5 ways to save when you spend

(Sarah Kladler/ Fourth Estate)

(Sarah Kladler/ Fourth Estate)

Rachel Shubin, Staff Writer

It’s not news that college students are often pretty strapped for cash. But who has time to sit around cutting out coupons? Fortunately, there are many ways to save money that do not require you to become an extreme couponer.

Fourth Estate is here to bring you the tricks of the trade to save money and earn freebies so you can save cash when you spend.

Target’s Cartwheel app – A quick trip into Target can easily turn into a cartful of items you did not intend to buy. An easy way to save money at Target is through its coupon app, Cartwheel, which allows you to peruse the store’s many discounts ranging from five percent to 50 percent off full price.

Junior Ashley Buttaro is an avid user of the Cartwheel app. “I love not using paper coupons,” she said. “It’s much more convenient because whenever I think of something I need, I can use the app to see if there is a discount.”

The Cartwheel app will show you the percentage off the items but not the price before or after the discount.

“A lot of times in the stores, items can be sold out right away if it’s a really good deal, since so many people use the app,” Buttaro said. “I would like to see if Target added the price with the discount, so you can see exactly how much it will cost.”

Coupons.com – For those who do not have access to the weekly Sunday Washington Post’s coupons, coupons.com can be a great alternative. This site allows users to virtually ‘clip’ the coupons they want to use and print them out easily. The site also features local area offers and is also available as app. iPhone users can add coupons to their wallet app, thus avoiding having to print the actual coupon.

Student ID – Did you know you can use your student ID to get discounts at local stores and restaurants? Qdoba, located in the Main Street shopping center in Fairfax, offers college students a 10 percent discount with the purchase of a meal and drink. IHOP does a 50 percent discount for students on Thursdays.

Outlet stores also offer great student discounts. The Kate Spade outlet store in Leesburg, for one, offers students a 15 percent discount with a student ID. Senior Mallory Delacruz has taken advantage of this particular discount.  “It’s great to save an additional 15 percent off of the already reduced outlet prices,” she said.

Starbucks & Dunkin’ Donut apps – College students often start their day with a big cup of coffee. There are many coffee shops on and nearby campus, where Mason students can easily be spotted, like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Both coffee shops offer rewards programs.

The Starbucks app allows users to register their gift cards, track their spending, and reload and earn rewards. Customers receive one star per purchase, and 15 stars add up to a free reward. When users purchase 30 beverages in a calendar year, they become a Gold Card holder and receive a special gold card, which earns them a reward every 12 purchases. The app also offers discounts and chances to earn bonus stars.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ Perks app works similarly, allowing users to register a gift card, track their spending, and reload and earn rewards. Every 200 points, users earn a free drink. The app often offers free 99-cent medium iced coffees, discounts and bonus points. In addition, all Dunkin’ Donuts receipts sent through the app come with a survey that, when completed, gives customers an access code for a free donut with a medium or large drink purchase.

Senior Maddie Culbertson doesn’t use the Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts apps, despite knowing they offer an easy way to save money.

“Truthfully, I don’t know why I don’t use these apps,” she said. “I think it’s because I just like having everything I purchase on one card or in cash. I feel like I might buy coffee out too much if I had the apps.”

eBates app/website – If you are shopping online, eBates is a phenomenal way to earn cash back from your purchases. All you have to do is create an account through eBates’ app or web page, browse to find the stores you shop at, then order your merchandise through eBates.

Every three months, eBates sends you your cash back via PayPal or a check. Users can earn bonuses when their friends or family members sign up for eBates using a referral code and make their first purchase.