When reading the requirements for this essay, I couldn’t help but think that this the perfect scholarship question for me. I am the epitome of a “bargain shopper”, and have been raised this way since I was very young. My mother used to say to me “if it’s not on sale, we don’t buy it! and this is a sentiment that I have carried with me throughout my life. Using coupons has practically become a game for me. I am often teased by those close to me how frugal I am, but my mentality is the more I can save on the things that I need to buy, the more money I have to spend on the things I want to buy.

I usually try to combine savings by utilizing the weekly ads at the retailers I frequent, cross-referencing with the coupons I may have, and then using any apps I have on my phone to further save money. For example, there are a handful of apps (Ibotta, ReceiptHog, etc.) that will let you upload your receipts for marketing purposes, and they will frequently give rebates up to and over a dollar an item. Combined with your sale savings and coupon savings, this can lead to a lot of money in your pocket. When shopping online, I make sure I utilize any cash back deals that my bank may be offering when using a registered credit or debit card, accessing retailers websites from an online rebate site (ebates.com), searching for online coupons and free shipping promotion codes, and finally, using any gift cards or other reward type certificates for retailer loyalty.

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Typically, if I cannot get a discount on an item, I will not buy it. Also, I will not pay shipping. My theory is that if the retailer wants your business, they can pay for the shipping. Why should you have to pay them when you’re doing them the favor of spending your hard earned money with their business? Also, don’t be afraid to ask for price adjustments. If I purchase an item, and find it on a deeper discount within a reasonable amount of time, I do not hesitate to go to customer service, call them, or send them a quick email addressing the situation. The worst they can say is “no”, and at best, you may earn a couple dollars back in your pocket.

The only time I am not as likely to use a coupon are the ones that are issued in the weekly newspaper or mail. This is more because I am not a fan of processed foods, and these coupons are geared towards prepackaged, unnatural, highly processed items. However, if there are coupons for hygiene items such as a specific shampoo that I use, shaving cream, razors, I would use these. Why not save the money on the things you are going to buy for your personal hygiene anyway?

In summary, coupons are another way to make the money you work so hard for go a little further. Why not reap the benefits of something that only takes a few extra minutes of planning, effort or time? As the old adage goes, time is money. So even if you save ten dollars for a couple minutes worth of work, that works out to a pretty decent hourly rate! Adopting a lifelong principal to save money and be a little bit more frugal not only makes you more appreciative of the things you have, but can lead to a more secure future, a bigger savings, or a better retirement. Not only are these things important, but if you are careful with your money, you are going to be more likely to try to stay out of debt, which will result in more money in your pocket and peace of mind. By utilizing tools such as coupons, you can spend your money where you truly would rather see it spent, whether it be planning a vacation, saving for a house, making that extra student loan payment, or just spending on something you truly enjoy.