Coupons did not always influence my purchasing decisions, I know they did influence my mother’s but not mine. I was a carefree teenager with no care in the world, especially not for coupons but that changed this year when I went off to college. I now have to worry about money in a way I hadn’t ever before. My limited budget does not allow me to go out with friends often or to buy things as I probably would have in the past. My tight budget has led me to save as much as I can and using coupons is an essential part of that yet I am sometimes not aware of existing coupons which hinders my ability to use coupons.

There was once an event at the Irvine Spectrum, the mall close to campus. I went with friends on a Saturday since weekends on campus are very boring. We were aimlessly walking around, window shopping, when we saw a stand by a popular auto maker, they were giving away a twenty-five dollar gift card to those eighteen or older to ride in their vehicles. My friends and I decided we would take advantage of the opportunity and made our way to the stand, in the end we received our twenty-five dollar gift cards valid at any store in the mall. Instead of using these gift cards on clothes, we went directly to Target and bought snacks like chips, cookies, microwavable macaroni and cheese to keep in our rooms. Such is the life of the broke college student we thought. The twenty-five dollars helped us. It meant more money for other things, more money for books next quarter, more money for anything. That experience has led me to take advantage of sales and to use coupons whenever possible.

At the beginning of the school year, many people were handing out booklets with coupons to college students on campus. I did not pay the slightest attention to it and stuffed it in my backpack. I did not go back to it until after the mall experience. I went through the booklet and found coupons for things such as laptop cases and earphones, which I needed. I then went online and—shocker—saved money. I should also add that workers from a nearby restaurant were handing out coupons as well which came in handy considering my meal plan is only valid weekdays and I have to eat out on weekends. My newfound independence along with college life was not at all like what popular culture depicted.

Now that I have to manage money and keep track of my expenses, I try to refrain from buying clothes or shoes. Yet my newfound awareness of coupons has helped me take advantage of any sales there are or coupons I might find. I bought an eleven dollar shirt that was originally priced at around thirty dollars with a coupon! I should also add that this particular shirt was something I would not have bought had I not had a coupon or a promo code. Its original price was far too expensive, enough to make me run the other way. My purchasing habits have changed, I now mostly shop when there are sales or when I have coupons to save as much money. So although I may lack the skills of those on Extreme Couponing, our reasons for using coupons are mostly similar in that they are financial.

To be honest, I was not aware until recently of existing websites dedicated to offering coupons. I just thought coupons were available through the booklets mailed to homes. Yet it turns out I can sign up for emails on offers. So what I think I will do is sign up for those emails from stores I frequent, or find a way to get emails for coupons on products I need. Perhaps downloading the app is more convenient since the notifications are an alternative to evading a flood of emails. I can then check what coupons are available when I walk into a store.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can also get coupons to you right on your phone when you download our free Mobile Coupon App!