Couponing For College Students – Frugal Yakima Mom’s Tips
Recently I had a conversation with a good friend who is single and in the college stage of life. We were discussing couponing for one and it started my wheels turning on the whole subject of shopping with coupons during college. If someone would have taken the time to teach me how to effectively match up coupons with sales, I could have saved myself a lot of money at the time of my life when I had the least amount of cash on hand. The fact that I probably would have just blown it on going out to eat and random road trips is beside the point.
Each situation has unique challenges and unique benefits. For college students, the benefits are plentiful: shopping for one person and one taste palette, not having to have dinner on the table every night, being totally cool with shopping at 3am, etc. There is one huge drawback, however and that's TIME. Balancing classes, homework, a job and extracurricular activities is exhausting and the thought of taking time to clip coupons is probably not going to make the cut (pun intended, of course).
So here are a handful of tips I came up with to save college students a few dollars on their next grocery trip.
Make a list and stick to it.
Before you head to the store sit down and make an actual list of what you need to pick up on that trip. Roaming the aisles and grabbing things as you see them will cost you more. Impulse is not your friend when it comes to groceries.
Buy when it's on sale.
If you find a product you use on a regular basis go on sale or clearance, pick up a couple. This is what we in the business refer to as a stockpile and the next time your deodorant runs out right before you need to get to an early class, you'll thank me that you have a backup one under the sink next to some clearance toothpaste you picked up.
Switch stores. A lot of what I did in college was based on how things made me feel and this can be very true of grocery stores. If you shop at one that makes you feel good, you'll probably keep going back regardless of price. An easy way to start cutting your grocery bill is to make the switch to a discount store like Grocery Outlet (located all over the West Coast) or even Walmart. They just plain have lower prices.
Take advantage of student discounts.
This doesn't really apply to groceries but is just a good tip to remember. There are many different places that will offer a discount if you show your college ID. Off the top of my head I know that one of our local coffee shops offers a 2 for 1 deal each week. Keep your eyes open and look for these opportunities.
This is getting into territory that's a little more time-consuming but can save you big bucks. Get a hold of your local grocery ads either by hitting up someone who gets the paper or spending the $0.75 to get your own each week. Walmarts everywhere will price match other local ads. For our full article on how to do this, read on here.
Those are a few of the tips I came up with. If you're a real overachiever and want to know more about full-on coupon shopping, read our Coupon 101 post. It's hard to find time in college for these things but every chance you can save a little, it will relieve the financial pressure that hits hard during college.
It's been a few years since I got out of college, if I missed any great tips or you have anything to add, leave it in the comments below!