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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Emily S.

Before I got my own job, the closet I came to cutting a coupon was watching Extreme Couponers. But now I realize how valuable a coupon can be to small budget. My parents are still providing for me, but now since I make my own income I realize how valuable their money is to our entire family, that’s why we’ve started clipping coupons when necessary. This has allowed us to maximize our budget and go out more to have family time.

Within the last year, I have discovered that I am gluten intolerant. Before this, my parents and I rarely shopped down the organic/gluten-free food isles. It was a shock the first time we took a stroll through the gluten free isle to find that a box of crackers was $8.00, loaves of bread being $5.00, and a container of cookies being $7.00! This is when I started looking up coupons from gluten free producers for gluten free products.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on food and restaurants at I’m In!

I figured out that many producers have coupons for free on their website and other websites have promotional coupons available monthly or weekly. If you subscribe to websites you can also get coupons emailed to you. When my family discovered the power of coupons and how they could save us money on products we carry in our house all the time, we looked more into finding coupons relative to our shopping list.

Unlike Extreme Couponers, my family only cuts coupons that we need for products on that week’s grocery list. By only buying products we need rather than buying products just because we have a coupon for them also saves us money. Yes, we have coupons stored up for groceries we may not buy that week, but those coupons do not determine what we eat or have around the house that week.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

For my family, coupons determine more or less what brands of products we buy. If we receive a coupon for a name brand product and it ends up costing less than a generic brand product, we will buy the name brand over the generic. In general my family uses coupons a “when needed” basis. If we are looking to buy a more expensive product (ex. Makeup or razors) we would look for a coupon regarding that product to see if we could get it for cheaper than retail value.

Coupons have also effected where we shop. Some local stores will double or even triple a coupon when we present it to the cashier. Because of this when we now use coupons we only go to certain stores to claim them depending on who will give us the best value for our coupon. This is important to my family because saving a few cents here and there all adds up in the end.

At one time, a group of women from my church would meet to cut coupons together. By examining the store flyers, online ads, and the coupons from that week’s paper, we were able to pair up the coupons and this allowed us to stock up on certain products for each individual’s home along with the church itself. It’s beneficial to have a group of people to coupon together because everyone adds different coupons and skills to the group to help maximize savings. This helped promote coupon purchasing in my family because we realized just how easy it could be to clip a few coupons to save a few dollars.

Overall coupons do effect my purchasing decisions; coupons allow me to buy necessary products at a lower price and they allow my family to live within our budget. Coupons have been vital to my gluten free diet, because without coupons I wouldn’t be able to eat the way I do and I would still be very sick like I was a year ago. Coupons go beyond the products we buy; they influence our budget, shopping stores, and lifestyle.

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