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I’m the first to admit that I’m not organized enough to use newspaper coupons. If I actually find time to clip them and attempt to organize them, I forget about them or lose them before I get a chance to use them!
So how do I use coupons to save money on groceries and other essentials for my family? My approach relies heavily on my computer, iPhone, and printer, so I guess you have to be pretty comfortable with technology to coupon these days. But saving money is a big motivator for me – I’ll learn how to do all sorts of new things to save my family some cash!
Here are my top five tips & tricks for using coupons, some of which may be new to you.
1. “Clip” Those Digital Coupons
I absolutely love getting stuff I need delivered to my doorstep for less than what I would pay for it in a store. I like going to Walmart about as much as a trip to the dentist so I avoid it at all costs. Lucky for me, there are plenty of ways to save money without a trip to the big box store, including “clipping” digital coupons.
I often use digital coupons to save money on essentials that I can order online and have delivered to my house. I wrote entire posts on how to stretch your dollars at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com, including instructions on how to “clip” their digital coupons. I most often use them in conjunction with Amazon Subscribe & Save items. I have used these digital coupons to save BIG on groceries, toilet paper, paper towels, hair care, skin care, makeup, and lots more. Here is a quick link to all the current available coupons on Amazon and Drugstore.
2. Use Favado To Find Coupon Match-Ups
I also print online coupons at home, cut them out and use them in-store. I particularly try to use them when they “match up” with a store sale to save even more. But I know many people wonder how to find coupons online for what is on sale without investing hours each week. I use an app called Favado that does this for me.
I just chose my favorite store (for example, I do all of our grocery shopping at Food Lion and our local co-op Weaver Street Market) and Favado shows me what is on sale that week, ranking the items in terms of the best deals. If an item has a paperclip next to it, that means there is a coupon or rebate available to sweeten the deal. In the app I can make a list of the items I want to buy, email the list to myself, then print off the coupons that match the items on sale. Amazing!
I also watch out for online coupons for items I often purchase and try to print them right away when I find them. If it’s something I plan to stock up on, I will print up to four coupons (two from my computer and two from my husband’s). I share lots of great coupons here on the blog so I suggest subscribing by email to get all of the newest and best coupons!
3. Work The Money-Saving Grocery Apps
In addition to Favado I use six other smart phone apps that give me cash-back rebates on groceries. That might seem like a lot but it really only takes a a few minutes each week to check out what offers are available and redeem them. The apps I use are:
My favorites are Ibotta and SavingStar, though you might like others based on your shopping preferences. For example, I have saved $111.75 on groceries with Ibotta since I started using it last October. Not a bad return for a few minutes of my time each week! Learn more in my post on how to join Ibotta and my post on the other grocery apps.
4. Know Your Stores’ Coupon Policies
Did you know that most stores will allow you to use up to four of the same manufacturer’s coupons in one visit? You have buy one item for each coupon (i.e. you can’t use four of the same coupon on only one item) but you are totally allowed to stock up and use all of your coupons at once! Stores share their coupon policies on their websites so its not a bad idea to read through them to understand how coupons can be used at your favorite stores.
Some stores also offer their own store-specific coupons to shoppers, such as Target, Whole Foods and Food Lion. These are coupons you can print online (here are links to current Target Store Coupons and Whole Foods Store Coupons) or that print in a kiosk in-store like at Food Lion. These stores allow you to use their store coupon AND a manufacturer’s coupon on the same item which is called “stacking” coupons. Stacking coupons can make for huge savings and sometimes free items!
5. Find Other Money-Saving Programs at Stores You Frequent
Finally, there are even more ways to save on top of sales, rebates and coupons depending on where you shop. Stores have started offering their own unique programs to keep shoppers coming back and its a good idea to learn about the programs offered where you most frequently shop.
For example, Target shoppers can take advantage of the Cartwheel app for in-store savings on certain items. Walgreens offers Register Rewards and Balance Rewards which are forms of cash back that can be redeemed on future shopping trips. Rite Aid has +UP rewards and CVS has ExtraCare rewards… you get the idea. While I certainly don’t use all of these programs, I have made it a point to learn about the rewards program at Walgreens since it is our closest drugstore. I would suggest picking one or two stores to focus on and learn everything you can about their unique programs.
I hope these tips & tricks help you save your family money without losing your mind! There is a learning curve to stretching your dollars with these tactics, so don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed at first. You will soon be saving like a pro! Add your own tip in a comment below.