Students Learn Extreme Couponing

A recent service learning project at Shepherd, “Extreme Couponing for Hunger,” taught 83 students the art of couponing while also aiding local food banks.

The students of these classes were each given $5 and sent out to the market with the task of purchasing as much food as they could by only spending the $5. They were to utilize coupons, bonus cards and store sales. The food that they purchased was to be donated to the Caring Cupboard and Community Ministries, two local food banks.

The money for the project was donated from Asbury United Methodist, Shepherdstown Lutheran Parish and the Student Community Services and Service Learning.

The students from Rudolph Bropleh’s ECON 123 class were successful in their shopping trips. The average savings among the three classes was 61 percent, or about $56 per class.

The students found coupons for their purchases from several couponing Web sites and in-store ads. Most students shopped at such stores as Food Lion, Martin’s, Weis, Rite Aid, and Save-A-Lot. Another factor for the savings was the students’ in-store bonus cards, which often give the user access to specific sales or extra percentages off.

The students had two weeks to complete their shopping before returning and presenting their experiences to the class. From the in-class presentations, it became clear that couponing is not as easy as clip and save.

The students spoke about the difficulty of finding valuable coupons online and then utilizing them in class. Students expressed their respect for regular couponing and the amount of work that it takes. The class received some advice from extreme couponer Joshua Belice, an instructor at Shepherd, on how extreme couponing works.

Service Learning Coordinator Summer Williams said, “A big take away from the project was that couponing can indeed save you quite a bit of money, but it can be difficult and time consuming.”

Service Learning is a valuable tool and allows for a learning experience and resources for both parties involved. The food banks benefited from the students’ financial education as much as the students gained from the project. Bropleh tries to connect his classroom with the community by teaching to optimize resources in real life. Bropleh believes that the more relevant a subject is to a student’s life, the more successful it is to the students.

In addition to the donation to the food bank, the students from the class taught their new money saving skills to Shepherdstown Area Independent Living residents to help the seniors stretch out their food budgets. The students gained a valuable insight into building better lives for themselves and others while learning about the economic history of the residents. The leftover coupons from the project were donated to Community Ministries, which is setting up an area for clients to look for coupons as part of their assistance.

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