Have you ever seen that coupon-ing show? You know, the one where all these people spend entire days going through thousands of coupons, and somehow they manage to get all five carts of groceries for free when they go to the store? If you have, then the answer to the question, “Do coupons influence purchasing decisions?” should be obvious. Yes! Who on earth needs six hundred rolls of toilet paper and twenty five bottles of mouthwash at one time? When I go to the store, I’m not thinking, “I need to buy eighteen packs of gum and twenty cans of shaving cream.” I’m thinking, “I only need one can shaving cream, but the gum is only ninety-nine cents!” So do coupons influence my purchasing decisions? Yes, but only to a certain extent. I am a broke college student after all.

Coupons often say things like, “buy one get one half off,” or “get one free when you buy three,” or even just plain, “save fifteen cents”. Coupons help save money, it’s true. But they also influence people to buy way more than what they need. For example, if I had a coupon that said, “Buy one gallon of milk, get one free,” I would be influenced to get another gallon of milk. Do I need it? No. Will I finish both gallons before they expire when I live alone? Probably not.

What’s more, I am a cat lady. I have two of them, and I always buy the same brand of litter. I like it. It’s smells fresh and clumps well. However, I had a coupon for a five dollar box of litter of a different brand, and I usually pay twelve for the brand I like. But the savings were too much to ignore, and I bought the five dollar box. Did I like it more than my regular brand? No, it was terrible, yet I was influenced by the coupon because I wanted to save money.

A note from us at I’m In: McKenna saves money for her pets and you can, too!  Search our pets coupons to find great savings.  

Humans are frugal. Even the rich ones. Any opportunity for a deal, and we pounce on it. So of course coupons are going to influence our buying decisions. Whether it’s a good influence or bad one should be the real question.  “Well, I received a coupon in the mail for a dollar off of this hair dye; guess I’m dying my hair!” Sure, let’s ruin our naturally pretty, silky hair with some cheap, chemical filled dye that will fry it, just because we have a coupon! I would, because I always tend to dye my hair and hello? It’s a dollar off!

Imagine a world where coupons didn’t exist, and people were forced to buy items at their original sale price. No one would buy eight tubes of toothpaste, unless they were at Costco. As frugal as we humans are, we would go to the store, buy exactly what we need—and maybe that pack of gum or candy bar—but nothing else. There would be no influences like coupons to make us think, “I only need one, but if I buy two, I get the third one free.” We would buy the one item, because that’s all we came for. That’s how I tent to be already. I don’t go looking for coupons. Maybe sometimes, when I get them in the mail, or see them in the student handbook, I look through them, just in case there is anything useful. As in, stuff I need, not just stuff I want because there is a coupon.

Coupons have their benefits of course. Those people on the extreme coupon shows can get their grocery bill down to zero, which will be something that never ceases to amaze me. I use coupons and I save five dollars max. I know that in the long haul, buying more of something, especially if a coupon gives you the extra item for lesser value, or for free, will save you money, versus if you just went with buying the one and then had to come back and buy the other at the same price later. That’s where coupons are helpful, and that’s where your wallet will be thanking you. Yet for some reason, I can never bring myself to spend more money. Like with my cat litter. I could buy the giant box that costs twenty-something dollars, which would save me time and money for when I run out again, but when there’s a smaller box that costs less, my instant reaction is to spend the lesser amount. Hey, I never said I was a genius.

Coupons influence all kinds of people’s purchasing decisions. Some—who actually don’t ignore all the free ones sent to them in the mail—more than the others, like me. Coupons make me stop and think about whether or not it would be worth it to save the money and buy more than what I need, or if it’s worth spending more than I wanted to in order to get free items out of it. For those who can go in a store, fill their cart to the brim, and only pay twenty bucks or less, I commend you. But I’m not one of those people. I go in, buy what I need, make use of a coupon or two if it saves me money and doesn’t require me to buy more. Then I pay, and I leave. But everyone is different, and coupons cater to everyone’s different needs.