Let’s face it, law school is expensive. Most law students will end up with a staggering amount of debt when they graduate, and then there are the costs associated with taking the bar exam after graduation. Why add to that growing debt with your everyday living expenses like groceries, clothing and other sundries? In the past, we have discussed how to dress like a lawyer on a law student’s budget and how to make cheap and healthy meals in law school. Today, we are going to talk about ways to save money on everything else.
Finding coupons or searching for sales can be time-consuming. Time is a commodity in law school, so don’t waste it by sitting there with scissors and a newspaper insert clipping coupons. I’ll share with you my secret weapon to saving money on the go – my smartphone.
Although we know a smartphone can sometimes be distracting in law school, it has some redeeming qualities as well. It can help keep you organized and it can even save you a lot of money! To get started, download these apps and start saving today!
If you do a lot of shopping at Target, downloading Cartwheel will save you money in the long run. They regularly have deals on everything from milk to personal care items. As you walk around the store and add items to your cart, do a quick search within the app and add those items to your list. When you checkout you pull up a page with one barcode the cashier can scan.
Tip: Make sure that you sign up for Target text alerts as well. They often text out coupons like $10 off of $50 in groceries and other special offers.
If Wal-Mart is near your campus, this app is a must have in your savings arsenal. After your shopping trip, just scan in your receipt and Savings Catcher will work its magic. The apps look at nearby stores and if they find a lower price on any of the items that you purchased, they deposit the difference in an account you can cash in for a Wal-Mart gift card. Although you won’t get rich from your savings, it takes just a few seconds and for frequent WalMart Shoppers, it adds up. You can also submit to Ibotta for even more savings!
Ibotta offers a rebate if you purchase specific items at the grocery or drug store. You can find rebates on items like bread, milk and vegetables. In a few clicks, choose the items you bought, snap a picture of the receipt, and snap a pic of the barcode. Your rebates are added to an account and you can withdraw via paypal when you reach $20 or more or trade in for gift cards from retailers like Amazon, Starbucks and BestBuy. The savings add up quickly.
Tip: Get in the habit of using Ibotta when you put your groceries away. It takes just a few minutes.
Retail Me Not is my go-to source online for finding coupon codes for online shopping. The app offers even more savings options by allowing you to use select coupons in the store. This app also uses your location to show you deals near you. Use this before you head to the store so you aren’t missing out on a great deal!
Ebates gives you cash back on online purchases from certain retailers. Some offers can top 10% back. If you purchase anything online, check if it is a retailer that partners with Ebates. When you make your purchase by going through this app, your sale is recorded and a few weeks later you will see your rebate in your account. You can cash in your rebate via check or paypal after a threshold of $5 is met. Last year, I received a few hundred dollars in rebates just by making my purchases through Ebates.
Tip: With so many stores offering in-store pickup (like Target, Walmart, etc.), purchase your items ahead online to take advantage of the rebate and pick up in store. Another tip, use Retail Me Not to find the best coupon codes first and then purchase the item through the Ebates app.
Just because you are a poor law student, doesn’t mean you have to act like one. If you live in a big city, there are many choices for dining and entertainment at 50% off or more. Use this app to try out new restaurants or high-end restaurants you may not otherwise be able to afford. It’s also as simple (and inconspicuous) as using Apple Pay! Just show your server the barcode on your phone when your check comes.The Groupon app also makes it easy to store your vouchers and to find deals near you. They also have electronics and other items at discounts as high as 75% through Groupon Goods.
Tip: Pay attention to the fine print. Most vouchers have restrictions. Add the expiration date of the voucher to your Google calendar or iCal and set a reminder for the week before so you don’t forget to use it.
A general rule, I price check any single item over $25 that I am going to buy. I just grab my smartphone and double check the price on Amazon. You can drive yourself crazy trying to find a better price and there are hundreds, if not thousands of apps that will scour the web for the best prices. I found that most of the time, Amazon has a pretty competitive price. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: if the price is less on Amazon, take your phone to customer service, show them the lower price you find elsewhere and some stores will match the price. You just have to ask.
Being a law student on a budget doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. It can be easy to save money in law school with the technology you already have at your fingertips. Do you have any tips on how you save money while in law school? Leave them in the comments below!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Dressing Like a Lawyer on a Students Budget
- Fast, Healthy, and Cheap Eating in Law School
- The Secrets That 1L’s Need To Know
- Free Resources for Law Students
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