During my first year in College, the realization that money does not grow on trees truly clicked. I cannot express in words how many times growing up I heard the phrase, “money does not grow on trees, we have worked very hard for this”. I never truly listened to my parents when they would say that, I usually responded with an eye roll.

The first time I paid tuition and fees, and purchased textbooks I nearly had a heart attack. HOW CAN BINDED PAPER BE SO EXPENSIVE?! I still do not have an answer for that question, even after completing 100+ credit hours. After that moment I began rigorously paying attention to the cost of items and soon began bargain shopping and desperately searching for any coupon/deal I could find.  I also realized that the price of items rise but the wages paid to purchase said items do not rise at an equal rate.

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The coupon portions of the Sunday paper, Groupon, Living Social and subscribing to stores’ ads have become my best friends. Truthfully. I do not buy anything at a retail store/grocery store unless it is on sale and/or I have a coupon. Even if $0.35/item is saved…that adds up, fast. Over the course of a month, if 30 items were purchased, $10.50 was saved. That is about one hour, after taxes, of wages for me.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

There are not always coupons/deals for the exact brand of an item you are looking for, especially grocery items. I have discovered new brands or variations of items that I would have never considered without a coupon, which I actually prefer more than the one I set out to buy or buy regularly.  I have discovered new foods that I absolutely love because of deals I had.

During the summer months, my boyfriend and I went Mountain biking, rock climbing, river rafting, kayaking and rented ATV’s because of the deals we found for those activities, which made them affordable for us. We are both in College so we would regularly never do those activities because they are so expensive.

“I have a coupon for that” is one of my infamous savings. My friends poke fun of me and my hunt for savings. When we go out somewhere, they ask how much my coupon/deal is going to save on the bill. Some have become accustomed to me saving them money; others have asked me to help them get set up to find the best deals because they realize how much money they could be saving. Other acquaintances ask why I never want the newest, latest and greatest items; I ask why they would want to pay the highest price for something when they could wait a small amount of time and save themselves money. Instant gratification will be an expensive lesson for people who feel that way.

I have realized that there are some people who feel as if it takes ‘too much’ time to find savings or it is inconvenient for them to receive emails from companies they do not have an intention on visiting for a while (unsubscribing is a simple and time saving step). Personally, when I use coupons one of my favorite things to do is calculate how much money was saved and figure out how many hours I would need to work in order to the regular price…and extra 5 minutes of my day to find a deal is well worth it.

I will be forever grateful for that first semester of College, for a few reasons, but mainly because of the life lesson it taught me. Some of the material taught in college I will not use throughout my entire life, but ensuring that I get the most ‘bang for my buck’ will always be an important factor in life. I love sharing deals/coupons with my family and friends so they can save some money, too!