Joanie Demer | 

A College Student's Guide to Couponing

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One of the best ways you can save money in college is by being super deal savvy and (gasp!) couponing. Whether you do this by finding college student coupons, discounts, or promo codes that’ll help you save is up to you. But tried-and-true couponing is always a good idea.

Couponing can be as easy or as involved as you’d like it to be. On the easy side, there’s mobile coupons and apps where all you do is upload something or scan a barcode to get the coupon discount.

More involved would include buying multiple newspapers and clipping coupons in order to get all the deals. I won’t go too much into this method here since, as a college student, you’re already so busy with school, maybe a job, and a vibrant social life. But if you’re ever in a spot where you really need to cut your grocery bill in half, check out How to Coupon. It’s my ultimate guide and where I show you what you need to do to really level up your couponing.

In the meantime, let’s explore the low-hanging fruit. Easy couponing for college students:


1. Find a Target, Rite Aid, CVS, or Walgreens near your campus ASAP.

One of the first steps in your couponing journey is establishing where you’ll be doing your shopping. Basically, you’re gonna become BFFs with the closest drugstore you can find. This includes CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Choose one and also pick Target.

Next, find out their couponing policies. Will they take expired coupons? Can you stack coupons?

You’ll need to download each store’s app as well. Much, if not all, of your couponing will happen digitally for these stores, which makes them ideal places to begin. Target is the easiest to coupon at, while the deeper savings will be at the drugstores.


2. Skip paper coupons and find mobile coupons on the Krazy Coupon Lady app.

Someone holding up a phone showing Axe coupons on the KCL app in front of a Walgreens counter

Time is precious in college, and it truly is a balancing act. Download the KCL app where you’ll find coupons sorted by type. Mobile coupons are the largest category, with the most coupons available (yay!). However, you can also find printable coupons on the app, and information about current newspaper coupons. Sometimes if you really want a deal, you may need to print paper coupons, but you can do that directly from the app too.

RELATED: Learn more about the top couponing apps.


3. Use rebate apps like Ibotta to save up to $500 every year.

A person sitting in their car and using the receipt-scanning feature on the ibotta app to scan their Walgreens receipt.

Download Ibotta and simply scan your receipts to earn cash back on hundreds of grocery items — many of which I promise you’re already buying.

Here’s all the best cash back apps. Ibotta isn’t the only one, and in most cases, you can redeem offers from two different apps using the same single item you bought. Plus, you can easily use a coupon along with a rebate app offer.



4. Combine coupons with student discounts to maximize your savings.

A person shopping in Target, filling out the Student Verification form on their phone in the Target Circle app.

Coupons are great on their own, but stack them with a store that already offers a student discount to save even more.

Start by checking out the top stores that offer student discounts. Sign up to access as many as possible.

Also, colleges often have a link on their website listing stores and restaurants that offer discounts with your student ID, so check there, too!


5. Get Uber Eats and DoorDash promo codes.

Doordash delivery person delivering a pizza.

It’s not the best way to save money on meals, but we’ve all been there. Having the best intentions to cook a meal, but then your day gets out of hand and food delivery…well, it just happens. Take the edge off that cost by using Uber Eats promo codes and DoorDash coupons in these situations.


6. Build your stockpile with essentials like body wash, laundry detergent and deodorant.

dove and dove men + care body wash, beauty bars soap, body love cleansers, in a cart

Living in a dorm or shared apartment means you probably don’t have a ton of space for a giant stockpile. In this case, you need to be picky about the couponing deals you do.

Stack coupons and store deals to stock up on essentials like toothpaste, body wash, toilet paper, body lotion, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, and whatever else you use often.

For food, stock up on non-perishables with a long shelf life that you know you’ll eat. Good options are cereal, coffee, pasta, rice, oatmeal, soup, granola bars, and marinara sauce.



7. And then. . . use your stockpile to barter.

Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, personal care items, stockpiled into a cupboard.

For real! After you come down off that high from finding a killer stock-up deal on body wash, ask your roommates to buy some groceries in exchange for the suds (or whatever else you have excess of).

People have been known to barter with their stockpiles for haircuts and all kinds of other goods and services.


8. Take advantage of the Groupon Select Student Program and get up to $20 off local deals.

A person using a phone displaying the Groupon download page on the IOS app store.

You probably already know about Groupon’s huge variety of coupons for restaurants and fun activities.

To make things even better, their student program offers up to $20 off local deals when you apply.

As long as you attend a qualifying university, and you’re a current student, you’ll qualify. One thing to note is Groupon won’t allow you to stack coupons with the student discount.


9. Load up on freebies that are actually free.

A pink box from PINCHme with free samples of products like Lumify, Compeed, and Haribo Gummy Bears scattered next to it.

Who doesn’t love free samples? Even better? Free samples you can get without having to do something in return (fill out a survey, share on social media, etc.).

These free sample sites offer mostly household goods, but also some health and beauty products.



10. Get free coupons directly from brands you love.

Mailbox overstuffed with coupons

This one takes a bit of effort, but it’s not at all complicated. Loads of companies will send you free coupons simply because you asked. Submit a request for free coupons using the brand’s online contact form. I’ve gotten hundreds of free coupons this way. And they’re not skimpy coupons either. They tend to be pretty high value. Here are just a few brands I’ve had success with:


11. Find tons of coupons in little-known places around campus.

It’s no secret that college students are on a budget, so coupons are everywhere you look, including:

  • In your college newspaper
  • At the campus bookstore
  • Pinned to community boards
  • At the library, gym, health center, and other buildings
  • City newspapers around campus
  • At nearby restaurants
  • The mailroom in your dorm or apartment complex

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