Admittedly, I’m not much of a coupon clipper. At least not paper coupons. I lose them, forget to use them, find them to be annoying to keep track of in general. But electronic coupons and money saving apps? I’m in.
Beyond the usual Googling for promo codes before pressing “place order,” I’ve found there are a multitude of electronic ways to trim your shopping bill- some are simple to use, some require more diligence. My long-time favorite shopping tool is Ebates. It’s an easy one to use- go to their website, find the retailer you want to shop with (if participating), and click to it through the site. Each retailer working with Ebates has a rebate amount listed, usually in the 2-3% range, and by purchasing via the site, that rebate amount is deposited into your Ebates account. When you accumulate rebates of at least $5.01 in your account, Ebates sends you a “Big Fat Check.” You can also add a button to your browser to alert you when Ebates applies. Deals of the week give you higher rebate amounts at the promoted retailers; for instance one week’s deals featured travel, and Best Western’s rebate was 5% rather than the usual 2.5%. Rebates can be combined with coupons, which are often advertised on the site too. Following Living Rich with Coupons led me to a deal last Black Friday that scored small appliances at Kohls for next to nothing after coupon codes, Kohl’s Cash, bonus Ebates, and mail in rebates. Ebates currently is offering a $10 sign up bonus for new users and has a referral bonus program.
Amazon Smile is another easy way to earn cash, but it’s not for you. Shop through Amazon Smile, and you have your regular Amazon experience but Amazon donates .5% of your eligible purchases to a charity you choose from the almost 1 million available, including not only major national ones like the Red Cross, but also local charities. My purchases support Pocono Alliance. You can also download an Amazon Smile reminder button for your browser.
Taking things on the road, there are multiple apps to help you save while in the store. With Target’s Cartwheel app you can find offers for products you plan to buy to your cart, and at checkout, generate a barcode on your phone that contains all of your discounts. For instance, as I write there are offers ranging from 20% off of desks to 25% off Swiss Miss products. If you don’t have a smartphone, no worries, you can add offers through the Target’s Cartwheel website and print a barcode from there.
Have you ever lost your quarterly CVS Extra Bucks? By connecting your Extra Care card to an online account or mobile app, you can reprint those bucks. You can also choose coupons online and send them to your Extra Care card to redeem in the store.
Grocery store websites like our local Price Chopper, Shop Rite, and Weis are treasure troves of recipes and shopping tools. Browse recipes on the site, create your shopping list, and find available coupons from both the store and manufacturers. Scouring the sites and matching weekly sales with coupons and meals plans still takes time, as with paper coupons and circulars, but going digital makes it quicker and more convenient. And for forgetful people like me, having the coupons loaded on your card means never forgetting to use that coupon in your purse. That’s a (guilt) trip I’m glad to bypass.
Next time we’ll look at more mobile apps to help you stretch your shopping dollars.