About a week after I came back to Drake, I had a revelation: Walgreens is cheap.
I know that money would vehemently argue against me, citing big receipts and expensively branded Drake attire. And all of that is completely true–except for the fact that Walgreens accepts lots and lots…of coupons.
No, I am not one of those bargain-crazed hunters you might see on “Extreme Couponing,” but I’m definitely on my way there. Since I started practicing the ins and outs of the coupon trade in early August, I estimate that I’ve saved nearly $300 on groceries and apartment supplies alone.
It adds up fast, and it’s really easy. Here’s how we roll on the coupon train.
Step one. Wait until Sunday. Rev up your car or convince a friend who’s low on fuel. Go to Kum n’ Go and put at least $20 in your tank.
Step two. Get your newspaper. The gasoline purchase will also nab you a free Sunday edition of the Des Moines Register, which is stuffed chock full of coupons.
Step three. Cut out all the coupons, and I mean all of the coupons. OK, unless you’re hiding a puppy in your dorm, it might not behoove you to snip out discounts on dog food, but seriously, get as many as you can. You never know what will be on sale, and you never know when you’ll need something.
Step four. Get cyber. The Internet is stuffed with coupons hiding around every little corner. You can try sites like coupons.com for your standard coupons, or, if you want to get a virtual bang for your buck, try swagbucks.com. For every coupon you print off from the site, you’ll get 10 virtual “swagbucks” that you can redeem for prizes or cold hard cash. For those of skeptical at the idea of virtual currency, I’m using my accumulated Swagbucks to finish paying my rent this month.
Step five. Sit tight for about a month and rack up more coupons. From my observations and what I’ve read, many companies began promoting their products with newspaper or online coupons, and about a month later (usually right before the coupon expires, but not always), stores will suddenly start offering your couponed items on sale.
Step six. Get organized. Some people put thornier coupons in a binder, but I’m not that intense (…yet). I generally try to group coupons with where the item will be in the store, so all the dairy coupons go together, all the cleaner coupons go together, etc. It makes things go much quicker in the store, but I do recommend planning on spending at least an hour and a half on serious grocery trips.
Step seven. Choose a person of the opposite sex at the cash register close to your age and flirt with them while in line. If you’re nice, they’ll probably give you the coupon discount even if the coupon doesn’t actually work. However, I’ve found that online coupons can be particularly tricky.
Step eight. Check over the receipt. Make sure all the charges were correct and all the coupons went through. Then look at where it tells you how much you saved and feel awesome about yourself.
Step nine. Don’t tell anybody about it. Feel embarrassed because only old ladies use coupons, and you’re a college student. Compulsively continue your couponing crusade when no one is watching.
Step 10. Realize how logical it is to save money and tell the world about it by writing an article for The Times-Delphic. Hold your head high, and whenever someone mocks you, just tally up all those numbers in the bank.