One of the ways I stick to our budget, even as a one-income household, is to use coupons and money-saving apps on my iphone. I know, you may be thinking “Who has time to look through and cut out coupons?” or “Is it worth my time to save just a few dollars (or sometimes cents!)”? I used to buy the Sunday newspaper every week and cut coupons from the inserts, but sometimes the money I saved was about the same as the money I was spending on the newspaper. If you buy lots of processed foods and name brand beauty products, there are lots of coupons available and the Sunday paper inserts may be worth your time. However, over the past 5 -6 years, I’ve been trying to move towards more whole, fresh food purchases and more organic, fewer-ingredient, natural beauty products and cleaners. Unfortunately, there are very few coupons for those types of items. I do still use coupons from time to time, I just print them online now instead of buying the Sunday newspaper. I also use a variety of apps on my iphone that simply require you to take a picture of your receipt as proof of your purchase, or to scan the barcode of the items you purchased, and they include savings on fresh produce! Here’s my current “couponing” routine:
1.) During the week as we notice something is running low, or if we use the last of an item, we write it down on a dry erase board that I have on the side of my fridge. I like that it is out of sight, magnetic, and dry erase, so it can be reused every week, as needed.
2.) On either Monday or Tuesday of each week, I check in on Swagbucks under the Shop section (click Grocery Coupons on the left) to find printable coupons that I could use during my weekly grocery shopping trip. Swagbucks is a great way to earn bucks towards giftcards just from searching the web, printing and using coupons, shopping online, answering surveys, and much more. You are not required to do all of those, just pick what you enjoy and watch the bucks add up. I always turn in my swagbucks for Amazon gift cards. I tend to earn bucks mostly from searching, shopping online (you earn a percentage back on what you purchase at most sites!), and from redemption of coupons I’ve printed off of Swagbucks. To earn your own swagbucks, sign up here.
3.) The sale flyers for our area show up in my mailbox on Tuesday afternoon, and the sales start on Wednesday. I can usually also find the sale flyers online at the store’s website (or on their app if they have one), just in case flyers do not get delivered where you live. So most Tuesday afternoons, I sit down during the kids’ nap time and go through the flyer looking for stock-up sales or sales that match the coupons I printed from Swagbucks or that match the list I have on the side of the fridge. This is when I make my final list for each store I plan to go to. (I also usually put the list in order of the store aisles so that I can get through each shopping trip rather quickly with my two kids).
4.) On Wednesday (my weekly shopping day), the kids and I leave the house pretty early in the morning with the list and coupons that I put together on Tuesday. I find my kids are happier in the morning, we’ve all just eaten breakfast, so we aren’t hungry, and there are less people that shop at that time, so the lines are shorter and the parking spots are better. Set yourself up for success! (When I worked outside of the home, I would leave my son with my husband and go shopping early on Saturday mornings to avoid the crowds). When we get home from our shopping trip, I scan my items into my National Consumer Panel app as I unload them and save them. I earn points that I can exchange for Amazon gift cards on this app. If I have time later in the day, I also scan my receipts into the Walmart Savings Catcher app, Checkout 51, and ibotta (feel free to use my referral code: lxn2wa ). You can sign up for any of these by clicking on each app name. I will go into more detail with each of these in my next post.
5.) About once every other month I also make a trip out to a club store like Sams Club or Costco for items that I buy in bulk.
This is the weekly routine that has been working for me at the stage of life I’m in with two little ones at home with me. I find it helps to do one little step each day as I have time. I’m sure it will need to be adapted again once my children start attending school. Check back for my next few posts on these apps in more detail, as well as tips on how I stock up on healthy foods without having them expire before I use them.
ibotta (referral code: lxn2wa)
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