I come from a coupon-loving gene pool.
When I was little, my dad had a Christmas tradition of giving each of his relatives a bag full of non-perishable groceries — items he had purchased throughout the year — along with a receipt showing how little he’d paid for each item. It was always quite an impressive Christmas morning moment.
I’ve been with my mother on several occasions when, while checking out at a cash register, the cashier looks at her, confused, and says, “Um…it says we owe YOU seven cents…”
While I admire and appreciate these habits, I’m not a coupon clipper myself. I find the process overwhelming, and plus we do the majority of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, where coupons aren’t an option. Kevin and I tried getting into couponing for a while a few years ago, but it just didn’t stick.
Now, that’s not to say I don’t love a good deal. I consider myself to be pretty astute at finding great discounts when it comes to online shopping (you just have to Google around a bit!), and definitely love to save money when I can.
If you’re like me — budget conscious to a degree, but also just not wired to be a couponer — you might be interested in these three ways I’ve discovered to get deals (both in-store and online). (I like to keep the list rather short because then I’m more likely to actually use these savings tools rather than get too overwhelmed with options. Life’s busy enough, right?):
- Ebates: Y’all. I can’t sing enough praises about Ebates. (This might sound familiar if you’re a frequent Curiouser & Curiouser reader, as I’ve written about Ebates before.) If you ever find yourself shopping online, you MUST sign up for this — and you MUST install the browser button. For those of you unfamiliar with this process, the gist is that Ebates captures a percentage of your online purchases that are Ebates compatible (and many of them will be!) and tracks that percentage back to your Ebates account. Then, once a quarter, you’ll get what Ebates calls a “Big Fat Check” (either in actual hard-copy check form or via a PayPal payment) totaling the amount of cash back you’ve earned during the last three months. It’s SO easy, and if you’re going to be making those online purchases anyway, you only have something to gain. You can use their app to shop via your mobile device as well. Seriously — please sign up today (and don’t forget to install the browser button, which will ensure you never miss a chance to earn cash back.)
- Ibotta: This is an app-based coupon tool that I find so much easier to use than most individual store apps/coupon systems. I use it exclusively at grocery stores (and Target), but it’s compatible at many other retail outlets as well. I love that I can use Ibotta at most of the main grocery stores here in our area (not at Trader Joe’s or Publix, though), and it’s super user friendly. You just select the store you’ll be shopping at, page through the offers they have available and select the ones you plan to use, then after you shop you scan the barcode of each discounted product and upload an image of your store receipt. Next thing you know, you have money in your Ibotta account, which you can transfer to a PayPal account once you’ve reached a certain threshold! I’ve loved using this app, and especially like how many of their offers are brand agnostic (e.g., “$1.00 cash back on any brand of bread”).
- Target’s Cartwheel App: This is so worth having, in my opinion. (This is coming from a frequent Target shopper, but I have a feeling many of you fall into that category as well!) The savings aren’t always huge on this app — 5% here, 15% there — but I find that if I make my shopping list first and then see if anything on my list is on Cartwheel, it’s a great system. I’m not purchasing things just because they’re on sale, but if I needed toothpaste or bananas or nail polish remover and happen to find a 10% Cartwheel deal? Yeah — count me in! (I also love when Cartwheel offers overlap with Ibotta deals for even more savings!) Also, Cartwheel can be awesome when making larger purchases at Target (say baby gear or an area rug or something). And they often have a great deal on shoes and clothes — always a good thing!
For those of you fellow deal lovers out there — what are your favorite ways to save?