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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Holly S.

Tuition, books, room and board, meals, club-entry fees, school supplies, living necessities, and the list goes on and on. Being a college student is very rewarding in the aspect of striving for a certain career goal, but costly due to all of the expenses that come with the “college experience.” I am in my second year of college and enjoying all of the new opportunities that arise, meeting new friends and gaining more knowledge as I plan to pursue a career as a pharmacist. The college that I attend is the right fit for me: small, community-oriented, Christian values, one-on-one with professors, and, of course, my intended major. However, because it is a private institution, the annual cost is quite expensive. For this reason, my family tries to be frugal whenever possible, and one such way we do that is through the use of coupons.

For anyone who has seen “Extreme Couponing” on TLC, the methods and planning carried out by these extreme couponists is quite amazing, especially when they can buy a cart full of groceries for mere dollars. Although my family is not that extreme when it comes to using coupons, my mom does her best to find deals and buy items with coupons whenever we go shopping for groceries. On our way to church every Sunday, we stop at our local gas station for my mom to buy a Sunday paper, which contains coupons. Every Wednesday, she buys a weekly paper and looks at the sale’s papers for both Walgreen’s and CVS in order to see what deals they are running for that week. She then compares her coupons with those weekly deals to look for any possible matches. Usually, she is able to purchase drinks, hair products, toiletry items, and snacks using the combination of her coupons with these weekly deals. In accordance with the coupons and weekly deals, my mom also uses her reward cards at both Walgreen’s and CVS, allowing her to earn points or receive in-store coupons that provide more opportunities for discounts.

A note from us at I’m In: We can help you save on groceries, too!

Not only does she shop at Walgreen’s and CVS, but she also buys most of our groceries at our local Food Lion, and sometimes Harris Teeter when they run the “Super Double” coupon event. At Food Lion, my mom scans her MVP card at a coupon machine, giving her coupons on certain items in the store. She then looks at her sale’s paper for needed items and uses in accordance with those deals. At checkout, her MVP card is scanned, giving her an even greater discount on grocery items. Usually, my family does not buy items at the grocery store without the use of a coupon or an item already being on sale; however, there are certain times when we make exceptions. At times, Harris Teeter has an event called “Super Double,” in which the store doubles the value of a coupon up to two dollars. When this event occurs, my mom goes and buys certain grocery items so that she can receive the greatest possible value from her coupons.

Through the use of these methods, my mom has been able to save quite a bit of money, and also add to her small, but convenient and accessible stockpile. She has been able to stock up on washing detergent, dish detergent, hand soap, hair products, body wash, lotion, air fresheners, toiletry items, and drinks, which ultimately saves money so that we do not constantly have to purchase these items. Therefore, because of the influence coupons have on my mom’s purchasing decisions, this influence is also on reflected on me. I live in an on-campus apartment and have to buy groceries, with the use of available coupons, but whenever I come home from college and need something, such as shampoo or hand-soap, I simply go to our stockpile and get what I need. It is convenient, and I know it helps my family save money so that it can be used for alternative costs, like tuition or books. My aunt also uses coupons and has an at-home stockpile, so she also gives me items that I can use at my apartment.

College is expensive, and although there are some areas where there is simply no room for negotiation, there are alternative areas where money can be saved. Using coupons is a simple and effective way to save money, even if it is just saving a dollar or two. Every cent counts and my mom demonstrates her frugality by purchasing items with necessary coupons and constantly adding to her stockpile to save money in the long run. Simply put, when a friend asks my sister or I what shampoo it is that we use, we smile and reply, “The kind we had a coupon for.” Through her continual methods, money is saved and put towards my education to get closer to my dream of being a pharmacist.

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