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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Rachel K.

Coupons have always had a negative connotation for me, because of what I associated with them as a child. When I was a kid, I found it uncomfortable when my parents would cut out coupons on Sunday mornings. I distinctly remember watching my father go through the piles of advertisements with coupons for different stores, cutting out coupons for items and groceries that we usually needed. It was even more uncomfortable when we went to stores and my parents would happily hand over the coupons when the cashier asked if we had any. This process, however, has been changed dramatically over the last ten years with the advent of apps and websites with online coupons that allow this process to be much more discreet.

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As a college student, I do not often find myself using sites that have coupons but I am aware that it has become more and more common amongst people my age to utilize the websites that offer deals and coupons before purchasing. I think in terms of marketing, it is an intelligent design to offer such deals and coupons publicly, especially in a medium that people who are in younger demographics may be more likely to interact with on a normal basis. I also think that coupons have become more integrated in online shopping, from ordering a pizza to a new dress from a clothing store, and it is no longer separate from the actual purchasing of the goods.

I believe that coupons do not usually influence my purchasing decisions because when it comes to things I need, I usually just go into stores with a general idea of what the costs will be and budget accordingly. I imagine that if I were to do more research into coupons and deals prior to the shopping I do, I would likely be able to save some money here and there, but I also am wary of the danger that I think exists with looking at these deals. I think that there can be a tendency to justify excess spending if one has deals or coupons, and I have heard many friends and even my parents do just that. I have noticed this even in my own behavior in certain circumstances, such as ordering food online, when I am more likely to spend just a little bit more than I was planning, because there is a coupon or deal.

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As a student of psychology, I think there is legitimacy to this claim, because a sort of priming occurs through the availability of coupons. Because the coupons show a deal or a lower price than what is originally listed, whether the new price is truly a deal being a separate issue, people would be more likely to agree to spend money, thinking that they are saving money. The same applies to sale tactics in stores, and for this reason, I have always been slightly skeptical when it comes to using them. I imagine that this skepticism is a reason for other people who generally choose not to use coupons.

However, with all this being said, even though coupons do not generally appeal to me, partially because they were a part of my upbringing, I think the way that they have become more integrated into online and everyday purchasing has eliminated some of the stigma that I think used to be associated with them. Now, it is more seen as intelligent consumerism to check for coupons or deals ahead of time before spending money, and it also is not something that is relegated to members of certain socioeconomic classes, as I used to feel it was as a kid.  If more can be done to incorporate coupons into everyday purchasing, as they have started to be in the last few years, as well as more transparency about costs before and after coupons, I would be more likely to use them in the future.

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