The Power of the Money-Saving Illusion

An economics professor once opened up class stating that the economy itself was what the economists made it be, and if they said that we were falling into a recession, people would behave just as if we really were going into a recession – they would hold onto their money like their life depended upon it. Economics itself is the study of people and how they will react if a price fluctuates, or if a certain market opens up. The economy is an illusion, similarly to the coupon. Coupons are released in millions, and by personal observation, they only save the user a few cents per item. However, there are shows that display savvy people making the most of the coupons, and working the system, to be able to really get a great discount, upwards of 80% off the retail price. Often times, there are coupons for certain items only, and the coupons that come out for the necessity goods are often times of a small amount, because the public still has to buy that item, because it is crucial to their routine. In one hand, there is no harm in using a coupon on something that would have ended up in the shopping cart anyway and the user saves a couple of extra dollars. Coupons are not, in anyway, bad. They are a sort of subsidy for the people, allowing them to buy things at a lower price. If I happen to have a coupon for an item that I need, and the savings are substantial, there is a great possibility that I’d let the coupon influence my shopping habits. However, as I’ve noticed throughout the years, as I have become more independent, making my own money, doing my own purchases, I do not go out of my way to look for coupons unless the item is anything relating to technology, because technology is very pricy. In theory, the savings of bigger priced items are better, but you are really saving the same percentage as if you were buying a smaller item, only the difference in price is greater, and thus, there is a greater illusion of savings. This is why I’d advice anyone to not buy anything just because they have a coupon for it, of if there is a sale, unless they would have bought it anyway without the sale going on. That way, the savings are real, because you were prepared to pay the retail price, but ended up spending less than that.

Since I am a college student, I do find that my money is tight, because I am not able to work as many hours as I used to. I go out of my way not to spend money if I can help it, and I have found that using coupons is a helpful way to keep in check. However, couponing is a very time consuming art. Coupons have all sorts of regulations, and restrictions, and sometimes, it is much harder to shop using coupons. I would personally commend the “Extreme Couponers” that get a lot of product for only a minimal fraction of the cost. However, coupons are an illusion of savings. The time put in finding coupons can sometimes not be as worthwhile as just taking on an extra shift at work. It can be seen in shows like the “Extreme Couponing” show in TLC that the coupon experts make it their sole job to find, collect, and research coupons the entire day. One must wage their losses and profits, and see if there is a sort of balance. For my type of life, couponing would not be profitable if I had to intentionally look for coupons. My grades, my social life, my career would suffer if I misused my time, and in the end, it would not do me much good. I recognize that I have used extreme examples, but, for a college student, time is golden. In all, while using a coupon here and there helps keep the wallet moderately heavy, it is not something I personally stress over.

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