Monday, August 15, 2011

How to be a Student Savvy Shopper - Shopping On a College Budget

As an avid deal seeker for families throughout Utah I am frequently asked if it’s equally possible for student shoppers to save money on their grocery and retail purchases.  “Absolutely” is my immediate response! Regardless of your marital or even educational status, saving money is easily attainable for every walk of life.  Of course, there are unique challenges for any demographic, but getting around these issues just takes a few considerations.

The first decision a student shopper must consider is storage space.  College/apartment living space is considerably smaller than a rental home.  When you’re sharing 4 cupboards with 6 roommates, who’s eating what and who actually paid for it becomes cloudy at times.  Consider buying in group purchases for the entire apartment.  Assigning one shopper for all the roommates can actually save the group significantly more money when you’re able to buy in bulk or case lot sales.  It doesn’t even have to be that big of a roommate grocery co-op.  Consider sharing pantry staples like block cheese, milk, bread, boxed cereal, flour, sugar etc…  One roommate won’t likely be able to eat a 2 lb block of cheese before the mold creeps in, but per ounce it’s 50% less than buying an 8 oz block. Divide equal roommate amounts into reusable storage containers for portion control. Sharing food and shopping skills can pay off for everyone, as long as you’re willing and able to share!

The next consideration is budget. Students, like families can add savings and stretch their budget using coupons.  If you’re buying as a group, multiple Sunday newspaper subscriptions are great for shaving  a couple hundred dollars off your monthly grocery bills.  If you are buying for one, consider printable coupon websites like and  These websites offer free multiple printable coupons for everyday products, including milk, cheese, cleaning products and personal hygiene items.  Users are allowed to print 2 of each identical coupon per website.  And don’t forget manufacturer Facebook pages and websites as a great resource for printable coupons!  These online and in-print savings really add up!

Lastly, student shoppers definitely need to consider shopping the ads.  That means buying items when they go on sale at stock up prices.  You may only eat ramen noodles and mac and cheese, but both of these items go on sale for 60% off retail price at multiple times throughout the year.  When you see a case lot sale on your favorite Asian noodles or cheesy pasta, buy a case and store it under your bed.  The next time you need a pack, just shop your “under the bed store” where everything is always on sale and never go hungry again (just don’t store your stinky gym shoes there too!).  Don’t know what  to buy or when an advertised “Stock up” deal is really a deal?  It’s easy – just shop the front page any grocery or retail ad.  These items are called “loss leaders”.  In other words, the store is leading you in to shop at their store by displaying their hottest prices (lowest revenue products) on page 1.  Of course, the goal is to have you buy your entire grocery list as well, not just front page items, while you’re there, but that’s up to you.  Page 1 is a great place to start.

Being a student and savvy shopper can be synonymous.  Implement these simple shopping strategies and educate yourself to save!  For more ideas on how to save money at the grocery store and for customizable, free shopping lists for your favorite grocer or retailer, visit, your source for savings.

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