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  • Heather McDorman

Couponing and Rebate Apps:

Your Key to Saving With a Smile

Woman using coupon app on smart phone

Hey there, savvy savers! Are you ready to unlock the secret to saving money while keeping that infectious smile on your face? Look no further than the dynamic duo of coupons and rebate apps!

I became interested in couponing as a new homemaker in the ‘90s. I clipped coupons, sorted them in a nifty coupon organizer, and updated my stash every Sunday after the newspaper arrived. I was never an extreme couponer, as they were called back in the day, but I did get excited by saving 5-10% on our grocery bill each week. As life got busier, my homemaker-hobby went by the wayside.

Now that I’m retired, I wanted to get back in the game. I liked the idea of saving money as more of a hobby than a necessity. It’s like a puzzle or game I want to conquer. Again, I didn’t want to go to the extreme – I don’t want a storage room with shelves and shelves of stockpiled items – but I liked the idea of “winning” at the big box store (like Target), the drugstore, or grocery store checkout.

So how can you harness the power of these money-saving tools without going to extremes? Before you embark on a thrifty adventure that will leave your wallet and your mood feeling oh-so-happy, let’s learn more about what’s out there.

Understanding Coupons

Coupons are like magical tickets to discounted bliss. From traditional paper coupons to digital ones, there are various ways to snag these money-saving gems.

General Coupons

Keep your eyes peeled for coupon inserts in newspapers and check out printable coupon websites. I’m partial to using digital coupons – it’s easier than toting around paper coupons that may have expired.

Store Coupons

Don't forget about store-specific coupons and loyalty programs. Examples might include the Target Circle app that includes coupons and sometimes dollars-off deals for a minimum purchase. Drug stores like CVS and Walgreens have really upped their coupon game through their apps. Both chains have robust apps that feature a wide variety of store-generated coupons and manufacturer coupons, and you can earn rewards dollars for buying specific products. Those dollars can then be used for purchasing future rewards dollar deals!

Woman using mobile app to save at the grocery store

For groceries, I use my local grocery store reward apps for digital coupons and reviewing the weekly sale ads. Of course, coupling sales with coupons results in bigger savings.

Exploring Rebate Apps

Welcome to the world of rebate apps, where savings are just a few taps away. These nifty apps offer cashback and rebates on everyday purchases, making it effortless to put money back in your pocket. Explore popular rebate apps like Ibotta, Rakuten, and Checkout 51 to discover a treasure trove of savings waiting for you. Scan receipts, shop through the app, and watch your savings grow!

The grocery store reward apps mentioned above also include 1-2% rebate on all my grocery purchases (I save up my reward dollars for big grocery purchases for expensive holiday meals).

Mobile Apps Glossary

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular coupon and rebate apps. To add them to your mobile phone, just Google the name or look them up in your phone’s app store.

Checkout 51

Offers users cashback rewards for purchasing specific products at any store and uploading a photo of the receipt.

Coupons

Offers users a convenient way to access and redeem digital coupons for savings at a variety of retailers and restaurants.

Fetch

Offers users cashback rewards and savings on everyday purchases by scanning receipts from participating retailers.


Fetch mobile app logo

Ibotta

Provides users with cashback rewards for shopping at partner stores and submitting receipts.

Rakuten

Offers users cashback rewards for online shopping at a wide range of partner stores.

Retail Me Not

Provides users with access to a wide range of coupons, deals, and discounts for various retailers and online stores.

Shopkick

Rewards users with points, or "kicks," for shopping at participating stores, which can be redeemed for gift cards or other rewards.

Swagbucks

Allows users to earn rewards, such as gift cards and cash, by completing various online activities, including completing surveys, watching videos, and shopping.

Creating a Strategy for Couponing and Using Rebate Apps

To maximize your savings potential, it's essential to create a game plan.

  • Set goals for how much you’d like to spend (and save) each month and create a realistic budget.

  • Meal planning and making shopping lists can help you stay focused and avoid impulse purchases.

  • By combining sales, coupons, and rebate app offers strategically, you'll be amazed at the money you can save on your favorite products.

Practical Tips for Success

Organization is the key to couponing triumph.

  • Keep your coupons and rebate app offers in order, whether it's a trusty coupon binder or a dedicated folder on your phone.

  • Stay up to date with promotions and discounts by following brands and stores on social media and subscribing to newsletters.

  • And don't forget to keep an eye on expiration dates and terms to make the most of your savings opportunities.

Case Studies: Real-Life Savings

Need a little inspiration? Here are some of my recent coupons and/or rebate “wins.”

  • I just scored a $50 gift card (I picked Home Goods from a long list of retailers) by uploading photos of my receipts through the Fetch app. It took me a few months, but the small amount of effort is worth it to me.


HomeGoods gift card

  • I have learned *never* to pay for toothpaste. I buy my favorite and fancy Colgate tubes at CVS. They always have great toothpaste coupons, often have sales, and occasionally feature a rewards dollars rebate. In fact, it’s not unusual to “make” money from toothpaste deals.

  • I purchase my laundry detergent at CVS, too. Simultaneously, CVS will put my favorite 92 oz. detergent on sale for $12.99, offer a $3 coupon for that sale detergent, and offer $10 in rewards bucks for purchasing $30 in select laundry detergent (including the same sale and coupon-eligible detergent). I save at least 50% on laundry products (and bonus, the use of the coupons and even previously earned reward dollars don’t count against the $30 purchase requirement!).

Laundry detergent aisle at the drugstore

From slashing grocery bills to snagging incredible deals on household items, I hope these examples demonstrate just how powerful these money-saving methods can be.

Avoiding Extreme Couponing Pitfalls

While saving money is awesome, it's essential to strike a balance.

  • Avoid the temptation to make unnecessary purchases just because you have a coupon.

  • Remember to be mindful of your time and effort investment in couponing.

  • Ultimately, saving money should enhance your life, not consume it.

Online Coupon Influencers

Finally, I want to share just a few coupon “educators” who share weekly deals with their online followers. I have learned a lot from these influencers, and I have adapted their strategies to fit the needs of my family and my desire to “win” at the checkout. I encourage you to follow them to see how you can save your way. I’m providing each couponer’s Instagram handle, but you can find out more about them and their other online sites by visiting their Instagram bios.


@torok.coupon.hunter

@couponingwithkateland

@freebies_and_more

There you have it, fellow money-saving enthusiasts! Couponing and rebate apps are a key to unlocking substantial savings while maintaining your joy for shopping. With a little planning, organization, and a dash of couponing strategy, you can watch your savings grow without going to extremes. So, get out there, clip those (paper and online) coupons, download those rebate apps, and let the savings begin. Your wallet will thank you. Happy saving!

Woman using her mobile app to save while shopping at home

What tips do you have for saving at your favorite grocery and retail stores?

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