Five free ways for students to save money

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Alyse Zuiderveen

A student earns stars towards free coffee on their Starbucks rewards app after buying a new fall drink.

Alyse Zuiderveen, Copy Editor

As our post-COVID economy has seen an increase in the cost of living, students find themselves looking for creative ways to save money and finance their expenses. Here are five easy ways that you can save money as a high schooler:

  1. Using receipt-scanning apps

Many apps, such as Fetch Rewards, Ibotta and Checkout 51, allow for shoppers to scan receipts they get at checkout and earn points that can go towards gift cards. For example, Fetch Rewards gives at least 25 points per receipt scanned, with bonuses for certain items listed in the app. Referring friends can get you thousands of points, and every 1,000 points is worth $1 in gift cards. The app offers gift cards for stores like Starbucks, Amazon and Target. You can also get a variety of other rewards such as free subscriptions or sweepstakes. Other apps like Ibotta give you cash back; either way, earning money or gift cards for simply scanning a receipt is incredibly wise!

      2. Using reward apps or punch cards through stores

Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ are known for being quick stops where students can grab a pick-me-up in the morning. Many students including senior Lily Dumas love to use rewards apps for stores like Starbucks when they can. “I think that the Starbucks app is great! It’s super nice to have a free drink, and if you use the app wisely/pay attention you can gain more stars by the challenges. I use punch cards when I can, but only an app for Starbucks,” she shared. While Starbucks and Dunkin’ use apps to collect points, other shops, like Atomic, use the punch cards Dumas referred to. With a punch card, after a certain amount of drink purchases, you can get one for free – a small but important way to save money. Dumas works at Cody Road Coffee, sharing that “[a] lot of times people come in and forget their [punch] card and instead of getting a new one to combine later they pass. Some of these customers come daily so they can be missing out on lots of free coffee in the long run.” Next time you are at a restaurant or coffee shop, you might want to ask if they have a rewards program–they pay off!

      3.  Saving small portions of paychecks

While it is nice to save money after you’ve spent it by using reward apps, punch cards or receipt-scanning apps, starting to save through a savings account is important! Summer Halsey is a senior at PV who has been employed by Fareway for two years. During that time, she has made a point to set aside a part of her paycheck to put in her savings account. She shared that when beginning her savings journey, she found out how much money she needed to live a comfortable lifestyle and determined what percentage of her paycheck she would automatically put into savings. Halsey found that she needed 75 percent of her income for things such as gas, food and coffee and shared that she put the remaining 25 percent into savings. “I recommend finding the money you need weekly then putting in 5% for play/clothes/shoe funds and 20% into overall savings for college,” she shared. These small amounts add up, as Halsey explained, “whenever I need something or if my car breaks down, I have money set aside.”

       4. Saving change 

While cash may seem like a thing of the past, using it for purchases is an effective way to guarantee that you aren’t spending beyond what you have. Many students, however, find that keeping change is annoying and disregard how much change they have, often neglecting it altogether. However, while a change jar sounds like an outdated idea, many have been able to make both large and small purchases as a result of them. For example, finding a place in your car where you can keep change when you get it back from purchases may allow you to have a coffee drink paid for in the near future!

      5. Using Internet shopping apps

As a result of COVID, many students discovered the advantages of shopping online and found new stores that they enjoyed purchasing from. However, many individuals are missing out on savings opportunities while online shopping because they don’t use extensions such as Honey and Rakuten. These extensions notify you of coupons you can use at checkout or will give you cash back in the form of checks. For example, when you enter a website and Honey finds a coupon that you might be able to apply at checkout, you can copy the coupon so it is easy to access at checkout! These are browser extensions, which means that they will often automatically search your cart for deals and apply coupons for you–you just have to install the extension! 

Learning to save money in any way possible is a wise strategy that students can utilize as they prepare for their future. Building wise spending and saving habits now will help students in the future! Happy saving, Spartans!