I am sure that most of us have seen or at least heard of the popular TLC Reality T.V. show “Extreme Couponing”. In this show, certain individuals are taped while they are couponing. They spend the majority of their waking hours cutting out and organizing coupons into folders and binders. Some go as far as dumpster diving just to find papers with coupons in them! They make long trips to their local grocery stores and buy thousands of dollars’ worth of goods. The catch? When they get to the cash register and end up only paying anything as little as 50 dollars. Who wouldn’t want to spend all of their free time couponing, if you are getting the majority of your goods for basically free? Well, if you take a peek at the contents of their carts, you will see that they have fifty rolls of paper towels, or thirty-eight Gatorades. Bringing home all of this stuff, no doubt you are going to have to find somewhere to put it all. This is when the show virtually brings you back to their house and they zoom in on their “stock piles”. For some people, this is their lifestyle, and they love it. I guess I would have to differ from them in this way. Coupons do not influence what I buy when I am out shopping.

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When I am flipping through the newspaper or a magazine and come across coupons, there are a few different factors that I look at before deciding to rip a few out or not. First off, I look at what it is advertising. Is it food or clothes? These are the two most common type of coupons. Secondly, am I really saving any money? Often, when you hear that a clothing store is have a sale, you go in there and they have hardly even lowered the price. But by telling you that the price is lowered, even if it is just by a dollar, they are tricking you into thinking it is a bargain. Buying something that is on sale rather than on full price makes it automatically more intriguing, as well as lowering that feeling of buyer’s remorse. And thirdly, is it something that I actually need or that I will use? When I am flipping through coupons for food, it might say something such as ‘buy one get one free’. Well, do I even eat or cook with this product in the first place? If the answer is no, then why would I need not one but two of this item?

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I have noticed that typically, flipping through coupon books, it is not the basics or pantry necessities that they are offering for lower prices. It is hardly ever produce, milk, eggs or bread, but usually the extra things that are just fun to eat. Knowing I was going to write on this topic, I actually went and picked up a little coupon book, just two papers front and back. It offered discount prices on foods such as raw cookie dough, and Oreos. It had a coupon for buy one get one free for Pop-Secret popcorn. It is usually not the foods that you need that are on sale, but more the foods that are bad for you but taste very good. We already are tempted to by comfort foods when we are walking down the aisles and pass them, but add a coupon to it, and you are saving money as well! This is why I do my best never to impulse buy. I try to walk into the grocery store with a complete list of everything I need or want, and walk out with nothing more. On top of that, I also never go grocery shopping when I am hungry or haven’t eaten in a while. I always go through coupon books, but I only cut out the ones I know I need. I skip the ones that are directed toward fun junk food.