Extreme beauty savings for college students

It's no TLC's "Extreme Couponing" but Jessi Vantoll shares how she saves major bucks on her favorite beauty buys--and how you can, too.

photo from allwomensweekend.com

I’m a sucker for buying the latest and greatest new beauty products — that’s why I’m obsessed with the drugstore. I find myself going to Walgreens, Rite Aid and Target every week to get my beauty fix. But the further I get through college, the smaller my beauty budget gets. Until recently, I thought I had to contain myself to buying only the essential products. Scary, right? Then TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” showed me that I didn’t have to limit my shopping — I just had to be more strategic about it.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have the time or resources to do the things that those crazy coupon ladies do — and you’re probably right. The amount of inserts and hours they spend snagging the latest deals are unrealistic and borderline crazy. After seeing the insane savings these women pull off, I thought, how can I make this couponing thing work for my tastes and a college budget?

Then it hit me: Beauty products are one of the main types of coupons that are in every Sunday paper. And since I spend a good chunk of change on beauty items, I knew I could make this work.

Now you may not be hauling away from the store with cart loads of free eyeshadow and hairspray, but the savings you could find can add up.

Here are a few tips that have worked wonders on my wallet:

  • Check your Sunday paper for ads. There you will find all the weekly ads from all the stores in the area along with a coupon insert. Unless you want to start hoarding, one paper is all you need for each weeks sales.
  • Match up store sales with coupons to get prices down even further. There’s nothing like the rush a great sale — except when you can get that price even lower with a coupon.
  • Print off online coupons. Two of my favorite sites are smartsource.com and coupons.com. You can also ‘like’ different companies on Facebook for coupons and special offers. Companies like L’Oreal, Garnier, and John Frieda often post BOGO coupons and even coupons for free hair dyes exclusively for their fans.
  • Find stores with store exclusive coupons. At Target, you can go online and print beauty coupons valid at Target only. At Walgreens, they print their coupons in their weekly ads. These stores will let you use their store exclusive coupons in combination with a manufacturer coupon for double the savings.
  • Utilize return coupons. We’ve all seen these coupons at all drugstores and even grocery stores because they ultimately want you to come back to the store. They promise you a coupon on your next visit if you spend X amount of dollars on certain products.
exampling of "clipping" beauty coupons from coupons.com

Here is an example of my savings. Last week John Freida had all of its hair care on sale for $5 each (retail price $6.50) and if you bought $15 worth of products, you got $5 off your next purchase.  In addition to the savings I got from the sale, I also had two $2 off coupons and one $1 off coupon.  So after coupons, my whole transaction only cost me $10 (retail price $19.50).  And no, unlike some of the extreme measures some couponers take, I didn’t have to go dumpster diving to find all those coupons. They were all in my Sunday paper. I now also have a $5 off coupon that I plan on using on a new tube of lipstick for fall that I will get absolutely free!

This is really something that any college student can do. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. All you need is some scissors and a sales paper to see your total add up to some serious savings.