At any given time of the day, i’m sure one could turn on TLC and watch a few episodes of Extreme Couponing, and while the coupon extremists are making money off of being on the show and the several hundreds of coupons they clip each week, what about the Average Joe college student trying to save a few extra bucks here and there? Where’s our show?
In my “U by Kotex” post, I briefly touched upon using coupons, but today I really wanted to talk about it. Sure, you can clip coupons until the cows come home, but how effective really are they? Let me tell you, very. As a CVS employee, I have customers who come in every Sunday, pick up the new flyer, and come back later in the week to rack up the savings, extra bucks, coupons, and so on. After a few weeks of watching this, I figured I’d try it for myself. Mind you, I don’t take home the circular every week and plot my attack on the CVS shelves, but I do scan my card at our coupon center at least once per week, and they help, trust me! About 2-3 weeks ago CVS was giving away a single roll of Just the Basics brand paper towels, and the week after we were giving away CVS/pharmacy brand acetaminophen, which in lay-mans terms is essentially aspirin. Because CVS takes expired coupons, I had a group of college students, maybe mid-20s come in on Friday, and “buy” those two things alone, each of their balances coming to $0.00. I also believe one of them had a few extra bucks (essentially a gift card CVS gives out quarterly, and weekly for certain products), so he bought some other stuff using those, and only had to pay a few dollars.
I’m not trying to do a CVS commercial here, I’m just explaining how I started my coupon journey, and for me, it was easiest to start somewhere I already spent at least 16-25 hours at every week, using coupons I explained countless times a week.
Anyway: the most commonly heard phrases by any cashier is “UGH! I had coupons and I left them at home!” and “Do you have any coupons I can scan?”. Really. Ask anyone in retail. So my first tip is to plan ahead. If you definitely know you’re going to be buying something, or know you’re going somewhere, Google “coupons (insert store/product/brand)” and print some out. It takes less than 10 seconds, and you can end up saving quite a bit.
Second thing, do a little research on certian products before buying them. Obviously we all experience product affinity, which for all you non-comm majors is getting attached to a specific brand (Apple will always hold a special place in my heart), but is the product you’re buying time and time again worth it? Is there a product/brand out there that doesn’t fall apart every 12 months? Probably. Use consumer reports and figure out the best product for you.
Third, keep coupons on you. Your purse and backpack most likely have a smaller bag in them anyway, might as well have one for coupons.
Fourth: sign up for memberships that companies offer. CVS ExtraCare is a great example. Since you need an account to get the sales anyway, you might as well sign up and earn ExtraBucks on top of it. Sure we can just scan the Universal Card we have on our register, but you might as well just take the 2 minutes it takes and fill out the form.
Lastly, shop at and eat at places that offer a student discount. If you’re from Providence, there’s dozens! I recently ate at a little pizza/sandwich place in Wayland Square called Minerva’s that offer a 10% student discount with your ID, and it was DELICIOUS. A co-worker of mine, my manager, and I all ate for $22 and change simply because I noticed a small blurb on the front of the menu that mentioned it.
I should probably go now, I’ve got some work I should do while I’m at the library. Contact me about the friend codes for your Graze nibble boxes so you can get two free boxes (I only have 3 left!) and follow me on Twitter (@SuperKatieJean) and on Instagram (superkatiejean). Don’t forget to tell me about the free stuff you’re getting and the money you save!