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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Amanda Ma.

I’m a big sucker for sales. I, like any money saver, flock to the clearance racks, the “SALE!” signs, and company advertisements crammed into the newspaper. Though most of my purchases are for clothes, I rarely buy anything that is not on sale. I was raised a bargain shopper. Unless I have an immediate need, it is silly to buy anything without a coupon or a discount—as they say, a penny saved is a penny not spent. That penny can surely go to something more useful later down the line.

I’ve also always been a big saver, putting nearly all of my earnings away where I’m not tempted to spend it. Now that I am in college, I have to rely on my savings a lot, both to pay part of my tuition and to pay the innumerable tiny expenses that no one tells you about. These include textbooks (a not so tiny expense), lab materials, online access codes, and club fees. All these costs really stack up, and money is much tighter than I’m used to. I have to be conscientious about what I’m spending. My need for couponing is greater than ever as I juggle what I have now with what I might need later. I coupon so that I can save what money I do have, with the idea that I’ll be spending it on more important things later. This idea is especially relevant as I’ll be escaping the dorms next year to live in an apartment, meaning I’ll have to buy and make my own food as well as pay rent.

Though I’m not one to shy away from using a coupon, there are times when I feel a little tacky bringing a coupon into a store and trying to maximize its value. This happens a lot in Victoria’s Secret. I’ll walk in with a coupon, and feel really cheap for bringing it in. I’ll feel especially chancy when I ask if I could possibly combine coupons. At grocery stores and lower end clothing stores this feels ok. I can combine chains of coupons on clearance items and pay just a small fraction of the original price, no problem. I don’t feel like I’m crossing some strange social barrier where saving money isn’t totally acceptable. When I’m at higher end stores, it just feels weird and uncomfortable to use a series of discounts all at once. I want the quality good for the lowest price, but for some reason that’s looked down on. Most of the time, though, my discomfort with the situation will not deter me from using my 30% off coupon combined with a $10 Secret Rewards card so I can get a really, really nice bra for only $20. This does take a small amount of courage, but I can be brave for some great deals.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save with our clothing coupons!

Couponing is such an easy way to save money beyond regular sales and clearance items. All of these devices together can add up to major savings, which is great for the typical broke college student trying to conserve the few resources she has. The best part about using coupons is that it is essentially free money. Anyone can subscribe to coupon sites like imin.com or Coupon Mom and get coupons that they will use on day to day items. Sites like these do the work in finding relevant coupons. Coupons even come in the mail and the newspaper, meaning that the average consumer has to do very little work to get great deals on everyday goods. Couponing is easy and it can save a lot of money. What all this saving really comes down to is delaying the time that the money has to be spent, literally stretching every dollar across time to be spent later. Each cent saved in the present can be put toward something else in the future, putting every hard-earned dollar to good use. I coupon for this very reason; it is effortless and it allows me to invest in my future spending.

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