Everyday Savings Hacks Exposed
Dear Rich Lifer,
A few years ago I was flipping through the channels one night when a show came on that caught my eye.
Its premise was to follow people referred to as “extreme couponers.”
It was fascinating to watch their process as seemingly normal people would beg, borrow and dumpster dive for coupon inserts. They would then spend hours pouring over weekly sales ads, carefully pairing store sales with the coupons they had amassed.
Finally, when the time was right, they would go to the store, binders of coupons at the ready to make their purchases.
It really was riveting television. It also spurred on a new generation of deal seekers who, hoping to save thousands of dollars a year, began following the same process.
To me, the whole thing seemed a little… extreme.
Subscribing to multiple papers, printing coupons from multiple email addresses, spending hours preparing to go grocery shopping. This is not how I want to spend my time, even if it saves me a few hundred dollars a year.
But, there are four lessons we can take away from the extreme couponing phenomenon that will save you big.
Cash-Back Apps Really Work
Cash-back apps (also called shopping portals) make money by sending shoppers to various online retailers. Whatever these shoppers buy, the portal gets paid a commission from that retailer.
These portals give back a slice of those commissions to shoppers in the form of cash-back rewards to incentivize repeat visits.
There are several apps out there that will give you cash back for online and in-store purchases. One of my favorites is the Ibotta app.
Simply scan your grocery receipt and cash is deposited into a holding account that can be linked to Paypal. Or, shop through the Ibotta app and you can earn cash-back savings at more than 1,500 partnering retailers.
There is one catch: before you can cash out, you need to have at least $20 accumulated in your Ibotta account.
But, with all the opportunities to earn cash back, it’s easy getting that first $20. And if you need the cash right away, your savings can be converted into a gift card at one of your favorite retailers any time.
Other cash-back apps worth checking out:
- Rebaid (cash back on Amazon orders)
- Rakuten ($10 sign-up bonus)
- Swagbucks ($5 sign-up bonus)
- Mr. Rebates
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs to Save Even More
Your favorite grocery store likely has some form of loyalty program that gives you instant savings on certain items throughout the store.
What you may not know is that your favorite grocery store has an app that links that loyalty number to both manufacturers’ coupons and otherwise unadvertised promotions.
For instance, Target’s RedCard rewards program gives you 5 percent off in-store and online purchases every time you shop. Plus, you get free shipping on online orders and an additional 30 days for returns and exchanges.
If you read a lot, Barnes & Noble offers a loyalty program for just $25 a year. That gets you 40% off pricing on hardcover bestsellers, 10% off on almost all other purchases, and free express shipping on online orders.
Here’s a list of 18 retailers with some of the best loyalty programs. Find the stores that you frequent the most and sign up — most programs are free.
Learn How to Stack Deals
How this works: Typically, you earn cash-back by shopping through a portal like Ibotta. To increase your savings further, you can link loyalty programs from your favorite stores so that you can stack manufacturers coupons onto your cash-back savings.
Knowing which cash-back portal to shop through and with what loyalty program is often where you can waste a lot of time.
Thankfully, there are sites like CashbackMonitor that tell you which shopping portal offers the highest “base percentage” back for purchases at your favorite stores.
And to make sure you don’t miss a deal that’s expiring, AwardWallet is another website that stores all your loyalty programs, including airline miles and hotel points, in one place.
If your coupons or points are expiring, AwardWallet will alert you.
While you probably won’t be traveling anywhere anytime soon, now is not a bad time to finally get your different loyalty programs organized.
Sign Up for Promotional Emails But Use This Tool
Signing up to a retail store’s email list can be a great way to receive exclusive deals.
And to redeem coupons, you usually just have to show the sales associate the email on your phone so they can scan it at check out.
However, if you sign up for too many promotional lists, your inbox will quickly be inundated with coupons and buy one, get one free promos.
There are a few ways you can handle this: first, you can create a seperate email account that’s only purpose is to gather deals like these.
Second, you can subscribe to something called Unroll.me. This is a free tool that gathers all of your promotional emails into a single newsletter and delivers this to your inbox once a day.
What I do is save these newsletters in a special Unroll.me folder in my email. Before I head into a particular store, I simply open the folder and search the retailer’s name to see if any coupons or specials show up.
It’s rare that I go to a retail store without having an extra 20% off coupon ready on my phone at check-out.
As much as I like watching people buy $1,000 worth of groceries for a few pennies on TV, you don’t have to go to such extremes to save money.
Shopping through cash-back apps, signing up for loyalty programs and email lists, and learning how to stack deals are easy ways to save time and money on your next shopping trip.
The best part is you can save money like this without making people think you need your own reality TV show.
To a richer life,