Snipping savings: The merits of discount shopping
A coupon-clipper’s guide to frugal buying
April 11, 2017
Filed under Op-ed
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Buying groceries or other daily necessities can definitely add up, especially for a college student with limited funds. However, there is one way to cut costs that most people don’t take advantage of, and that is using coupons.
For the purpose of this article, a coupon will include any physical coupon, online rebate or in-store discount card. While we typically think of coupons as physical pieces of paper, there are so many ways to save money, and it’s a waste not to take advantage of them. Hopefully this article can help you to save some money when you go out shopping.
The traditional method of saving is the paper coupon, which can add up for some impressive savings. I’m not suggesting that you drop everything and become an extreme couponer, as that’s a time commitment I can’t rationalize in any world, but subscribing to a website that sends you weekly updates for coupons won’t hurt.
A few places to get these coupons include: coupons.com, grocerycouponsnetwork.com and BeFrugal.com. These websites allow you to select coupons that interest you, “clip” them and then print them up to use in store. Each of these sites boasts having almost $600 worth of savings available every day.
Another way to find these physical coupons is to check the newspaper; while newspapers aren’t as common, it can be an excellent place to find savings. The last way to obtain physical coupons is to search for free samples. Many companies that send out free samples are likely to also provide coupons as well in order to persuade you to buy the product.
Beyond just the physical coupons, online rebates are a fantastic way to earn money back for all of your purchases. The two sites I would recommend are Ebates and Honey. Both have a Chrome extension and are super easy to use.
Ebates works by giving you rebates on certain websites when you make purchases online. Once the order is processed, Ebates will you give you a percentage of that purchase back which you will receive as a check at the end of their scheduled time period.
Honey works by searching the website you are on for available codes that you can enter upon checkout for savings. Not only does Honey find you any applicable coupons, it offers a cash back program, though it is less extensive. Combining these two sites is a nice way to save money and get a rebate on what you spend. Even though it may not save you a lot of money for every individual purchase, I am a firm believer that even small savings can add up.
The last way I suggest to get some savings is to apply for in-store cards. I’m not suggesting that you open a store credit card, but many stores now offer loyalty cards. A few places that do this are: Rite Aid, Hot Topic, Kohl’s and A.C. Moore. These stores offer rewards programs that earn you points as you spend and reward you with savings. Since all of these cards are free and can be cancelled at any time, it makes no sense to turn them down.
At Rite Aid, for example, the Plenti card not only gets you whatever the discounts are in the store that day, but you also accumulate points that can be used to pay for purchases later. Cards like this are incredibly useful, especially for buying necessities like shower supplies and medicine. Shopping using these cards can save you an arm and a leg when you go to checkout.
As a college student with limited funds, it is important to take advantage of every savings opportunity that you can get your hands on. Saving money through coupons is an easy way to stretch out your latest paycheck and as those savings add up, you will have more opportunities for the future.
Caroline Remelius is a first-year student majoring in marketing. She can be reached at [email protected]