Pinching Pennies in College: Don’t Discount This!

We all know the memories: cutting along the dotted line for Mom’s $2 coupon at Target. Getting the 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon in the mail. Seeing Grandma with her coupon book stuffed to the brim with coupons for things she’d never buy otherwise. Like songs from high school dances, smells from our childhood homes, and the taste of hot chocolate on cold nights, we remember coupons as something nostalgic, but perfunctory.

But are they?

As student loans rise to the second largest category of debt, second only to mortgage debt, we begin to realize that saving money, even in the smallest ways, makes an enormous difference. If you’re a college kid like me, looking for a few ways to cut the nightmares of debt from your stress levels, couponing and other money-saving strategies are life-saving. Here are a few major ones that I’ve found to be most helpful:

Use your student status to get discounts
Pretty much everywhere offers a student discount. Where Spotify and Amazon offer discounts on their premium memberships, places like American Airlines offer special trips for participating schools. If you have a favorite subscription --whether it’s to the New Yorker or the local gym --find out if they have a student discount! Your status as a student is a card that screams “I’m broke!” to the world, and more often than not, your favorite companies have an answer to your call.

Get to know your local saving spots
Roam around the downtown shops, where those crowds of people buzz on Friday nights. Sometimes they’re overpriced meetup spots for your local white collars, but sometimes, it’s other college kids, there for a reason. Happy hours can buy some cheap drinks with friends, and some places, like the ones around me, offer Two-Dollar Taco Tuesdays. It’s a fun way to find a deal, and you might as well get to know the night life while you’re in college, right?

Don’t throw away Mom’s Costco coupon book! Or the Ralph’s receipts…
The coupon book that comes in the mail isn’t just junk meant for a bonfire at the end of the year.Sure, maybe you don’t need the deal on 40 lb bags of rice, but a couple of jugs of bulk-bought laundry soap are never be a bad thing for a college kid. That and mini-pack snacks, and you’re set for the quarter. The back of grocery store receipts, too, are great spots to spot deals. A lot of times there are those local hot spots just hiding on the back of your ice cream recipe.

But then again, don’t buy just because you have the coupon
Remember Grandma? And her seventy sets of oven mitts she will never use? She bought those because she found a deal at TJ Maxx, and now they collect dust in her “special spot for new oven mitts.” Don’t fall into the trap of buying something just because there’s a deal. Remember to stick to the essentials and look for deals on those. There are plenty of resources to find discounts on only the things your need in places like …

Couponing websites and apps!
They’re not just for Aunt Elsie, I promise, or for the fool who falls for Internet credit card scams. You do have to watch out for the websites that promise big savings after registering your credit card --or sometimes even SSN --but sites like and apps like Groupon offer coupons without the risk or the hassle. After creating an account, you can access the thousands of deals they have without the spam emails and expired codes. And they don’t just offer cut-out-coupons for oven mitts. They’re for useful things, like Hollister clothes and late-night caffeine from Teavana.

We’re in college now, and saving money is more important than ever. But with the help of a few money-saving tricks, and with the endless online and app-based coupons, we are more prepared than ever to face finances. Grandma trained us well when she taught us about saving our change, and now, with every type of coupon in the palm of your hand, we don’t even have to step into TJ Maxx to get a deal on our oven mitts.