Being a college student with a chronic illness can have its challenges, especially financially. Balancing my checkbook was never a strong suit, until the other day when I received a friendly reminder in the mail from Citizen’s Bank, showcasing the rather large number I would be paying back for my college student loans. It was time to start saving on groceries and even earning money on every day items.
I had watched shows on TV and read blogs, particularly The Krazy Coupon Lady and Living Rich with Coupons, about “extreme couponing”. It always intrigues me to see people save a significant amount of money on items I consistently purchase at full price. While some of the couponers I find to be a bit over the top, others are practical about their purchases. From my perspective, there are two types of couponers– the ones who clean the shelves because, “why not, it’s free!?” and the ones who stock up on things that they’ll need, all while making a few bucks towards their next purchase. My family is fairly minimalistic, so purchasing 400 tubes of toothpaste or 100 boxes of Ramen Noodles for myself seemed absurd and a waste of space and time. I live in an efficiency a few miles away from Keene State, so it’s important for me to use my money, time, and space wisely.
In the beginning, it took awhile to research couponing. I started because I wanted to figure out how I could afford food [by purchasing food]. It’s only been two weeks of couponing and already, I have realized that most of my couponing is not primarily about food. Rather, it is about purchasing other items to be able to afford food or other expensive products that help manage my Arthritis pain.
“People ask me what it feels like. To me, it’s like relaxing on a private beach with a nice cold beverage.”
I stock up on products I know I will use throughout the weeks, such as toilet paper, tampons, conditioner, toothbrushes, and other toiletries. Also, if there are deals on snacks that I like, such as Chex Mix, I’ll purchase them. I am notorious for stopping at the gas station on my way to work for snacks because I’m hopping from one job to the next. As of right now, I have four jobs, two of which are waitressing positions. Constantly being on the go makes it difficult to manage my pain. Sometimes, I just do not have the time to let my Arthritis rest and just have to work through the pain.
Recently, my coworker Michelle introduced me to a generic tens unit and allowed me to use her husband’s while I was at work. While this was generous of her, I couldn’t wait to have one of my own. People ask me what it feels like. To me, it’s like relaxing on a private beach with a nice cold beverage. So, naturally I wanted to take a little vacation from my pain as often as I could by purchasing a tens unit. Some are more expensive than others, so I started checking pricing. While there are some great deals on them online, it is always a nuisance to pay for shipping. Rite Aid advertised in the beginning of the month that a Tens Unit was on sale for $29.99. I thought, perfect– let’s make this happen with some couponing!
There is a program called “+Up Rewards” (UR) at Rite Aid, which essentially allows the customer to earn money on featured products in the weekly advertisement. If you purchased the tens unit, you received $5.00 UR to use on your next purchase. The +UR are valid to use the next morning and can be sent to your Rite Aid store card, or can be printed out. Note that if you print them out, you can choose which purchase the +UR go towards, whereas if they are put on your card, they will automatically deduct your points and use them on your next purchase, no matter what it is.
I needed to earn some +UR. When I looked at the Rite Aid advertisement, there was a sale on Clean and Clear shampoo or conditioner. Each bottle was on sale for $4.99 with $2 UR per shampoo or conditioner purchase. Had I purchased the products at full price, I would have paid out of pocket (OOP) $19.96. However, I only paid $1.96 with coupons from watching Rite Aid video commercials and with coupons from coupons.com. At the end of the transaction, I earned $8.00 UR. Essentially, I made $6.04, which I would use towards the Tens Unit that I wanted and couldn’t afford before.
Here’s the Breakdown
$4.99 x 4= $19.96 Regular Total for four (4 ct) Conditioners
Used four $3.00 off coupons by watching Rite Aid Video Videos
Used four $1.50 off coupons from Coupons.com
OOP was $1.96 Total with $2.00 +UR per conditioner
($2×4 conditioners= $8 in +Up Rewards)
Money Maker of $6.04
Now, as if that wasn’t enough, I was able to coupon even more for my tens unit purchase. I went to the Icy Hot website and found a $5.00 off coupon. I printed this out for my purchase. In the ad, it also shows that if you purchase the tens unit, you receive $5.00 +UR. So, here is the breakdown of my tens unit purchase.
Original Price of Tens Unit: $39.99
Sale Price At Rite Aid: $29.99
Earned+UR from Clean&Clear: $6.04
Coupon from IcyHot.com: $5.00
Earned +UR from Tens Unit: $5.00
TOTAL COST: $13.95
TOTAL SAVINGS: 65%
Well, lesson learned– Couponing does not have to be strictly about food! I am able to care for my Arthritis and rediscover how much a dollar can be stretched. My tens unit is amazing and I could not be happier that I earned it through a little brain workout of crunching numbers. By saving on medical costs and every day items, I am able to afford eating well and essentially living well. If you’d like to see how I save on my groceries, stay tuned!