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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Stephie W.

“Do I really need this?”, “I will just try it this one time”, or, “I just can’t pass up this deal!”, these are all thoughts that consumers can find tugging at the back of their brain as they stand in the center of an aisle at their local store and stare at a coupon, then look up at the price, then look down at the coupon again, and so on and so forth until they finally toss the item into their shopping cart. “Just look at how much I saved!!”, they excitedly shout at the end of their shopping trip. The total savings amount can be found neatly printed at the bottom of the receipt and it makes us, as consumers, feel good about our purchases. As we leave the store, our cart can be seen full of all name brand items that we have most likely never used before, most likely due to their ridiculous prices, and that we will probably never use again.

I believe that coupons absolutely influence purchasing decisions and that is what their producers intend for them to do. Manufacturer’s use coupons tactfully and it is easy for the consumer to over look the subliminal messaging behind coupons. It can influence a person greatly when they see large amounts of money offered off of an item with a coupon and they may not realize that the price of the item was increased recently. Because we all want to “save a buck” during our shopping trips, our decisions are easily swayed when we believe we are getting an item for less than it’s usual price. Coupons almost always allows us to save, or so we think they do. Coupons give consumers a feeling of satisfaction and allow them to believe they got a real “steal”. It is common for those who use coupons to buy items they have never used before because it was $2.00 cheaper with a coupon, however, the item is still typically more expensive than the brand they would have normally bought. I cannot say that I have not been found guilty of buying items, of which I know I really did not need, because of a coupon I had. There have even been times that I have found myself purposely traveling to a specific store just because I had coupons to use there. Many stores, in fact, will send out coupons just in order to get people to come to the store. Once the customers arrive, with their coupons, it can be common for them to spend more than they intended. This coupon tactic can also work by getting the consumer hooked on the product and they will then buy it even without a coupon.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save at your favorite stores at I’m In!

Another tricky tactic of manufacturers is that they often make coupons for items that are the smallest size or amount. If consumers are not careful about comparing prices and even the sizes of items, the coupons can actually cost  them more money. Sometimes coupons can make a popular item appear cheaper than a generic version, but a closer look at it can often reveal that the item is a much smaller size or amount and will not last nearly as long as the competing brands. This makes the so called “bargain” the consumer believes he/she is getting turn out to not really be a bargain after all.

Although coupons can really be worth using from time to time, it is important to consider whether or not you are saving, or just “feel” like you are. It is possible to be both a smart shopper, and a saver.  Seeing, “$3.00 off!”, or, “BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!”, printed largely across a coupon can really make it a difficult decision to pass an item up, but it is important to remember that not every coupon is worth the use, no matter how tempting it might be.

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