My crowning coupon achievement thus far was when I marched into my local CVS, selected a berry red Maybelline lip stick, and purchased it for $0.62, almost nine dollars less than the retail price. I can still recall the look on the cashier’s face as I handed him three coupons, two quarters, and a look of joy intermingled with a deep sense of pride. From that day on, I spend each Sunday rifling through my local newspaper in search of coupons; the day before each major shopping trip furiously searching the internet for the invaluable and highly-coveted 20% coupon; and the moments before placing an online order clicking on endless links in the hopes of coming across a free shipping code. So yes, some may consider me a coupon hoarder, a name justified by the multitude of coupons currently fighting for space in my wallet. However, couponing was not always an activity present on my radar. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment in time where my couponing skills developed and my lust for a few dollars saved began, but I can pinpoint the reason why I began to value saving my money.

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I was fortunate in that I grew up in a household where money was never an issue. If I needed a new box of crayons, or if I ripped my panty-house on my way home from school, my parents never flinched or furrowed their brow at the thought of spending a few extra dollars. Our cupboards were always well supplied with food, our drawers were always filled with clothes, and our lives were never plagued with the worry and fear that we would not have a meal on the table.  As I grew up and began shopping with my Mom, I always noticed that she never purchased anything at retail price. She would always shop the sales, bring a coupon, or compare prices in order to receive the lowest price possible. When I finally came to the age where I could begin purchasing my own clothes, my own movie tickets, and my own box of crayons, I kept in mind what my Mom unknowingly taught me and began to find ways to pay as little as possible for something I needed or desired. That is when I discovered coupons. I never paid much attention to the pages that were getting in the way of my Sunday comics as a kid, but I soon realized how valuable those slips of paper were. A dollar saved there, fifty cents here, and buy one get one free soon totaled a reasonable sum of money saved. When my friends complained that they purchased a t-shirt for thirty-five dollars, I would shrug and question them as to why they never looked for a coupon or waited until it hit the clearance rack. I know some people, such as my best friend, are embarrassed to use coupons—they view them as a big flashing light that reads “I Cannot Afford This at Full-Price.” To me, however, that flashing light reads “I Know How to Manage My Money and Shop on a Budget.” I am fortunate that, at a young age, I have learned how to save money and search for a better deal. Coupons are like the golden ticket inside a Willy Wonka bar—many do not think they will ever get a coupon and use it, but once they do, they enter a world of pure savings imagination.