Patrick Miller, Trinity House residence director, isn’t new to the idea of using coupons to shop. He has been doing this for two years — nearly 15 hours every week. He’ll clip, snip and cut out savings from local ads and newspapers.
He can see the benefits it has on his wallet. He even gets his toothpaste for free.
Now he’s using what he knows to help coordinate a program with classes for students, so they can save money like he does.
The program is called the Food Coupon Campaign. They will meet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The final two meetings are Tuesday and Nov. 13.
The campaign will start out small between two on-campus houses, Brazos and Trinity houses, said Shirley Theriot, Center for Community Service Learning director and a chairmember in the campaign.
“With the holidays quickly approaching, I want to be able to teach others how they can save money on holiday meals,” Theriot said. “With the high rate of food insecurity in the D-FW area, this is one way I strongly believe we can help reduce that.”
To help students prepare for holiday shopping and any feasts, the group offers these five tips to help students save money.
What to look for
When shopping for coupons, people should first want to identify what it is they need. For instance, if someone needs food, he or she would need to look through the ads and newspapers for food products, Miller said. Making sure people are staying on track with finding coupons, Miller said it’s helpful to write a list.
Once the list is complete, Miller said to go through a magazine, ads or a newspaper to find the things written down. Then cut them out and place them in a stack to the side.
When a person is looking for things, it is easy to be distracted by other sales. Although Miller said it’s important to stay focused on the list, Dian Farmer sees it as a open door.
Farmer, an Arlington resident and one of the instructors for the classes, said not to be afraid to clip coupons outside that list.
“Get extras so that you can give them away to charity or churches or organizations, even family and friends,” Farmer said.
Aarn Farmer, Dian’s husband, said price-matching policies at stores can help students save huge.
A good example of this is Walmart, he said. Students should find a local newspaper or an ad and search for the cheapest price available on an item. Couponers should make sure the final price is printed on the ad.
When someone takes the coupon to Walmart, they will price match a final price found that is cheaper than their item. It’s important in the price match to not forget to look at the Walmart coupons for some additional savings, he said.
“I tend to always find coupons that are in the newspaper and find ads to compare the prices and it’s unbelievable what you can save,” he said.
For instance, some products can be free. By simply applying a coupon on top of a matched price, customers can make the price go down to almost nothing. For example, he said, if Dawn has a sale of $2, and another store had it on sale for ninety-nine cents, and the coupon for Walmart was for fifty cents off, the total price for the product would be fifty cents a bottle.
How to organize
After cutting out the coupons, a person should place the items in categories such as food, produce, toiletry, clothes, etc., he said.
This will help eliminate time wasted searching through the coupons to find what’s needed while at the store, he said. Also, it’s good to take a checklist of the coupons with the original price and coupon discount on a paper to help go in order, he said.
Places to find coupons
There are many places people can find coupons, but the main places to look for them would be in local newspapers and local grocery stores. Some other inclusive locations are around postal service places where people may recycle the papers in trash bins, he said. Online coupons are not always the best solution because the barcode may not scan at the registers, he said. So to keep from any confusion, people should find coupons that are actual prints from the businesses, he said.
Some of the best places to locate these newspapers and ads are by subscribing to the newspaper in the area and getting them sent straight to the house. Grocery stores can also sometimes carry ad books inside for customers, he said.
Dian said another great tip for couponing is the simple strategy of changing things up.
“Instead of walking the usual pathway in the store, go in reverse and you will see things you’ve never seen before,” she said.
By doing this, a person can begin to see different items, sales and displays.