As a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire I understand the term “broke”. I have mountains of student loans already, which are only getting heftier, and more often than not I wish I had never taken on a graduate program to begin with. Each paycheck is dialed down to the cent and yet I don’t turn to extreme couponing to alleviate my woes. In fact, I barely use coupons at all.

Admittedly, coupons would be a great way to save money on everyday items that I would end up purchasing regardless. With spending all my time in classes or studying I barely have time to eat, let alone spend it clipping and snipping the local newspaper.
Now, I am aware that the idea of newspaper clipping to get bargains is basically a medieval notion in this day in age when there are plenty of apps and websites dedicated to finding me coupons, like Even with the supposed easiness of getting great deals in an instant, I steer clear for a few reasons.

I don’t trust coupons. The paper versions make me weary because often times they don’t work on the scanning machines. The online versions can also encounter scanning issues, and many a time I go to a specific store to buy a product with a coupon only to find at the cash register that and it isn’t accepted. Coupon codes given for online transactions read as invalid more times than I can count.

In addition, I don’t trust myself with coupons. I tend to misread the extremely small print, forget the expiration date, and wash them in my jean pockets. Most of the time I set a coupon aside to use the next time I go grocery shopping and forget to take it with me. By the time I make my next trip, it’s expired. This doesn’t have much to do with the nature of coupons, it’s really just my own lack of organization. Though I think I deserve a little disorganization with all the classes and due dates I’m already trying to juggle.
They’re confusing. I’m fairly confident we’ve all binged on a few episodes of extreme couponing, sitting in shock and awe watching them walk out the grocery store with carts filled to the brim…and make money! They discuss how they buy 1 toothpaste tube, get one free with coupon A. Then they take 40% off with coupon B. They are only spending 2 cents a tube but when you buy 300 you make $3.00. How does that even make sense? Now, I know that probably none of that was accurate but that’s sure what it feels like. Plus, what college grad needs 300 tubes of toothpaste. It’s not like I can share them with the whole dorm, I’m too old for that.
Couponing seems complicated and time consuming when done regularly, and fairly worthless when done sporadically. Don’t get me wrong, no college kid is going to turn down ½ priced beer and appetizers but actually taking the time to search for coupons, snip or print them, and use them correctly for more important items is asking too much.

I find that if there is a product I want and no coupon for it vs. a product I don’t really want but there is a coupon…I’d still rather buy my desired product at full price. Extreme bargain hunters rather save the money, but once I decide on something I want I’ll shell out the extra dough to get it.

I am always looking for deals, for markdowns, garage sales, freebies, thrift shops, anything to save a few bucks, but I don’t often think of searching for a coupon as being my best bet. Even if I do find a great coupon online, it’s not often that I go through with it. Perhaps because I am afraid of it being a scam and being humiliated when I try to use it. With continuous improvements to coupon finding websites and apps in the modern technological era my comfort level with using them may go up. Until then, I’ll stick to top ramen and spaghetti as a means to save money.

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