We’re very excited to announce the winner of the first round of the Coupons.com scholarship. We know how hard students work, and managing their finances is a big part of that. We asked students to share some of their best pieces of advice for saving money, shopping smartly, and being savvy about where their money goes.
Are you a high school or college student? Tell us about your money-saving habits, and enter the next round of the Coupons.com scholarship!
Coupons.com Scholarship WINNER: Kristin Reis, Arizona State University
What are some of your favorite low cost/free/local things to do?
My favorite free local things to do are sponsored by our local library or city center. I take my daughter once a week for free crafts, story telling and to receive coupons to local businesses. It is a few hours of fun at no cost and close to my job and work. We went to a city tree lighting event hosted by the city. My daughter was able to write a letter to Santa, which she will receive a letter back from him before Christmas, she had her face painted, we ate cookies and shared hot cocoa, we made holiday magnets and she visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, all for free!
What are you currently saving for? What’s the hardest part about trying to save?
I am currently saving money to help pay for school and for my daughter to start her first year of preschool. The hardest part about trying to save money is the constant unexpected expenses that arise while working and being a single parent. Just when I think I have finally saved some money I can put towards books, a new computer, sending my daughter to a good school, something unexpected comes up that needs to be taken care of first.
What is a clever way you make money or save money while in school?
One way to make money to help with school that I believe is clever is making clothing for my daughter. I save money on purchasing new clothes for my daughter and I sell accessories and clothing items to make money for supplemental income. I figured even if I do not sell that many items I still save on purchasing expensive clothes for my daughter. I wait for coupons to local fabric stores and only buy fabric that costs a few dollars. A few yards of fabric that only cost me a few dollars, I can make several items and sell them for over ten times the amount I paid for the original fabric.
What’s one tip that’s helped you save money?
One tip that has helped me save money is making a monthly budget of expected expenses and my monthly salary. Working at a school district I only get paid once a month so making a monthly budget is mandatory for me. I always try to look for new ways to save, upcoming deals at markets, new ways to receive more coupons, signing up for free member savings to places I make purchases and only purchasing what is necessary for that month.
What’s the most creative & successful fundraiser you’ve been a part of?
The most successful fundraiser I have been a part of was very dear to my heart. A couple of years ago I helped raise money for the National Lupus Foundation for research. I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis eight years ago and started to participate in events for the foundation shortly after being diagnosed. Two years ago we held a wine and dine at a local eatery. Thirty percent of all food and drinks purchased were donated to my cause. We also charged a small fee for a five by seven canvas for a painting lesson instructed by my friend. Painters had the choice of keeping their masterpiece or donating it to be auctioned at our silent auction held the last hour of the event at the local eatery. I really enjoyed this event. It was so much fun and to be able to help donate money to a cause that matters so much to me was incredible.
How will the scholarship affect your finances?
Working as a Classified employee for a local school district, I do not receive payment during the summer. During the Summer months, I have to budget my money wisely and strategically to cover monthly expenses and pay for school. Winning this scholarship will allow me to add more classes to my schedule without hurting my pockets and bring me a semester closer to receiving my degree.
How do you cope with unexpected expenses?
I always have money saved for an emergency and if unavoidable, I try to find the least expensive solution to take care of the unexpected expense. Putting a small amount of money away for unanticipated costs each month, is a great way to be prepared for the unexpected.
What do you do on an every day basis to help save money or stay on budget?
Every day I make sure that I follow my monthly budget plan that I write at the end of each month. To stay on or under my budget, I constantly look for local deals, coupons or price matching with competitors to receive the lowest price for any purchase I make throughout the month. I also stay on task and try to only make purchases that I have budgeted money for as I only get paid once a month.
What piece of advice would you give a student who is trying to start saving money or start following a budget?
Advice that I would give to a student starting to save or follow a budget would be to remain practical with their finances. Don’t set unrealistic goals and make sure to save a small amount each month for emergencies and fun. Saving money can help reach financial goals or pay off debts but life should still be enjoyed.
I also am a big fan of coupons! You can find so many great coupons online which will help you save on virtually everything – clothes, hair and beauty products, snacks, etc.
What is your favorite “splurge” purchase?
My favorite “splurge” purchase was a action camera with video and underwater capabilities. I love to spend time with my family adventuring new places and activities and there is no better way to capture the memories.
What has been the biggest surprise expense in college?
The biggest expense that surprised me is the actual cost of going to school full time. As a non resident I pay more per unit than residents and financial aid only covers a little more than one class per semester.
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