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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Leevonne R.

“Okay, $3.78 for this dish-washing detergent… Wait how many ounces is this?.. Okay, okay, well I mean the generic wouldn’t hurt.. That $1.52 less than this one. Why does this have to cost so much when I’m pretty sure they’re made entirely out of the same ingredients.. Sheesh, why is everything so expensive? Maybe I’m being a cheapskate. No, no.. Nope, you’re growing up, Leevonne. Its time to be frugal.” This is an example of a common internal conversation I have with myself every two weeks in the cleaning product aisle at the Wal-Mart located down the block from my house when it comes time for me to household shop. I don’t know if anyone else struggles with this internal dilemma, but I know for me no stone is left unturned and if there’s a saving somewhere, I’m gonna find it. Fast forward another two weeks from now; same Wal-Mart, same aisle, same product, but a plot twist: a coupon for Gain Dish-washing Detergent. Now here’s how my conversation to myself might go: “I swear, nothing lasts long in this house. Like how many dishes do I wash a week? Ugh, whatever. Okay, okay, what do we have here? Ahh, a coupon for a $1.00 off your next Gain Dish-washing Liquid when you buy a 1.87 oz bottle, eh? Well, oh happy day for you Mr. Detergent because you are coming home with me tonight!” Too cheesy? Well, its honest. Instead of a fifteen minute conversation to myself with myself about what is the better bargain and how much I’m a broke, struggling college student, offering up a coupon instead would speed up the bargaining process making me feel like a confident and conscientious, responsible consumer. I mean, after all who doesn’t like a bargain? As for me, coupons influence my spending habits tremendously, and has a drastic effect on what I buy versus what I don’t buy. Even if its a product I don’t really need, I see a coupon and automatically that product becomes a necessity. Coupons influence me in ways that trigger my inner impulsive-shopper. And that may or may not be a good thing.

Why are coupons so appealing? Why will they always be the consumers’ America’s Most Wanted? Simple, because they help you save time, save money, stay organized, and stay on budget. And like I said, as a broke, struggling college student, those four things become your daily Four Commandments. We all know time is precious. Time waits for no man. Time is money. You know, the classic cliches we’ve all grown to love. But how precious is time anyway? And if time is money, then how much does it cost? Ask the broadcast journalism student that had a paper which was his final due nine o’clock in the morning but waited til 3’o clock in the morning to start it. Bet he figured out the true value of time when he crammed, failed, then had to pay to take that class again. In the world of the consumer, because we are always on the go, we need not take a bazillion years in our heads to determine if we really need the products we actually need because of price. Shopping (especially for things that cover our physiological needs such as water and food) should be as painless as possible. Painless in the wallet. And what easier way to achieve that than having coupons available at our disposal? In my world, time is not money. You can easily make up for missed profits but once you run out of time, its gone forever. But here in our capitalist society, we all know the value of the Almighty Dollar. Simply put, we all want to save. We want our money to be used as efficiently as possible; increasing our ROI’s and minimizing our losses. Coupons are a valuable resource in doing just that because for every coupon used is another dollar saved. On another note, budgeting and organizing go hand-in-hand. You can’t budget without being organized and it is imperative you learn organizational skills early on if you expect to stay on track when it comes to developing and sticking with a budget plan. Luckily, (again) coupons allow you to do just that. I know a pair of sisters that come to Publix every week with plastic-ware full of coupons, all organized by product/date/relevancy. By time they finish cashing all of their goods, their total comes out to about fifteen bucks even though its worth about two hundred dollars. Impressive? Surely. But what’s impressive about it is not the fact that it takes them what we would believe hours to sit and go through them [the coupons], but the fact that they have no shame in their game and do not mind going to Publix with a tub full of coupons because guess what, in the end they win. Fifteen dollars? Not bad, not bad at all. We could all learn something from that. Subtract pride, add coupons, multiply savings.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

Do coupons make me happy? Heck yeah. Do coupons influence my buyer decisions? You betcha. Do I dream about sitting in a tub of coupons basking in the aroma of savings and financial prosperity? Maybe. That’s a secret, can’t tell you. But what I will tell you is coupons/’couponing’ are a valuable and highly underrated form of consumer saving. And although we may see them and not think twice when we’re either showing them digitally on our cell phones or handing a hard copy out of a catalog to our cashier, they are vital part of society and without them our wallets would definitely notice. And that may or may not be a good thing.

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