I Prefer The Word “Economical”
If you’ve ever started a sentence “Oh, my God! There’s a sale at…”, then you know the thrill of buying things at a discount. Whether it be clothing, kitchenware, electronics or anything of the sort, we have all been in a position where lowered prices have caused excitement in us. Similarly, events like Restaurant Week allow us to experience fine class dining and evenings we may not otherwise have been able to afford on our budgets. Yet money-saving is by no means a new phenomenon: for millenia, marketgoers haggled merchants for fair prices on everyday items; in times of economic hardship, both the rich and the poor change their daily habits and yearly rituals in an effort to keep enough money in their pockets to be able to purchase the things they and their families really need; and, more recently, college-students, buried under heaps of student loans, have taken to frugality to lessen the pressure of the unsurmountable debt that awaits them. It is these and other reasons that have brought into the limelight the beauty that is the coupon. Coupons affect people’s grocery shopping habits to their vacations abroad, and everywhere in between. And I, a dyed-in-the-wool economical college student, am no exception.
Having gone to a fifty-plus-thousand-dollar-a-year school that my parents struggled to pay for, I quickly became away of my spending habits. Whereas I used to be embarrassed of my parents bickering with cashiers that “No, this was on sale for $3.99” or popping out coupons they clipped for items I thought were already inexpensive, I soon transformed into “that person”. Starting my freshman year in college, I avoided shopping, going out with friends and restaurants as much as I could in an effort to save myself money. (It was a miserable experience that I never wish on anyone.) Then, I began to look for student discounts on everything I could. They were wonderful, but unfortunately rare and short-lived. And then suddenly, websites like Groupon and Livingsocial began to appear and gain popularilty. Skeptical at first, I avoided them. But towards the end of my undergraduate career and into my working days, I began to rely on them more and more. Before I knew it, I was registering for fitness classes, going on city adventures and traveling to tropical locations with my family for steep discounts. I began to think even more differently about my purchases and what I could be doing with my life, rather than avoiding the outside world. It was exhilerating. Slowly but surely, the world of coupons took the wheel, and I was the passenger.
Last year, for example, an outlet for a department store I never had the money to shop at opened minutes from my home. I walked in one day out of curiosity to find two-hundred dollar cashmere sweaters for under thirty dollars, expensive designer shoes for under sixty, evening gowns well below their department store prices, and much, much more. I was hooked. I began shopping their regularly, mainly due to the coupons I would receive to lower their already low prices to something that would shock and amaze you. Text messages and emails indicating an extra ten or twenty percent off with my loyalty card meant I would be Christmas shopping early. For me who was just starting school again and my mom, the sole breadwinner of the family who was in between jobs at the time, it was truly a blessing. I even began to shop at my favorite stores only when I saw they had discounted items or if there were coupons available for them.
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For better or for worse, coupons have significantly altered my spending habit. Whereas before I would be satisfied buying a shirt on sale for twenty dollars at my favorite store, I now found buying anything for more than fifteen was difficult (when you get used to buying designer fashions for under ten percent of the original price, you too will understand). Similarly, coupons for events otherwise outside of my comfort zone have forced me to experience the world differently. Coupons have created a universe where amazing life experiences are no longer subject to the wealthier; they have allowed people like myself occasions to enjoy the pleasures of life while keeping to their budgets. This is a major reason I live for coupons, and why I believe others should too. Why pay full price when you can experience life for less?