth.
Considering all of these discussions around the use of coupons, I find that they do not usually affect my spending habits. As someone who does not have a great deal of disposable income, I am not usually likely to shop unless I have a specific need for something; therefore, discounts on items that I had not planned on buying already would not appeal to me normally. It may be that should I come across something I like and see that it is discounted, I would buy it, but I do not generally plan my spending habits around discounts. I am very waste-conscious, and I do not intentionally buy anything that I do not plan on using, so buying a certain quantity of something in order to get another or to get a discount would not appeal to me either. At the same time, I am aware of the importance of these kinds of money saving tactics for those who have a greater need to save. The general attitude around coupons, in my opinion, may be rightly cynical, but it would serve better to question the intentions of those who create these deals in the first place, not those who might take them up, and to not judge those who find them appealing solely on a notion of “cheapness” derived from unrealistic expectations of what an average person can comfortably spend. To me, coupons do not generally present an appealing choice, but I cannot say for certain that this will always be the case, or that it always is even currently.
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