“You can’t buy something unless there’s a coupon for it” was how we learned to shop. My mother was a beginner at coupon buying at that time. I was taught that if I wanted something, I could not buy it unless there was a coupon for it. Several times I faced defeat for not finding a coupon on an ice cream bar or some pack of candy. Sometimes, though, we get lucky and get coupons for more than just groceries. Sometimes we get a coupon for a new video game at GameStop or clothes at Old Navy.  My parents usually took me grocery shopping with them and I remember hating it because it would take us, what felt like, hours to finish going through the whole store and deciding what we were going to buy and figuring out how much we were saving. Although time is money, we save more buy taking our time and finding the better bargain with coupons.

Coupons help make a better deal, especially those of us who have a limited income. With coupons I have seen my mother buy six shampoos for the price of one. With coupons I have had a school outfit picked out and bought for less than twenty dollars. In a sense, yes, coupons do influence what I buy. Why would I go to just any store and buy, knowing I can get a better deal if I have coupons? We do not just buy and save solely on coupons, however. We tend to match coupons with specials, or saving deals offered at the store. Say, for example, cereal is on sale for buy one get one free; we would use a dollar off coupon and buy a cheaper price for one and still get the second free. When shopping for the deal, it is better done with coupons.

This method of bargain buying not only helps the consumer but also the manufacturer. When there is a coupon available for a new item it opens a window of opportunity for the consumer to try a new item without having to jeopardize too much money. Then if the consumer likes the item they are most likely going to buy it again and keep using it, maybe even recommend it to other people. So coupons not only aid the limited income buyers but also the company distributing the coupon.
Using coupons is not a skill that just anyone can use effectively. It takes time, effort, and strategy to be able to get the most savings out of couponing. The time needed to look through, cut, and organize all the coupons that were received or collected is long and tiresome. Then using that time to match the coupons to special deals or just any store in general is another bunch of minutes added. The effort needed to find the coupons bundles, cut them, and then make sure not to lose them requires much attention to detail. The strategy used in matching which coupons to which store and deal requires much math. Anyone can present a paper and get a dollar off, but the people who really save use all these abilities to save a lot and earn the better bargain. At the end all these efforts pay off, I guess that is why my mother refers to coupons as “her happiness”.

Even to this day, while getting ready for my first year in college we looked and bargained using coupons. It was especially scary since we had no idea what to expect, and because I am the first in my family to attend college, the bills especially scared us. It made us wish there was a coupon for college tuition. That is why we have scholarships. With coupons I was able to buy some of my textbooks for half off and my utensils for less than the expected amount.

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As a young girl my mother taught me the value of saving and being a smart shopper. Growing up, I enjoyed the benefits of shopping with coupons. I was able to learn organization, time management, math and budgeting. It is ok to buy without coupons but why waste more money, maybe lose an opportunity at a better product, when you have a better bargain with coupons.