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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-James Wo.

Do coupons influence my purchasing decisions? Yes, they do. The strange thing is that I don’t use them all that often. Maybe when I get a good one I bring myself to use it, but I don’t go searching for good coupons. To understand coupons you need to understand how they work. First they draw the attention of a product, and not only display it as a desirable product, but then offer that product at a discounted price. Who knows how many dollars each year are spent by companies advertising their goods or ideas, but we all know how annoying advertisements can be. Coupons, however, are a form of advertising that people seek out. They act as magnets, drawing people in with their discounts and then guiding them to the products that we may or may not have intended to buy. Let me propose a few scenarios that I have witnessed in my own life.

We’ve all seen the pages of grocery store coupons that come in the mail. Every time we look through them we see one or two items that we hadn’t thought about buying. By going through the coupon listing we see a variety of things that we enjoy but haven’t had for some time. Before I know it, we’re at the store buying all kinds of things just because we saw bananas were on sale.

The best kind of coupon out there is the one that get you something for free without any hidden conditions. Those are the kinds of coupons that I actually look for and use, because I feel safe that I’m not getting myself stuck with buyer’s remorse. The thing that I never thought about is how it gets me to test out a product that I might not have tried otherwise and really do enjoy or to sign up for something that I normally wouldn’t have signed up for. Take Redbox for example. I’m not one to put my email in all kinds of places to get bombarded with spam, but give me a free movie rental and I’ll do it! Now from that one free movie who knows how many I’ve rented since. That one coupon led to a loyal and frequent customer.

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The last example demonstrates the way that coupons make big spenders out of frugal people. I try to avoid spending large quantities of money, mostly because I don’t have them. But every once and a while, I convince myself that there is something expensive that is worth having. When I was younger one of those things was a nice tennis racquet. Normally it would be difficult to throw down $200 all at once, but that’s where the power of coupons plays a role. I remember distinctly finding a 10% off discount coupon for the very store that sold the racquet I wanted. I thought how perfect, its destiny that wants me to have what I want and it would be a shame to waste this perfectly good discount. That $20 may not have been THAT big of a difference maker in price, but a HUGE difference maker in the willingness I had to make the purchase.

Coupons have always been an interesting thing. Now I wouldn’t call myself a coupon person, but a good coupon can make a big difference in my spending habits. They keep me looking out for the things I want, and finding a good coupon is like finding a small treasure. It makes you feel good to have it and that good feeling makes you want to use it. The best part is when I use coupons it makes me feel good even after spending the money. Coupons can have a powerful influence on my purchasing decisions especially in the future. I know that I feel better buying with coupons so when I find one I want to use it. After using the coupon a buying pattern is set and a customer is formed. Coupons may not by themselves create customers, but they draw people in and affect the way we spend our money. I know this because they’ve affected the way I spend my own money. I can’t think of any other thing that can make spending money feel so good.

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