A lot of people have seen the popular show Extreme Couponers on TLC, where people get hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for under twenty bucks. The audience is put on the edge of their seats as the cashier scans each coupon with a repetitive beep. As the bill steadily drops lower and lower, we as viewers are left wondering if we should take up the tedious task of couponing. I know that after I watch that show, I run to the mailbox to look for coupons that will save me money on shampoo that I do not particularly need. I envy those peoples’ basement stockpiles and wish that I could acquire seventy boxes of toothpaste for free.

I admire the Couponers that spend hours sorting, clipping, and calculating. With all the work that they put in, they deserve to save so much money. I aspire to be like them but lack the motivation. The best I have ever done concerning coupons was saving eleven dollars on a grocery bill of over two hundred dollars. If I were a real Couponer, it would be the other way around. I get very excited, though, when I have more than one coupon per shopping trip. My mother has put me in charge of looking for coupons; a job in which I fail at most of the time.

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When I do look for coupons in newspapers and online, I focus on products and brands that we usually buy. For example, my family only likes Tide laundry detergent and would not switch brands just to save fifty cents. For the most part, though, we are pretty flexible when it comes to trying new brands. When I get a high-value coupon, I am more likely to try a new brand than when I have a coupon that won’t make much of a difference.

Which coupons I end up using is also determined by my local store’s coupon policy. Contrary to most stores’ policies, where I shop, I cannot combine a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. This sometimes forces me to choose between coupons and affects my buying decision.

Coupons usually do not cause us to buy one product over another. For example, if there are Cheez-Its on our shopping list but the Goldfish have a coupon on the box, we will not trade the Cheez-Its in for Goldfish. Instead, we may get both. Ultimately this causes us to spend more than we intended but that is frequently the case. I find myself and my mother buying things that we do not need just because we have a coupon for it. Only occasionally do we actually have a coupon for something that is on the list.

Coupons do not dictate our shopping trips, and do not set in stone what we are to purchase. If we have a coupon, there is actually only a fifty percent chance that we will use it. In a lot of instances, we have brought a coupon with intentions to use it, only to see that the product’s price would barely be affected by said coupon. On the rare occasion that I get a coupon for produce or meat, it usually will be used. Since coupons for meat and produce are rare, we like to take advantage of them.

As I have detailed, there are a lot of factors that affect how and when we use coupons. I wish that I could be like the extreme Couponers but it is just not practical for my life. I like using coupons and saving money on things that I need, and occasionally on things that I do not need. There is a trill that comes from finding deals and saving a little bit of money every now and then. That pack of paper plates that I got for thirty cents makes me feel as if I have saved a hundred dollars. While I will never have forty boxes of cereal on hand, I am content with my couponing and only hope to use coupons more as I get older.