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 😉
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!
- 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 – $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%!
- 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 😉 $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%!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- Are you a couponer?
- Do you use any rebate apps?
- Have you used Swagbucks before?