College in itself is an enormous expense, so saving money on everyday items is essential. When at school, I live in an off-campus apartment, which means that I need to manage several expenses such as rent, bills, gas, and groceries. Creating a monthly budget, and sticking to it, is the key to saving money in college. In order for this budget to be effective, I make a habit of collecting store circulars, clipping and printing coupons, and accumulating a reserve of nonperishables.
I receive weekly circular ads from local stores and markets in the mail at my apartment. As a college student, it is important to buy items on sale, rather than pay full price. Through the circulars I can see which store has which products that I need on sale. Writing down these sales on a shopping list helps me to stay organized. I believe that the more organized you are, the more you will save and benefit from your shopping experience.
Even though I have my shopping list organized from the circulars, my money-saving practices are not complete. I scour coupon magazines and online sites for manufacturer and store coupons, they can get different coupons from rebateszone. I clip or print any coupons for items that I regularly purchase. Again, it is important to stay organized. I sort the coupons by expiration date and then compare to my shopping list to see at which store I will use which coupons. It is important to know the store’s coupon policy. For instance, I know which stores near my school will allow for double coupons and which allow the use of manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons. Being able to combine multiple coupons, especially when the item is on sale, leads to tremendous savings.
This past school year I had my most successful shopping trip to date. After organizing my list and collecting my coupons, I made a trip to one of the local grocery stores. That particular week, this store had many items on sale that my roommates and I typically buy. This was a very large order of groceries, and as the cashier rang up items I was nervous as I saw the total go higher and higher. After all the items were scanned the total reached over $170.00. To a college student this price is quite hefty and scary. But as the cashier started to scan the pile of coupons that I gave her, relief immediately set in. The total price trickled down slowly but surely with each coupon used. In the end, I only paid $96.00, which was almost a 44% savings. Needless to say, I was elated.
After this successful purchase, our apartment had a stockpile of food and household items. This stockpile is very important because if there is always a back-up of something, you will never have to run out and pay full price for an item in haste. This is especially beneficial for a college student who may not have time nor money for last minute shopping trips. Organization is again important here so that you can know when it is time to look for more sales and coupons for a particular item.
Overall, these are the ways that I tend to save money while in college. It is somewhat time consuming, but the benefits and money saved are well worth it. These methods have developed my organization skills and money management, which is crucial for any college student. I would recommend this method of keeping a budget to anyone. By looking at circulars, collecting coupons, and accumulating a reserve of items, I can help to ensure that my pantry is never empty and my wallet is always full.