It has always been said that everything comes at a price, and in today’s economy, that couldn’t be more true. With gas prices creeping up to and over $4.00 per gallon and a simple checkup at the doctor’s office costing upwards of $100.00, there’s no wonder why many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Some have to hold two, three, sometimes even four jobs just to get by; others sell everything they have in their homes just to be able to keep a roof over their heads. While my family is fortunate enough to not be in these dire types of circumstances, money is still an issue. One thing that has helped us, though, is using coupons.

A note from us at I’m In: Let us help with the savings – search our store directory before you shop!

We aren’t the type of people to spend frivolously when we know there are things that we need. With that being said, if we are able to time the use of our coupons right, we can often stock our pantry full of non-perishable goods and foods we know we will use for less than half of what we would have paid without. Before we started couponing heavily, we had our brands that we liked, usually the more expensive ones, and we didn’t like to buy generic or lesser-known brands. Now, if we know we can get what we need at a lower price, we are open to trying different brands and have learned to be less picky about them.

Coupons aren’t limited to groceries; sometimes in the mail or online, there will be coupons for retail clothing or department stores that offer a percentage off or a free gift with purchase. While I would like to be able to go out and spend money just to be able to take advantage of the deal, I know where I stand with my finances and I pick and choose carefully. If I know I am going to need a dress for an occasion, I might use a “30% OFF” coupon from a department store like Macy’s rather than blowing my hard-earned money on the “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!!” leggings from Forever 21. While coupons are enticing with their aptly-worded slogans, they do not influence me to just throw my money away on things that I don’t need. The timing of the coupons may influence where I choose to purchase something that I need, but not influence me to forget that I do, in fact, have something that my money would be better spent on.

I have also received in the mail and through e-mail coupons for restaurants. Sometimes they claim to give a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree, and sometimes they offer a free lunch when another lunch is purchased. Again, while the prospect of getting something for free or at a reduced price is tempting, a coupon is not going to influence me to spend money that I am not able to freely spend. If I am already planning on eating out, then a coupon might convince me to choose to eat at Outback rather than Ruby Tuesday, but if I can not afford to eat out then the coupon will most likely just end up in the trash or given to someone else. I do not wish to get myself into a financial mess because I decided to eat out a few times just because a slip of paper said I could get a free appetizer with my dinner purchase.

In short, while coupons are enticing and tempting with their carefully worded cues and offers that trigger that little bit of greed in us all, they do not hold enough power over me to cause me to spend money that I do not have to freely spend. They might influence where my available funds are spent, when I have a need for something, but they do not control my wallet. Still, as far as the necessities such as food, toilet paper, and toothpaste go, coupons are a wonderful resource for saving money no matter what your financial situation.