Couponing in College: Money-Saving Tips from College Couponers

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Couponing in College: Money-Saving Tips from College Couponers

College is a uniquely exciting time in our lives, albeit one we need to get through on a minimal budget! We at Dealspotr are well aware of the positive impact couponing can have on the average consumer’s budget, but we were surprised by how little the average college student seems to know about couponing and the impact it can have on their budgets and their lives. So we asked coupon-savvy college students to share their wisdom as it pertains to couponing in college as a part of our Couponing in College Scholarship Contest - and we received some amazing submissions.

First, we’d like to congratulate our scholarship winner, Kayleigh Warburton from the University of Virginia! Her essay “Couponing in College & Other Tips to Save Money as a College Student” offers 12 tips that any college student could apply to increase their budget, ranging from everyday tips on buying food or textbooks to more advanced couponing strategies such as combining and stacking coupons. Kayleigh will receive our $2,500 scholarship award and will be listed on Dealspotr’s Scholarship page in our winner’s circle. Congratulations Kayleigh! See past winners and keep up to date on our latest scholarship here.

Top tips for using coupons to save money in college

Picking the winner was very difficult, as we had so many amazing submission from college students around the nation. We’ve gone through and compiled the highlights from the amazing tips we received here.

Take advantage of stores that double coupons

Take advantage of stores who offer double coupons. {This is a thing… trust me.} During “double coupon week”, grocery stores like Harris Teeter will double a coupon up to $2. For example, if you have a $1 off coupon, it doubles to $2 off. If you have a $2 off coupon, it doubles to $4 off. It’s not rocket science, but it is a great way to get more ‘bang for your buck’ with the coupons you already have.

Read more tips by Kayleigh Warburton from the University of Virginia in Couponing in College & Other Tips to Save Money as a College Student

Use your .edu email address

A tip I didn’t even know until someone told me is that many local and national stores give discounts to students (they know we don’t yet have the skills – or degree – to pay the bills). All you have to do to receive these discounts is show your student ID or type in your .edu email address. Student discounts can help you save on things from clothes to travel. Even your cell phone plan may have a discount available. If you are curious where you can get student discounts, your answers are but a Google search away.

Read more tips by Caroline Spigner from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Couponing in College

Look for surveys on your receipts

Not only do receipts provide you with accountability for your spending, but many stores will give codes that unlock coupons online after taking surveys. Chances are if you have a receipt from a store, you will end up there again soon enough. Most surveys take less than ten minutes and sometimes the receipt alone can be used as a coupon. What’s there to lose?

Read more tips by Rachael Sproule from the University of Virginia in Nine Ways to Coupon

Setup a coupon binder for clipped coupons

So what do you do with all those saved and clipped coupons? You need to make a binder. This is a critical strategy that will bring structure and order to your shopping and couponing experience. You will need: 1. A BIG sturdy binder, 2. A cover page with contact info (just incase you lose it!), 3. Coupon pocket pages (you can find these at any office supply store), 4. Dividers- this is the key to the structure.

Read more tips by Kelsey Meusburger from Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coupons in College

Save on clothing using ValPak

With presence in over 40 states, Valpak is the nation’s source for mailed coupons. Valpak also has an online resource for e-coupons as well. Surprisingly, Valpak has several coupons and savings opportunities for popular brands such as Charming Charlie’s and Banana Republic! These fashion-forward brands aren’t always cheap, so using a source like Valpak to help shave a few dollars off your order always helps. Coupons and offers are based on location, so be sure to check out local offers on Valpak’s website. Also, keep a lookout for newspaper based coupons. These are similar in nature and many of them run in the advertisements in Sunday newspapers.

Read more tips by David Gardner from the University of Pittsburgh in The Art of Couponing to “Be Bougie”

Save at fast-food chains with college student discounts

Multiple fast-food chains also give discounts to students. ​Here’s a list of companies known for giving discounts to students

-Arby’s: 10% off meal
-Buffalo Wild Wings: 10% off meal
-Burger King: 10% off meal
-Chick-fil-A: free drink
-Chipotle: free drink
-Dairy Queen:10% off a blizzard or cone
-McDonald’s: 10% off meal
-Pizza Hut:10-20% off pizza
-Qdoba: free drink
-Subway: 10% off meal
-TCBY: 15% off yogurt
-Waffle House: 10% off meal

Read more tips by Emily Sherrill from the University of Arkansas in Couponing in College

Save on college essentials with Target’s Cartwheel app

Coupons are available for all kinds of products, ranging from food to furniture. Basically anything that any college student needs could have a coupon on Cartwheel. My most recent benefits from Cartwheel include 5% off yogurt, 5% off a broom and dustpan (I don’t know about you, but my roommates are messy!), and 5% off shaving cream. The savings may seem small, but they definitely add up, especially when you’re buying such a wide range of products. Sometimes you even see coupons 50% or 75% off, and that’s when things get really exciting.

Read more tips by Jessica Stumper from the University of New England in Coupons in College

Stack coupons at CVS

Each of these strategies can stand alone, but the real savings comes with stacking. For example, you can stack all of the following in the same transaction at CVS:

CVS store coupon
CVS rewards (Extrabucks)
Manufacturer coupon
Ibotta rebates
Find&Save rebate
Stacking discounts
Stacking discounts for maximum savings.

This technique is what creates the most prized goal for all couponers, the “money maker”. A money maker is when you have so many discounts on an item, that you actually “make money” off the purchase.

Read more tips by Kelsey Henry from UT Dallas in Couponing in College 101

Don’t forget the Sunday paper

Whether a student lives at home or on campus there are plenty of resources for coupons. The first place to look is in the Sunday paper. Sunday papers are available through subscription, the local stores, or possibly friend and neighbors. More coupons mean more savings, but the number of newspaper copies needed depends on the amount of storage space available to the student. If they live off campus then two to three copies are ideal. Students who stay on campus have less space and should stick with one to two copies. This is unless they are couponing along with others, which allows for more storage space.

Read more tips by Lativa Sanchez from the University of Phoenix in Couponing in College

Stack coupons by buying two Sunday papers

With Sunday coupons, I recommend you purchase 2 papers each Sunday. Why two? Because some stores (Publix, CVS, etc) allow you to apply two coupons to ‘buy one, get one free’ offers! Remember how I said the applesauce changed my life, it was because of that simple thing. With online printable coupons, you generally have the allowance of two prints of one coupon PER device. So depending on the site and what devices you have, that can play to your advantage.

Read more tips by Kristyn Matthews from Florida A&M University in It All Started with $0.80 Applesauce

Use store-specific apps

Most stores today have their own smartphone apps, which frequently offer exclusive coupons and savings. One example, Kroger’s “Free Friday” promotion, is what kickstarted my couponing. Logging into the Kroger app each Friday nets you a free food item, usually a $1 to $5 value. You then have three weeks to redeem the coupon, and savings come off automatically upon scanning your Kroger card, making it possible for a college student to walk out of a store with three free items in one visit. The best part is that claiming the coupon takes just a few seconds. Two of my friends have since signed up on their own, and they now enjoy anticipating the free Oreo thins, flavored water, or chicken pot pie for that Friday.

Read more tips by Caroline Braun from Indiana University Bloomington in Dealspotr Scholarship

Just ask for discounts

This leads us back to a very important principle mentioned earlier: if you aren’t aware of a discount, just ask for one (nearly everything is negotiable). For example, is there a discount for students; is there a discount for a certain organization that you or your family members belong to, (i.e. auto clubs, civic organizations, etc.)? There are many discounts that are not well publicized, but clerks will often disclose them to you. I have found that being friendly, joking/kidding around, and appealing for their help often leads to clerks going the extra mile to find you a discount. I have even had some that have extended their employee discount to me!

Read more tips by Joseph Ayers from Boise State in Strategies for Saving on Expenses in College

Read more great essays on saving money in college written by students around the country.

Staci Gann from Kansas State University:

Susan Finnigan from the University of Phoenix:

Blair Detweiler from Liberty University:

Breanna Costa from the University of Central Florida:

Olivia Seastrom from Howard Community College:

Franca Park from the University of California at Lox Angeles:

Yessenia Cortes from Mercy College:

Rachel Barsotti from the University of Phoneix:

Madeline Swartz from the Maryland Institute College of Art:

Stephan Alcorn from Colorado Community College:

Jesus Gomez from Aurora University:

Jaclynn Sullivan from the University of Toledo:

Chad Merrill from Husson University:

Karl Shedd from the University of Central Florida:

Bree Torrens from the University of Washington:

Solymar Arias from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas:

Kristy Peterson from the University of Phoenix:

Brooke Stacey from Brigham Young University:

Folashade Adewumi from Prince George’s Community College:

Marissa Maggs from the University of California at Los Angeles:

Noah Dobmeier from North Dakota University:

Yasser Lopez from Florida International University:

Katrina Woo from Academy of Art University:

Asia Williams from McDaniel College:

Jasmine Harding from the University of Central Floria:

Marcus Wilson from Stetson University:

Katelyn Constantino from Montclair State University:

Randa Brice from Iowa State University:

Kaitlin Kalbach from Central Piedmont Community College:

Marco Bonnani from Sacramento State University:

Adel Lee from Bellvue College:

Nattaly Velasquez from University of California at Los Angeles:

Gabriel Martinez from UC Davis:

Jacob Burgo from Montana State University:

Johnny Pham from Sacramento State University:

Michael Castaneda from the University of Central Florida:

Khayriyyah Atkins from Pittsburgh State University:

Keep up to date on the next scholarship contest here:

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This guide was published on April 6, 2016, and last modified on April 6, 2016.

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