Why do you use coupons? Do you enjoy putting your coupon "earnings" aside for the fun things in life, like leisure activities or vacations? Are you saving to pay for your children's education, or are you using coupons to stretch an already tight budget?

It's been quite a few years since I shared my own couponing story in this column. In 2006, we learned that we were going to have another baby. My then-youngest child was a few months away from turning two years old, and I quickly realized that we'd have two children in diapers simultaneously once the new baby came.

What got me into couponing? It was the diapers. They can be expensive! I thought, "If I can just learn to save money on diapers, it would help our budget." I quickly learned that not only could I save money on diapers, I could save on many other household items.

Over the next two years, I became very adept at matching coupons to sales and learning to stock up when prices were cycling low. In 2008, family and friends asked me to teach a coupon class at our local library. That first class exploded in popularity (162 people signed up, our library's previously highest-attended program was 30 people!) and overnight, I found myself with a new job. Speaking requests poured in, and in October of the same year, I was offered the opportunity to write a syndicated column, the one you're reading today.

Couponing is my passion, but it's also a way of life. It has sustained my family through times when money was very tight, and it helps us have more money for the special things in life: day trips, vacations, a night out at a favorite restaurant. We have more money to pay for our children's educations (and with a daughter in college, I'm especially grateful for that.)

I'm always interested in hearing what drives people to begin couponing. It seems my readers are curious too:

Dear Jill,

Maybe it would help your readers as well to know why people coupon. There must be people who look for deals and try not to buy anything without a coupon: from groceries to cars, from clothing to trips, hotels, gasoline, everything.

People (who state they "need" coupons) need to remember that coupons are not benevolent gifts from manufacturers; they are advertising incentives to get people to continue buying a favorite product, or to try a new one. Companies hire advertising agencies to pitch their products and offer incentives to spike sales. The manufacturers continue to go after new customers, and people whose families have grown up and left home find themselves wishing for coupons on smaller sizes or fewer products.

Complaining about the lack of coupons "for those of us who use so little but need them to balance the food budget" will not work because it isn't the way to get new customers who buy giant boxes of cereal and washing powders.

The ads on TV are meant to make the manufacturer seem to care about our welfare. People need to view these and magazine pitches with a large dose of practical vision and understand it for what it is: advertising.

You have explained this concept well in your columns. But Americans are a hopeful bunch who love flimflam and hope it to be truth.

I'd like to see your take on why people coupon. I do it not because we can't afford to pay full price, but because I grew up in the late 30s through the 1950s, in a family still caught in poverty.

I learned to use everything, re-purpose what was left and not waste a nickel. Prosperity hasn't changed those ingrained lessons, and I still try not to be wasteful.

So, why do people coupon?

Mary J.

Let's explore this question together. Why do you use coupons? I'd love to hear your stories, and I believe my readers would too. Drop me a line at jill@ctwfeatures.com.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com.