Early Sunday morning, Dad and I venture to the store for the week’s groceries. Upon entering the brightly lit supermarket, the delicious smell of freshly baked donuts fills the air. I turn to my dad with a question in my eyes and a smile on my face. “If we save more money than last week, we’ll get one”, dad promises. Armed with our lists, coupons and loyalty card, we began our weekly game.

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The coupon was a shopping staple growing up. While grocery shopping was a chore to a child, once dad turned it into a game to see how much we could save, I was hooked. Keeping track over several months, the savings paid for family vacations we would not have been able to afford otherwise. We would frequent the discount markets and only buy items that were on sale and had a coupon. Chore or game, clipping coupons was a necessity to feed all of us. It was a strong lesson learned that followed me into adulthood.

As an adult, this coupon tradition continues in my household; however, the game has changed markedly. The face of coupons changed as mobile technology became mainstream. Suddenly, there were coupon databases, ecoupons, discount codes and enhanced loyalty card features. Best of all, no longer limited to processed, unhealthy foods, coupons were venturing into the organic arena. While not something that was taught growing up, I have embraced the organic revolution and narrow my couponing to that end. The good feeling from supporting non-GMO companies and their products resonates with my goal to lead a healthier lifestyle. However, as many organic options are pricier than the non-organic ones, coupons are even more important. Searching through the plethora of discount options for high quality food and household products is still part of the game of my childhood, only expanded.

In addition to household needs, collecting coupons has opened up yet another way to save: super couponing. Made famous by a television reality show, super couponing stacks multiple discounts to get things for cheap or even free. I sometimes use this form of couponing to buy bulk food and personal items to donate to homeless and pet shelters. It is a way to give back to the community that helped my family all those years ago.

Before a trip to the grocery store, I peruse the usual coupon sources. If what I’m looking to buy does not have a coupon available, I usually do not buy it until on sale. In that respect, coupons definitely influence what I purchase. However, some things I use never have coupons; those items I purchase anyway. I really feel like organic companies should push more coupons. It would increase the availability of organic options, support local growers and allow more people to follow a healthier, more earth-friendly diet.

With tougher economic times, the coupon has become even more important in my household. No longer the game from my childhood, it’s now a necessity to save while still maintaining my specialized diet for greater health. Overall, the coupon heavily influences my buying options and assists me in saving money for greater things.