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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Kristina J.

Coupons: A Life Lesson of Passing the Buck or Taking the Deal

Coupons are a way of life; some people love them and others not so much. Some people financially need them, and others do not see the value. For me, however, they have made a large impact on my life ever since I can remember.

My mother has always been heavily dependent on coupons, and they have tremendously helped my family get by in difficult times. Growing up, coupons influenced where we shopped for clothes and got haircuts, which restaurants we dined at and what we bought at the grocery store. Our Christmas presents and birthday presents were based on coupons, along with vacations and orthodontists. My mother was a single mom throughout our childhood (my father tragically passed away at the age of 36), and she did a wonderful job raising my little sister and me. Her minimal wage income as a secretary was not enough and she was frequently anxious while trying to make ends meet. Coupons were a financial saving grace for my mother, and they helped her provide a better life for us.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save while you dine in your favorite restaurant!

I see history repeating itself because I am a single mother now just like my mom. My son is a couple months shy of turning two and he is my world; everything I do is for this little light of mine. I decided to make a career change because my job as a lab tech was not allowing me to provide a stable, financial future for my son. That is why I find myself here writing this essay on the importance of finding ways to make smart financial decisions in this economically uncertain world. I am 33 and have moved back home to live in my mother’s basement with my son while I go to school full-time for my RN nursing degree. Sometimes I get discouraged because it feels like I’m moving backwards since everyone I know has their own happy home, family and financial success. One positive light in all of this has been that moving back home has been a humbling experience for me, and I am reminded of the value in this experience… just like the value in coupons.

I’ve learned there is hidden value in everything that happens in life. Coupons may seem trivial to many people because the minimal value listed doesn’t seem worth the hassle, but they haven’t seen the value like I have. When I go to the grocery store and see an average savings of $30 just from my coupons it blows my mind to think many people are willing to pay full price and spend that much more for the same products. This value of savings is plain to see on my receipt, but there is additional value coupons offer and that is the importance of being a smart shopper. Many people currently struggle with money problems, and coupons would help them if they took advantage of the deals.

My mother actively used coupons as a tool to teach my sister and me how to be smart shoppers. This has been an extremely valuable lesson, and I feel very blessed to have a mother who taught us the importance of personal financial budgeting and being weary of unnecessary consumerism. I plan to teach my son this same important lesson of conservative spending early in his life. I see many young kids today (and their parents) who appear to have a sense of entitlement and reckless desire; it makes me wonder what kind of financial troubles they may experience later in life. I think some parents have ‘passed the buck’ by avoiding personal responsibility in educating their children on how to be smart shoppers. Passing the buck originated from the card game poker. A buck horn was a token that indicated whose turn it was to deal, and someone could pass the buck if they did not wish to deal. This analogy compares well to coupons and smart shopping. For those who do not use coupons, they pass the buck (including passing some extra bucks to the cashier!). Parents should teach their kids how to deal- not in a poker game, but in life with real money. It’s important to teach the next generation how to find value in the little deals this world has to offer; it will encourage an appreciative and thankful attitude, while providing greater financial stability. So please don’t pass the buck- take the deal!

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