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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Traci S.

Our generation’s urge for immediate gratification coupled with technology’s enablement of swipe-of-a-card purchasing is proving to be detrimental to Generation Y.  USA Today points out that 20% of Gen Y members have a total of more than $10,000 in credit card debt (Dugas).  This number is outrageous given the fact that Gen Y is also becoming known for its massive amounts of student debt and increasing unemployment rates.  I graduated college a semester early and still accumulated $17,000 in student loans, which is a fraction of what many others are accumulating.

I was aware of my financial situation throughout high school and college, and I was as conscientious as I thought was appropriate for someone my age.  I wasn’t a big spender, but I also didn’t pay much attention to the times that I did spend.  I rarely looked for better deals, and I often just bought the first thing that I saw.  It wasn’t until I got married, though, that I truly understood that every penny does count.

My husband and I were setting ourselves up fairly well when we got engaged.  We took a financial planning class during our engagement in order to have a grasp of what we needed to do to be successful.  One of the pieces of advice that the lecturer commonly said was to “tell your money where you want it to go, or else it will leave on its own.”  I passively listened to that, but when I found myself standing in the grocery store trying to figure out how to not break the bank on my husband’s light-speed metabolism, I realized that I needed to figure out where the money was going to go.  It suddenly seemed outrageous to pay full price on chicken, or to fork out $4.00 for a piece of fresh fruit.  Prior to being married, I would have swiped my card and never given it a second thought.

But then, Tuesday came.  Tuesdays are coupon days in our neighborhood!  I used to throw coupons away because they took too much time to peruse, but that habit came to a halt when I realized that every penny does count!  Ever since this realization, my husband and I have been using a cash system for our groceries.  We budget how much money we can spend on food that month, and we find coupons or sales to help us meet our goal.  Because of that, we’ve been able to stay away from the Top-Ramen lifestyle, and instead spend wisely on the healthy foods that we do like.  I meal plan around coupons, rather than using coupons as an “add-on.”  Once we move into a larger space, my goal is to use coupons more to our advantage by buying more of what the sale is.  We’ve learned the fine art of using coupons and then freezing what we won’t use immediately, and it has drastically changed our grocery bill!

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

The main reason that we use a coupon is so that we can be aware and save the difference.  We want to show our future children that purchases must be thought through carefully, and that mindlessly spending money should not be a habit.  We want to be able to say that we did everything in our power to save every dollar we could, while also living enjoyable lives.  In short, coupons influence our purchasing decisions because they encourage it to be just that – an active, consciously made decision – instead of a quick swipe-of-the-card.

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