From the time I was little girl, the day I looked forward to the most each week was Saturday morning. It would be the one day a week that my mom and I could go grocery shopping. I looked forward to this day with eager anticipation. We would go grocery shopping without my dad or my little brother. It was our time alone. A huge part of that precious time together involved coupons. I remember my mom using old lunchboxes and having the coupons sorted by category in white envelopes. I got to help her keep track of the coupons and the necessary items for each. She would use these trips as learning experiences. She would let me add & subtract prices. She taught me how to multiply by using double and triple coupons. She also taught me to estimate the total cost of the shopping trip. As I became older, she explained how to use the price per item or price per ounce to find the “best” bargain while using coupons. Because of these experiences, I still love to grocery shop and set aside each Saturday to continue our tradition. These trips always begin the prior Sunday when I comb through the Sunday newspaper to find and clip the coupons.
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Another huge influence was my grandpa. He was always looking for a bargain. This always involved coupons. From the time I was little, I remember my grandpa also combing through the Sunday newspaper for the coupons. He would explain to me how to use coupons, what it meant to double and triple coupons, and what stores would give you the best value for the coupons. Even when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2007, Grandpa still insisted that nothing be bought for regular price. He always insisted that we look for a coupon before going to the store. Whether it was for fast food or a local restaurant or just toilet paper, we had to hunt for coupon and shop at the store that would give us the best “bang” for our buck. I remember up until about two weeks before his death he was still looking for the coupons and comparing them to the grocery ads. Even though he was unable to shop, he would compose a list that I would dutifully fill by heading to the local stores. He would expect me to show him the receipts and a huge smile would cross his face when he realized how much money I saved as a result of using the coupons.
Today, the lessons I learned from my mom and grandpa stick with me. Whether it a coupon for free underwear or a reward coupon for being a loyal customer at one of a number of stores, my shopping habits are very much dictated by coupons. As a public school teacher, I do not have much extra income. I live paycheck to paycheck. Coupons help me survive financially. I choose brands and stores that offer coupons that when coupled with sales afford me the opportunity to purchase necessities. I am loyal to stores that offer reward coupons for items that I purchase frequently. Even if it means that I need to go to multiple stores to complete my shopping list, I will go to the stores that offer coupons and other incentives for shopping. I also choose to not shop at stores that have eliminated doubling coupons in favor of those that have continued the practice. I have even spent more money than I would have to meet the requirements of a coupon. This is usually because by my spending $5 or $10 dollars more, I can actually save $25 dollars or more than if I had not spent the extra money.
In today’s economy, families and individuals do not have the buying power they once had. Coupons have allowed me and others like me to still afford not only small luxury items, like pricey shampoos, but daily necessities, like bread, milk, and toilet paper. I clip coupons for not only myself but my co-workers. They have infants and need diapers, baby food, and diaper wipes. Without coupons, they would be struggling even more than they currently are. We look out for each other and share coupons as we come across them. Coupons are the life blood of our society. Without them, life would be nearly impossible.