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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Janine B.

A lot of you probably don’t realize it, but you see them everywhere: coupons. You are familiar with them; they devour space in your email’s inbox, not to mention those spewed into your spam mail, they pile up in your post box, they flutter as a lengthy paper tail at the end of your receipts at the grocery store. Me? I don’t give them a second thought, usually. Sometimes I will stumble upon one for my favorite store, but the closest thing to use it might find is being stashed in my wallet until its expiration date has long been past.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save on groceries and get great deals at your favorite stores at I’m In!

So, do coupons influence my purchasing decisions? I would like to say no, but that question is one to make me wonder. Why am I so disinterested in coupons? The truth is, as I delve into the neglected and unexplored parts of my mind, I’m not. I love receiving that fat, juicy, seventy-five-percent-off-your-entire-purchase coupon to Aerie, Anthropology, or Garage (forgive me, but I am an eighteen-year-old girl). That is a great deal, and of course my wardrobe could use some freshening-up…

But I am an impossibly busy lady. I am a student, an athlete, and a member of the workforce. When I’m not at school or doing schoolwork, I am at swim practice or at work, so finding time to shop can be a hassle, not to mention finagling a shopping spree before the expiration date flies past me with speeds of preposterous magnitude. Let’s just cut to the chase—coupons have very little to do with what I decide to buy, because, when it comes down to it, they are inconvenient. I don’t have time to shop, and coupons, though they have the potential to save some cash, certainly do not save any time.

Now the aforementioned is something to which some of you all out there can probably relate, but it’s not the be-all, end-all truth. “Couponing” is a delicate art that few have mastered, but those of who have been successful in their endeavors have saved thousands of dollars on you-name-it

It requires a certain brainpower to “coupon;” there is certainly strategy involved. It’s less of an “ooh! I have a coupon for that, I think I’ll but it” sort of thing, but more of a game of fortune: you have to be careful in your planning and prediction to use your coupons effectively, especially when it comes to the all-important foodstuffs. You need to think to yourself, “Do I really need this? When will my family and I eat this? How many meals can I make with this? Does it store well? Is it healthy? Can I save even more when I buy this with another product I need? How can I use this before the expiration date? Does this deal have and expiration date?” In an age where many of us are finding ourselves in financial collapse, couponing becomes a lifestyle. Consumable goods—food, bath tissue, soap, cleaning supplies, baby supplies, clothing, medications—are all crucial to making a healthy and sanitary life. In certain situations, coupons can be lifesaving.  I admire those thrifty fellows who know how to save a penny on what they need, and I wish, on occasion, that I could share that skill.

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

Alas, my schedule should not allow me to peruse such a knack.

Let me spin this around a bit, and ask a question to whomever might glance upon this essay. How is it that one could make coupons more accessible—more user-friendly? Is there a way to create a new species of coupon that suits lifestyles synonymous to mine? If so, coupons could become an extremely powerful tool for companies and business owners to advertise their goods and services and appeal to a much larger public. Perhaps coupons don’t currently lure me to buy any products, but the acknowledgement of their advantages and disadvantages encouraged me to buy some food for thought. And perhaps the next generation of coupons could save me, oh, maybe a thousand dollars in college tuition?

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