The College Guide to Coupons

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 18, 2017

A sad financial situation and college often go hand in hand. You hear students joke about going to sleep early instead of buying dinner (little do you know, they aren’t really joking), or figuring out if 2-ply toilet paper is too luxurious for a college student budget.

However, you don’t need to sacrifice meals or quality in your home goods! Rather, try your hand at coupons in order to make your money go the extra mile.

Start looking at your junk mail 

There is nothing like opening up your apartment’s mailbox and seeing it filled to the brim with local magazines and other “junk” mail that you think has no use. Instead, take time to sort through every piece of mail. Local papers and magazines feature countless ads from local restaurants and other retail businesses, coupons included. Local groceries also mail out full ads, advertising their current deals and coupons that would allow you to save even more money.

Make sure you do the same with your email, as sometimes that “junk” email is actually a business emailing you coupons or a deal (obviously you will want to check if it’s a real business or not).

Sign up for (free) rewards programs and download apps

With so many people having access to smartphones and mobile apps, businesses are offering rewards programs and apps for their customers. These rewards programs are designed to keep you interested in their business by allowing you to easily save money. Some rewards programs will come in the form of stamp cards, having you spend a certain amount of money, buy whatever amount of items, or visit a certain amount of times in order to redeem a reward — a free product, a discount, etc.

Rewards programs also allow you access to members-only coupons, deals, and sales. If you’re already going to shop/spend money at a place, you might as well save or earn points from every purchase with little to no extra effort. Take Starbucks for example; you can reload your card (sometimes even getting bonus stars for doing so at times) and use it for every drink purchase and if you earn a certain amount of stars you can redeem them for a free drink or food item. You’re going just as much as you used to, but are now getting a free item down the line.

Grocery stores often have member-only sales and deals, which you won’t realize until you’re at checkout and the discount isn’t applying because you aren’t a member. Luckily, you can usually just ask your cashier if you could sign up for the rewards program on the spot and save money on your purchase.

Look up coupons before shopping and plan out your trip

Prior to grocery shopping, look at the coupons you already have. By doing this, you have an idea of what would save you the most money by using the coupons you currently have. If you usually switch between two different kinds of cereal and notice you have a coupon for one of the brands, pick up that specific brand when you go shopping and save money by skipping out on the other.

Plan out your weekly homecooked meals according to what coupons you have; if you notice that your coupons mainly revolve around seafood instead of red meat, try focusing your upcoming meals on seafood.

That being said, if you have your heart (and stomach) set on certain meals or food items and realize that you don’t have coupons for them, try a quick Google search. The Google search can lead you to online communities posting different coupons for fellow users or some coupons that managed to slip past you. This way, you are saving money on something you were already willing to buy full price.

Check in when you can

If you have access to Yelp, try scoping out the business you are heading to. Places with active Yelps often have exclusive deals available for anyone that “checks in.” All you have to do is find the businesses’ Yelp on your mobile Yelp app and verify you are at the business with your current location. Keep your check-in pulled up on your screen so you can show servers/waiters that your offer is still valid, as it often expires after a couple of hours.

These check-in offers can range anywhere from free appetizers or fountain drinks to a percent discount depending on the business and how they choose to reward reviewers.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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