Student life is considered an important turning point in life, a milestone that represents a time when a teen becomes an adult. This journey into adulthood is often paved with numerous personal decisions. Some of the most important ones are in respect to life away from the nest. Planning how to support oneself during studies is the first part of the preparation for college. Saving as much as possible during this time is another part. This couponing guide for students will help you get started.

Lesson #1 of your couponing guide: know your coupons

A couponing guide wouldn’t be a guide if it didn’t begin with some basic terms. You need to know what kind of coupons there are to make the best use of them. The first difference is in their origin. You will notice the manufacturer and store coupons, some of which you will be able to combine for higher discounts. The act of combining these two types of coupons is called stacking. Then, there are digital coupons you can print or show to the cashier on your smartphone, as well as coupon codes you can enter during online checkout. And there are regular paper coupons, that you can get in various places.

A coupon code on a smartphone screen.
Coupon codes are popular digital codes buyers enter during the online checkout process.

Where can students find their coupons?

If you are reading this then you are likely looking for tips for a couponing beginner. It further means that you haven’t been looking for coupons before. Soon, you are going to see coupons everywhere. And they truly are everywhere.

Digital coupons are offered on the manufacturer’s or store’s website or in their emails, as well as on couponing websites. These latter websites have specialized in gathering coupon deals and offering them all in one place. Your only job is to browse through several product and coupon categories and find the ones you like and need the most. Some of those sites even provide a sign-up credit for new users.

Regarding common paper coupons, there are several places where a student can find them. Aside from the store, which is the most obvious location, students can find coupons in their libraries. Libraries have subscriptions to newspapers including those that offer coupons weekly. Spending time at the library implies better access to knowledge, but also those newspaper inserts. A great deal indeed. 

Furthermore, you will find newspaper inserts in coffee shops or fast-food restaurants, where people who read Sunday newspapers leave them. It doesn’t hurt to scan a few nearby venues on your Sunday walk.

The most direct way to obtain coupons is to simply ask your friends or neighbors for inserts they don’t use. Also, don’t be shy to ask your favorite manufacturer for a coupon through their online contact form. Having a loyal satisfied customer nowadays is a dream come true for most of them. Hence, most manufacturers send their fans a couple of coupons if they just politely ask.

What to buy with your coupons, and when?

The first and the most important couponing advice is to use your coupons only on already-discounted items. The savings you will make this way can truly make a difference in your student budget. Sometimes, if you stack your coupons, you can even get the item for free or create an overage. This happens when your coupons exceed the product price. While you most likely won’t get a cashback from the store, you can use this overage to reduce the cost of other items in your shopping cart.

Special prices sign in the store window.
The best savings are made if coupons are used on already discounted products

To have a clear picture of what kind of coupons you collect and need, it is important to organize your coupons and keep them in one place. You can do it in the same way couponing websites do. You can arrange them in alphabetical order, either according to a product category or by making them store-specific.

Also, bear in mind the coupon expiration date. Most coupons have limited time use, and that brings us to the second important advice. Don’t feel under pressure to use every coupon you get. Purchasing uncontrollably just because you have coupons at hand beats the whole point of couponing. Savings are best made if you purchase what you need at the best possible price. Sometimes it means you will buy more in advance and make a stockpile of unperishable items. Other times, you will miss one deal only to get a better one later. Remember that coupons are getting out regularly and that there are numerous brands to choose from.

A few BONUS tips

Nothing grabs attention like “bonus” in All Caps. The same goes for coupons on store and manufacturers’ websites. There is no way to miss big banners on their home or relevant product pages. In brick and mortar stores, you will find coupons near the entrance or in blinking dispensers, a.k.a. blinkies. Furthermore, if you wish to never miss a digital coupon, download a few couponing website apps and subscribe to their emails. Make sure you create a separate email account for subscriptions only, to get all the deals in one place.

Retail store hangers with a discount tag.
Coupons and discounts are usually easy to spot, both in physical stores and on websites.

Getting discounts on the usually overpriced goods is a great way to navigate through the student life away from home. And also, to set a basis for more reasonable shopping habits. So, pack your belongings, call to help you relocate close to your college, and start enjoying your student life on a budget. 

A final piece in this couponing guide for students: in case you make a stockpile, don’t forget to check the expiration date on your items. Couponing on bulk orders pays off but you can also get stuck with too many products you can’t spend on time. Consider gifting or donating the excess items. Make someone as happy as couponing has made you!

Alisha Jennings is a product manager freshly out of college. She enjoys writing tips for students as she understands the importance of sharing valuable experience.