I became obsessed with coupons and finding the best deal when I first moved out on my own. I would use coupons every chance I got, and had a huge stock pile of items from doing that. What I started to realize was that the coupons weren’t doing me any good. They weren’t saving me any money, because I was buying items that I wouldn’t have without the coupon, or buying too many. Within a short period of time I had enough laundry detergent to last me 2 years! Not to mention the pain of searching online and through the papers for any and all coupons in existence. I soon forgot all about coupons and focused completely on whatever sale items were available at the grocery store.
I decided at the start of the year that saving money would be a huge focus for me. There are two ways I’m going to accomplish this.
The first way is to shop less.
Shop less. Right. Much easier said than done. It’s the second week of February and I’m already failing miserably at this. Why is that? Because I must have all the clothes, and shoes, and purses, and accessories. Also, because most of my online shopping is done in the States and the dollar is horrendous right now.
The second way is to start finding little ways to cut down on expenses. How do you cut down on using as much gas? How do you cut down the cost of your bills? What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to save some money?
For me, the easiest way to balance expenses, and save money, is to find extra money where I can. Whether that means selling things, using coupons, or cashing in on rebates, there are so many ways to go about your regular spending habits, but still get some extra money back.
I sometimes try and sell items through Kijiji and Trend Trunk (both Canadian) but there are also websites like eBay, Poshmark, different online consignment stores, or I often take my clothes to the local Plato’s Closet because I get the money upfront without all the work involved.
Those are just some of the ways to make some extra money.
Aside from selling your items, coupons are a great way to save some money. Like I mentioned above though, they can often be seen as more of a hassle than anything. The new rise in coupon apps is the perfect solution. I currently use 5 different ones, and they are as simple as just uploading pictures of your receipt, marking off which coupons you want to use, and the amount is applied to your account. I thought I would take some time today to share some of these great apps with you!
Checkout 51 was the first coupon app that I downloaded. I used it a couple times and then stopped, but have recently started using it once again. Every Thursday new items are listed, and you have until Wednesday to claim your receipt. There are limited numbers for each coupon so make sure that you claim it as soon as you purchase. You can also only claim each coupon once. Receipts are generally processed within 48 hours. Once your account reaches $20, they will send you a cheque.
I like Checkout 51 for the variety of brands and products that they have coupons available for. You can save on anything from paper goods, to beauty products, to grocery items. Another benefit is that most of the coupons are good for use on single items. Often times coupons can be buy one get one, or buy two save $x.xx. They often trick you into spending more money than you would have otherwise. A majority of the coupons available on Checkout 51 are for use on just single purchase items.
An example of a great deal I recently got, Pringles were on sale at Wal-Mart for $1.47 each. At the same time, Checkout 51 had a deal for $2 off Pringles when you buy three. So ultimately, I got three cans of Pringles for only $2.40. It’s a product that I would have purchased for the sale price anyway, so it was great to save some extra money on it.
Snap by Groupon (referral link) is one of my more recent downloads. Each coupon is available in limited quantities, and once you reach $20, or more, you can log into your account and request a pay out. If you are inactive for more than 12 months they may start deducting a balance from your account for a monthly maintenance fee. As long as you stay active there are no fees.
My favourite thing about Snap is the practicality of the coupons. Just this week I saved $1.00 for buying milk. The only stipulation attached to that was that it needed to cost me more than $1.00. It didn’t matter what brand, size, or type.
They also have coupons for buying fruits & veggies, though those go extremely fast.
It’s very rare that you will find a coupon that doesn’t specify the exact brand or size that you need to buy, or for everyday items like produce. In an effort to be more healthy, I have been buying a lot of fruits and vegetables, which I have discovered is not cheap to do. My grocery bill has definitely gone up since I started to eat more fresh.
Some coupons you can even use more than once, which is great if you like to buy multiples.
CartSmart deals run from Thursday to Wednesday and it is an all in one grocery shopping app. You have access to store flyers and can even type out your shopping list. They have a variety of items from yeast, to BBQ sauce, to juice and cold medicine. They also pay out via PayPal and do not require a minimum amount.
It’s definitely a benefit that they don’t have a minimum amount that you have to earn, and I like the simplicity of them using PayPal. I have yet to redeem any coupons on this site as there haven’t been any relevant to what I’m shopping for yet. In fact, I haven’t heard of most of the items, products, or brands. I’ll definitely keep the app on my phone though. If I needed to collect a minimum amount before cashing out it wouldn’t be nearly as appealing for me.
I can see the access to flyers and a grocery list to be a benefit to people. Personally, I like to use “Out Of Milk” (available on Apple and Android) for my grocery list, and will continue to do so for now.
Zweet is another new one of mine. Currently, once you reach $20 you can request a payout in the form of a cheque. As they expand into the US, they are also looking at including the option of receiving a pay out through PayPal. They are also currently working on a refer-a-friend program and Zweet points loyalty program. Zweet points will allow you to redeem gift cards, products, and even trips.
I’m really enjoying Zweet so far, because it’s another app that has practical items. Everything from bananas, coffee, chips and ice cream. They are brands that I’m familiar with, and ones I would say are fairly common. Just this past weekend I received .50 cents off a VH sauce, .25 cents off bananas, and received 10 Zweet points. The amounts aren’t high, but they are items that I am buying regardless. They also are healthier items like Olive Oil, Almond Milk etc. I love any coupons that don’t encourage you to eat crappy processed foods.
Changio operates in a different way than the aforementioned companies. Rather than working through coupons and receiving money back, you actually collect points that can be redeemed for coupons. Not only do you earn points by purchasing specific items, you can also earn by “checking in” at different places, or just scanning the bar code of certain items. There are offers available at grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores etc. Once you earn enough points you can redeem them for cash, or gift cards to places like Amazon, Subway, Cineplex etc., or you can even make a donation!
How easy is it to take out your phone when you’re at a store and check in? Or to look for a couple extra products to scan the barcode of? It’s such simple tasks, and while it may take awhile to add up, why not do it?
I don’t have many points yet, and I think it will take a bit of time to get enough to redeem for anything, but for the few minutes extra it takes while I’m at a store I’m definitely going to continue to use it.
Saving Star is free to use, but they will impose a $1.99 fee if you are inactive for 12 months. You can redeem after only $5, in the form cashing out to PayPal, to your bank account, or donating to a charity.
They have coupons available for grocery shopping, as well as various online offers.
This app is only available in the US so I can’t actually speak too much about it. I do know people who use it though, and I recommend that you check it out!
I have five coupon apps downloaded, and I plan on utilizing each of them. There are just so many benefits to them, and it’s a great way to save some money. The only downfall to these apps is that you don’t see the savings right away. You have to wait and collect a certain amount before you reap the benefits of the savings. You know what though, I’m okay with that. I set myself a weekly budget for groceries, and try my hardest to stick close to that. I look at these coupons as nothing but extra savings. I will never count them as part of my budget, but when I request pay outs I will see them as extra cash.
It’s also great to buy items that are already on sale and still be able to use coupons. Sometimes there is also an overlap of items between the two apps. I bought 5 bananas on the weekend for $1.64. Two different apps has a coupon for .25 cents off. While you would never be able to use two coupons on one item, these apps allow you to claim multiple savings on the same item. How awesome?
The biggest waste of money when buying groceries, is buying too much and having it go bad. I buy my fruits and veggies on a weekly basis, so I know those will always be fresh, but what about other items that expire? Do you even know what you all have in your cupboards at home? I know that I’ve gone grocery shopping, only to come home and found out that I already had two bottles of the same salad dressing in the cupboard. It was a spur of the moment purchase because I thought we needed more. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep track of everything like that all in one handy place? Well, there’s an app for that!
Grocery King seems to be the solution to any overstock issue that you have ever had. This app does it all.
The first benefit is with the grocery list. You can make it generic, or store specific and get easy access to the store hours, or an alert when you are near a retailer. I know I sometimes write something down on a list, and then when I get to the store I can’t remember which brand or flavor I use. Well, with this app you can actually include pictures of the product. This would also be handy if you are getting your significant other, roommate or family to pick something up for you. You can also easily to price comparisons between retailers to make sure you are getting the best deal out there. You can also set it up to automatically add items to the grocery list. If there is something you buy every week, you can just select for it to be added to your list on a weekly basis.
You can also keep pictures of all your receipts in this app. This can come in handy if you ever need to reference the cost of something or remember where it came from. Much easier than shifting through 10 other receipts!
You can scan any loyalty card and coupon. This would be a benefit for anyone who uses paper coupons and has a lot of loyalty cards. Rather than shifting through your wallet trying to find the right one, or looking for that one coupon in a stack of 20 (anyone else picturing George Costanza’s wallet?), you have it all in one place with easy access. It will even let you know if a coupon is going to be expiring soon!
My favourite part of this app is that you can track your stock. You can input what groceries you have for up to 12 different locations (fridge, cupboard etc) and you never have to worry about over buying again! You can also enter expiry dates so you know just when something is going to expire, and you either know to buy more or to use it up.
My second favourite part is that you can sync and share all of this information! This can be incredibly helpful if you have multiple people buying groceries because you will both be looking at the same information. I’m the main grocery shopper, and my husband goes when I don’t get something he wants. If he is unsure about buying something he can check out the list to see if it’s something we already have in our cupboard, or if it was on my list he could mark it off as purchased. Though, the big question is whether or not he would actually use it.
You can scan a barcode of any item and it will instantly compare prices at other retailers. This feature is currently only available in the US, but that’s a great addition to save some extra money.
This is a lot of information in one place. As I said above, I’m partial to using “Out Of Milk” but this app is amazing. I haven’t utilized it yet, but when I have a week off work I plan on entering everything into the app and keeping track of what we have, and what we need.
The last area I’m going to cover (let’s face it, this post is more than long enough already!) is online shopping. As I mentioned earlier, I want all the things, and do a lot of online shopping because of that. While some sites have great deals, it’s always awesome to get some extra money back on top of that!
Ebates (referral code) is available in the US and Canada and is probably one of the most popular and well known “money back” sites. All you have to do is log on to Ebates, find the site you want to buy from, go to that site through their link, and you’re on your way to making cash back. The cash back percent varies depending on the site, and sometimes they will have deals that increases the percentage. Also some sites, like Amazon, will have a varying percentage depending on what category you are shopping under. You can use this in conjunction with any deals the site may be having.
If you do a lot of shopping online, you may as well do it through Ebates! The only extra step is rather than going straight to the site, you need to access it through Ebates. Easy peasy.
In all honesty, I could go on for awhile yet talking about all the great ways to save money online and with apps. There are so many resources to help us get some of our money back and some are definitely better than others. I’m really going to focus on saving as much as I can, and saving money with shopping and groceries are going to make the biggest difference, you know, outside of not shopping.