Coupons, Swagbucks, and Rebates

Since my last post I’ve been thinking more about how I save money on our groceries every week and I thought I would just share my method and experience.

To start, no one is paying me to say any of these very lovely things I am about to say – I am just sharing what I use, and it works for me and I like these products so there ya go – free advertising. If¬† any of these companies are reading, I’d happily take some money off your hands ūüėČ

Couponing can be intimidating especially with shows like Extreme Couponing and what-not, but that’s not me, and I don’t have a basement to store 1023 bottles of Pantee Pro V even if I wanted to.

So I’m going to break it down and share with you how I get good deals and can shop for my family of 3.5 for about $80 a week.

What I use

First and foremost, you’ll need to find programs/apps you like and that work for you. Here’s what I use:

Swagbucks¬† (website search engine where you earn “swagbucks” that can be redeemed for gift cards such as Amazon, Walmart, etc)

Coupons.com (printable coupons)

Checkout51 (Cash rebate app)

SavingStar (Cash rebate app)

Ibotta (Cash rebate app)

MobiSave (Cash rebate app)

Cartwheel (Target’s app for instant savings)

This might seem like a lot to someone just starting out and getting use to using coupons, swagbucks, AND rebates, but bare in mind I don’t use ALL of these every single week. In any given week I use swagbucks to get my coupons (more on this later), and 1-3 rebate apps. If I shop at Target I will use the Cartwheel app as well.

The key to my success is a couple things: 1.) Be adventurous and try different brands. Being brand specific will drastically limit your savings potential. and 2.) stack coupons, rebates, and sales! This is the best way to get rock-bottom deals.

The Method to My Madness

The first thing I¬†do is hop onto swagbucks (here is my referral link – if you sign up and start earning swagbucks, I’ll earn some too!) and type in the search bar “swagbucks coupons” and click on the link. This is where I will print my coupons. For every coupon you redeem from swagbucks, you will earn 10 swagbucks. So not only do you get the coupon savings for items, you get swagbucks too! You’ll notice it resembles coupons.com so once you get use to navigating one, the other will be easy.

Next, I will check out coupons.com because I have found the swagbucks coupons don’t have ALL the coupons. If there are additional coupons I want, I print those too. Keep in mind you will have to download a coupon printer application on your computer, but its pretty easy and walks you through the whole process. With both swagbucks and coupons.com you can print each coupon twice (great for BOGOs!), and they are updated monthly with new coupons.

After I get my coupons, I then take a look at my rebate apps and I try to stack a coupon with a rebate. One great thing about coupons.com and Savingstar, is that they mirror each other. In other words, if you have a coupon for Yoplait yogurt, then more then likely there will be a rebate for the same dollar amount on Savingstar. So instead of saving just $1 on 5 yogurts (coupon) you can save that AND another $1 from the rebate for a total of a $2 savings.

Keep in mind coupons are an instant savings at the register and rebates take 1 day to a couple weeks to load into your account that you then can cash out via paypal or other payment methods.

Assuming rebates are new to you, let me give you a quick run down on how each of them work:

First I have them all on my iphone that I got from the apple app store – easy peasy.

Let’s start with SavingStar. This is a rebate app that links to store cards. I LOVE this feature because sometimes I get lazy taking pictures of my shopping receipts and submitting them. Instead if you link a store card,¬†rebates are submitted automatically. ¬†Obviously, if you shop at Walmart or Target,there is no store card. In that case you will have to snap a pic of your receipt, select the items you purchased and submit it for a rebate. The app walks you through this whole process and I promise its not hard. Keep in mind you will need to verify items by hovering over UPC codes so don’t discard boxes until you submit for your rebate.

Another great feature with SavingStar is their Healthy Option (usually a produce item) that is always 20% off and on select Fridays they do “Friday Freebies” where an item is 100% free! Play with the app and get comfortable with it. I highly encourage anyone who already uses coupons.com for their coupons to also use SavingStar – its a built in stack!

Moving right along, Checkout 51. I mainly use this app for¬†their weekly “pick your own” produce item. It took me redeeming a few rebates before this was an additional perk I earned, but every week its a guarantee rebate. Also they have some generic rebates now for eggs, bread, OJ, etc. And it has grown a lot with rebate offers compared to when I first started using it. Keep in mind these offers last for one week – Wednesday 11:59pm to Wednesday 11:59 pm. So if you buy something don’t forget to submit for your rebate!

MobiSave is the newest one I started using and I love it so far. Its simple and straight forward and¬†doesn’t have a bajillion rebates to scroll through. So far there are a lot of generic rebates again for eggs, OJ, produce, and even bacon! These can easily be stacked with other generic rebates with other rebate apps – keep an eye out for them! I have submitted two rebates so far – and its super easy to use and I love the whale as their icon!

And that brings us to Ibotta – the first rebate app I started using and it has grown a lot! This app can be used for ALL kinds of stores and restaurants for rebates – seriously! You want to go out to eat with your love? Well check Ibotta for a rebate on a drink or an appetizer! I still mainly use this for groceries and this app is store specific which is the biggest difference with the apps I mentioned above. Keep this in mind. If you buy something at Walmart, it has to be a rebate under Walmart. Many rebates are the same from store to store, but every store has some slight difference in the items offered. So my suggestion is for you to pick your¬† 3-4 stores you shop at regularly and check them out on Ibotta for rebate options. This might mean you shop at more than 1 store, but for a good savings its worth it my opinion, and I’ve done this myself. Ibotta is really powerful and has tons of stores for rebates and tons of items – everything from Home Depot, to alcohol, to baby stuff. Redeeming items is simple too – you scan your UPC codes, scan the little square code thingy at the bottom of your receipt, click submit and within 24-48 hours your rebate will be in your account.

Ibotta and CheckOut51 also do bonuses which are great opportunities to earn even more money on top of your rebates. I don’t typically monitor these, but if there is a particular brand that I know I use and buy, and a bonus is being offered for buying say 3 of that item, I’ll do it because its usually a¬†good deal.

At this point I am going to assume everyone is pretty familiar with Target’s Cartwheel app.¬† At first it¬†was only offered through Facebook users which I was not; then one day my sister told me I could register under an email and I haven’t looked back since! Cartwheel is a great opportunity to do some serious stacking!

Now I have various examples I want to share with you all, but first I want to touch on a couple things.

First stacking. This means using a coupon AND a rebate. Or using a coupon on a sale item AND using a rebate. Or using a rebate AND another rebate. Basically all this means is you are “stacking” more than one savings method onto an item. This is really important to keep in mind because this is how you will achieve your best savings.

Next BOGO. This is Buy One Get One. Most local grocery stores will have these deals and I stalk store ads to check them out because this is a simple way to get items for a rock-bottom price.

Lastly, Rock-bottom price. All this means is getting an item for the cheapest you can get. If you stick to this for a while, you will eventually learn what your rock-bottom prices are for some of more frequently purchased items. I am not that concerned with always getting rock-bottom prices and for me its easier to think of my savings a percentage. If I achieved a 50% savings then I consider that kinda like my rock-bottom price. Do what works for you!

Now for some examples!

  1. Enchilada Sauce. 12 ounce can at Walmart was priced at $1.63 each. Swagbucks had a coupon for $1.00 of ONE can of sauce. I printed two. SavingStar had a rebate for $0.50 for one can. So I stacked the coupons and rebates. $1.63 x 2 cans = $3.26 Р$2.00 (2 coupons) = $1.26. Submitted rebate $1.26-$0.50 = $0.76/2 = $0.38 each plus 20 Swagbucks (for the 2 coupons I redeemed). This was a savings of just under 80%!
  2. Bread. My local grocery store had bread on sale for BOGO. I had an Ibotta and MobiSave rebate each for $0.25 – so another combined savings of $0.50. Regular price of one loaf is $3.98 so this made each loaf $1.99 – already a pretty good deal, but I did even better ūüėČ $3.98 x 2 (I bought 4 loaves) = $7.96 – $0.50 (two rebates) = $7.46/4 loaves = $1.87 per loaf. This was a savings of just over 50%!
  3. Marley 12 pack K-cup Coffee. This is an example of buying a different brand. I have never bought this coffee before, but it was delicious and I didn’t pay full price! Regular store price $7.99 – $2.00 Ibotta rebate – $0.25 Ibotta generic coffee rebate = $5.74. By redeeming these Ibotta rebates, I earned a bonus which gave me another $2.00 in my account! $5.74 – $2.00 Ibotta Bonus = $3.74. This is over a 50% savings!
  4. Stoneyfield Yogurt Tubes 8 pack. Cartwheel had 35% off ONE Stoneyfield Yogurt Tube 8 pack AND I had a $1.00 off one coupon. $3.99 – $0.20 (5% off for using my Target RedCard) – $1.49 (35% Cartwheel) – $1.00 (coupon) = $1.30 + 10Swagbucks (redeemed one coupon from SB). This is just under a 75% savings!
  5. Big G Cereal. My local grocery store was offering 4 boxes of Big G cereal for $10 PLUS a FREE gallon of white milk. My household doesn’t drink plain milk because of lactose intolerance, but I still knew the cereal would be at a good price. Plus, I had coupons AND rebates. I typically don’t buy junk cereal UNLESS I can get a good deal on it – after all YOLO, and I like Lucky charms too! So, since I knew I wasn’t going to do the milk deal, I bought the cereal at Walmart saving me some money compared to my local store. $2.98 x 2 boxes Big G (had to buy 2 for coupon) – $1.00 ($1.00 off TWO select boxes) – $0.50 Ibotta rebate for Cinnamon Toast Crunch – $0.50 Ibotta rebate for Lucky Charms – $1.00 SavingStar rebate off TWO Big G cereals = $2.96/2 boxes = $1.48 each + 10 Swagbucks (redeemed one coupon from swagbucks). This is one penny over a 50% savings! For crappy cereal (health wise, not flavor wise) I consider this a good deal.

I hope these examples help you understand how I use coupons, Swagbucks, and rebates to significantly lower my grocery bill. It does take some time, but a small invest in time is translated to big savings for me. To put this into perspective for you, currently I have a combined $88.05 in rebates. I will likely cash out soon (some have minimums) since this is a weeks worth of groceries! My lifetime earnings in all the rebates is $143.05. For Swagbucks, I have a lifetime earning of $45 and currently I have $10 in an Amazon gift card that I will more than likely use for baby items but keep in mind it can go towards Amazon Prime purchases, etc.  So it will take some time to get into a routine with this, but I promise, you will earn/save some money!

If you want to give this a try, start small, get comfortable with the apps, and have fun! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will make sure I answer them all!

Thanks for sticking around to read another really long post!


  1. Are you a couponer?
  2. Do you use any rebate apps?
  3. Have you used Swagbucks before?

 

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The “L” Word

2 years ago, when my grandmother passed away, I remember the plane landing and ushering myself and my son off looking forward to getting home and¬†finally taking a breathe. As I was driving through our neighborhood, hard reality slapped me in my face –¬†life goes on.¬†Regardless of what events have occurred, regardless of your mental or emotional state, cars were driving past me as I entered our neighborhood, blissfully ignorant of my life, and their life continued on – moving forward without a second thought. In that moment I so¬†desperately wanted to push Life’s Pause Button. I wanted the world around me to slow the F down and I wanted life to pause just for a second. I needed to breathe, to process, to grieve. And when life is zooming past you at what seems like the speed of sound, it’s overwhelming. It’s sad. It’s disconcerting. So in the peace of my home I figured out how to take a breath and grieve, while also getting back in the game of life. It was survival – I¬†had¬†to do it even if I didn’t want to. Because life can be brutal. It can be beautiful and joyous, but sometimes it can be a butthead. I share this with you because once again I wish I could press Life’s Pause Button.

I’ve been wanting to write this post and be authenticate and honest with¬†ya’ll.¬† After all, ¬†my poop stinks too, I have marital challenges at times, I have child-rearing challenges at times, and I fall apart like a crazy person sometimes. Because I am not perfect regardless of what this blog may say otherwise. So today I am sharing with you some raw honesty. And although its not on par with losing a loved one, its been a life-rocker none the less.

The “L” Word

At the beginning of this month I got a call and was told by the VP of my business that due to cost saving measures my position was being eliminated.

Ya’ll I was laid off.

And at first I was like this….

Then I was like this because I was home sick. Can anyone say bad timing?

And then I was like this….

But then I remembered there is this sweet precious boy…

Baby#2

So I did this.

 

And then I took my planned trip to Florida and took a week off. Because when your world comes crashing down, you run to your parents like any other almost-thirty-year-old with a mortgage. Just kidding. Kinda.

 

They say losing a job is like losing a loved one. At least the steps of grief are. First you’re in denial, then angry, then you barter, then you’re bitter, then you finally accept. Or something like that. I think right now I am at the YOLO stage. Can we add that in there? I have come to a healthy place where I am not so stressed and looking forward to some time. Just some gosh darn time.¬† And in case you are curious as how I did it, or you find yourself in a similar position, here’s what I did.

  1. Take some time. I Googled “just got laid off” and every search came back with some form or another of “take some time off”. And although I am a planner and an action person, I could see the benefit with this. Even with being almost 5 months pregnant. I needed to get my bearings. And process what just happened. In my case I got a severance package and my official termination date was a week later so I had a little breathing room. Don’t make any drastic decisions within those first couple of days when you are reeling from what you have just been told. Instead cry, eat ice cream, and wallow. Wallowing is healthy, promise.
  2. Know your People. This is one thing that really surprised me. When I went to pack up my office, I had people reaching out and rallying with me. I had my people. Hug them. Cry with them. Confide in them. Through this whole process I have recognized who my true friends are Рthe people who are willingly inconveniencing themselves to help me. Those people who want to help me. Take their help and lean on their support. Connect with them and keep in touch with them. Two of my friends either connected me to a job or recommended me for a job. You never know who knows who. And then, feel all the love. I know I do.
  3. Severance Package, Outplacement resources, HR, oh my. If you got a severance package you are going to have to be proactive to figure it out. My¬†(previous) company’s¬†HR was no help in that regard. They basically handed me a packet and told me to call the numbers provided. Not very helpful. Get a direct HR contact at the company in case you need to follow up or have questions later. And be prepared to make lots of phone calls and figure this out.
  4. Financial Assessment. Like anyone, I was worried about our finances. Going from x amount a month to $0 a month is shocking. and stressful. And you will feel all the feels. But in my opinion this is the time to get serious about your budget and spending and figure out what things can go immediately and what other things you will need to work on to cut costs. This doesn’t need to be really detailed yet, but you should have a general idea of what you can cut. For example, for us it was cutting Diapers pre-school attendance from full time to 3 days a week. This is a savings of $40 per week which is $160 a month. It may not seem like a lot now, but that could be gas, groceries for a week or two, or even pay off a credit card. Also, groceries is another area where I am back to couponing, swagbucking, and using all of my rebate apps. I could¬†write a whole post on just this, so if you want some more details on this let me know and I’d be happy to share my method and experience.
  5. Resume. Now is the time to network and get a kick-ass resume put together. Hopefully after 1-4 you have had some time to do some soul searching and figure out what you want to do. Maybe a career change makes sense. Maybe you want to follow your passion. Maybe you want to stay home with your kiddos. Whatever is resonating with you, figure out how to pull out key competencies and results from previous roles to highlight what you can bring to another company. For me, I am looking for an industry change. And nautrally this means limited experience, but only limited industry experience. I still have great work experience and have high impact business results that I can speak to.
  6. Network. I finally broke down and have a LinkedIn profile. And I am networking. It really is powerful and any and all resources you get makes it even more powerful. Consider local job fairs, friends, college alumi, recruiters, head hunters, etc. Step outside your comfort zone a little and find some routine to mange these and get into a routine where you are putting yourself and your talents out there. I have found LinkedIn to be very good and I am also using Glassdoor.com to check out companies, jobs, salaries, benefits and other info.
  7. Unemployment. Chances are if you’ve been laid off, you will qualify for state unemployment. Since this is a program our taxes help support, you have been paying into this program, so now is your chance to take full advantage of it. It won’t be a lot, as most states have a weekly cap regardless of your previous income level, but its still something. My state requires job searches and attending an orientation. It is annoying for me to manage all of this, but I also recognize its a small sacrifice of¬† my time to get some income into my household immediately. And its of course another way to network by attending the events your state hosts for job searches. In line with this, also consider other government programs such as WIC, SNAP (food stamps), Child care assistance, etc. Again, we contribute to these with our taxes so don’t be ashamed to reach out and see if you qualify.
  8. Job Searches and Applying. I was given the advice of spending a good 25 hours per week searching and applying jobs. Anymore than that and you will get burned out and frustrated. This can be 3, 8 hour days or 5, 5 hour days. Structure it with what works for you but be prepared to invest some time and energy. Job titles are not a one size fits all and in my experience, I always have to tweak a resume some before applying.
  9. Get Creative. This applies to everything from¬†your new found time, to your finances, to your resume and job searching. Be unconventional. Think outside the box. Put some spice and personality into your resume to set you apart. Think of unique childcare options, or creative ways to significantly lower your budget whether its with student loans, car payments, or credit card payments. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Now is the time to figure out what is going to work best for you. And nothing says you can’t do something (unless its illegal of course) so step outside your comfort zone and have fun with this part! A great example I can share is with our finances. I have a lot of student loans. Our monthly student loan payment is on the order of an apartment rent amount. Its a lot, and its choking our budget. So we tossed around ideas like using my severance to pay off the higher interest ones, restructuring our payments, and looking into other income based repayment options, but none of them were ideal because interest is still accrued. Our best option is to pay them off. And we found¬†a way to do that which results in us freeing up about $600 a month in our budget. And that is significant. For personal reasons/security, ¬†I haven’t shared the details, but if you are curious or want to know some more specifics just shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to share!
  10. Quality and Quantity Time. As a (previously) working mom, my time with Diapers was limited to an hour or so in the morning, a few hours in the evening, and the weekends. Although the days are short, the months seem long so I am taking this opportunity to invest more into my son. We are going to the library, feeding the ducks our old stale bread. Watching movies. Cuddling. Building forts, playing with side walk chalk and even redoing my flower bed (read: weeding, raking, pruning, and replanting). I’m also doing some DIY projects for Baby Boy’s room (maybe good fodder for a blog post!). I am occupying my time and mind with activities that are filling me up to lighten the stress and burden of constant job searching. Its important to take care of yourself. So don’t forget your hobbies! Invest in yourself too – I remind myself of this daily.
  11. Remember Life Goes On. At the beginning of this rather lengthy post, I said I wanted to push the Pause Button. And some days I still do. But life goes on. Dishes need to get done, kids need to be fed, laundry needs to be done, and for me the key is a new routine. I’m still not in one yet, but what I am doing is NOT hermitting myself in the house. I am an introvert and I would be perfectly content staying home applying to job after job. But I have friends calling, texting, making plans. I have good people ya’ll. I am loved. My phone is constantly blowing up – and I really like that.¬†I have friends¬†who want to keep in touch and its been a kind reminder to me that life does in fact, still go on and move ahead. So this past weekend Diapers went to a birthday party (ask how I did this on a budget!), last Wednesday I went out to lunch with a friend. Then on Friday another friend came over and spent her lunch hour at my house catching up. And on Sunday another friend stopped by to catch up and help with my DIY projects. Life goes on, and I have found that if I step outside my introverted tendencies, I am enjoying this time. I am still working on a good routine and a mangeable balance, but it feels good to live and not be stuck on pause.

This post is long enough so I will end this here. If you’ve managed to make it this far then thanks and go eat a cookie because you totally deserve it. Actually eat 5.


  1. Have you ever been laid off from a job?
  2. Do you wish there was a Life Pause Button like me?
  3. How was your weekend?
  4. Any good DIY-ers out there?

 

 

 

 

I don’t use the words Skinny or Big

I am a mom to a wonderful little boy, soon to be two boys. And we have made it a point to not use the words “skinny” or “big” in our house.

In the wake of the new “modern” Barbie, there’s a lot of focus on making children’s toys reflect American society. But this isn’t just limited to women and precieved “girls” toys. This applies to sons as well.

I don’t want my son growing up thinking he’s not “strong” because he doesn’t have a six pack or because he’s thinner then other boys his age or because his biceps aren’t as large. I don’t want my sons growing up thinking they are less of a man if they don’t run as fast as the other boys in their class. I don’t want my sons thinking they are skinny, fat, big, or not big enough. Muscle mass is not a metric ¬†of manlyness just like being a certain size isn’t a metric for being beautiful.

There’s generally a healthy weight for everyone and a healthy approach and outlook on food and exercise is key. And this is the message and the words my son hears: healthy, strong, determined, fueling our bodies, good food choices, treats in moderation, and taking care of our bodies.

My son is very aware of my running. And occasionally he likes to join in the jogging stroller. He never greets me with a hug when I come back because I’m “hot and sweaty”. And I’m great with all of this. My son sees me enjoying being active, taking time for myself, and fueling my body appropriately. He sees me being healthy with a strong body, and doing what I enjoy – no matter my body size and shape. Including fueling my body and indulging once in awhile.

Kids are impressionable and I hope I’m leaving the right one. My son is perfect the way he is – size and stature included because he’s healthy. I hope as he grows up and is exposed more and more to society he develops a good sense of self and never loses it.

Groundhog’s Day

Happy Groundhog’s Day ya’ll! Phil predicted an early end to Winter and to that I say, Hallelujah! Although I can’t complain because the fine south is blessing us with gorgeous 70 degree weather.

Now for some randomness:

  1. I’m working remotely next week and really looking forward to it.
  2. My nesting takes the form as stocking up the freezer and cabinets fit for an end of the world apocalypse.
  3. I’ve been feeling unmotivated towards work. I have some tedious projects I’m working on, and once I get into them, they aren’t that bad, but starting them is a struggle.
  4. I recently heard on the radio that working women don’t take all of their vacation days. Say what?! What’s especially bothersome to me, is that men do! Sistahs, PLEASE take your vacation days! You have earned them and it’s part of your compensation. If you don’t take them, you are in effect, giving yourself a pay cut. Don’t do that m’kay?
  5. I can already feel this baby move. I think he’s doing somersaults.

One last thing – stay tuned for a logo upgrade!!! My fabulous friend/website guru is giving it an overall because for one I don’t have blonde hair.

 

Tell me me about your Tuesday!