Being a smart shopper means researching the product, reading the ingredients, even buying second hand if it means getting better quality. It means not buying something if you can re-purpose something else! And, at the very end, for me it definitely does mean getting a deal and saving money!
A couple of rules we follow:
Know what products you use and stick to them. Example: I prefer Scott toilet paper so I clip these coupons and watch for sales. I bypass all the other toilet paper coupons and just wait for Scott. If not Scott, then I only buy store brand instead.
When you can't beat the price (with sales and coupons) buy as many as you can. You know you will use it (ex. toilet paper!).
Do NOT just buy something just because it is on sale unless it is something you have been really wanting to try. This is how they get you to spend more money than you intended and to buy things you don't need or use.
A saying my husband and I say all the time:
"I am not prepared to be spontaneous at this time" and when it comes to spending our money, unless it is the deal of a lifetime and we can't live without it, being prepared is necessary!
NEW OR USED
COUPONS & SALES
MADE IN AMERICA
New or Used?
In myopinion some things should absolutely be purchased new. Unless you know exactly who you are getting it from it probably just isn't worth it. Some good examples are mattresses and couches. Other things, I say used can be a great option for purchasing a higher quality than you would otherwise be able to afford!
Many products are just fine second hand. Whether it's a yard sale, thrift store, or Facebook, this is always an option for us. Especially things like basic tools, baskets, and holiday decorations. We keep our eye out for local yard sales and I try to get into Saversat least once a month to see what's 'new' there. Items are so common to be purchased used that they have their own entire websites. Take automotive for example. Too many sites to count! Used clothing is becoming more popular too. Used furniture is always a great option as well and if you have ever purchased "antiques' then you have purchased used! Honestly, a lot of older items were actually of such a great quality they are still just as good today!
One of my favorite things to do now though is buy used on Amazon. I just recently purchased a 10 piece set of Analon pots and pans. They cost $299.99. However, they had them available as used, sold by Amazon Warehouse Deals, for $262.49. When I went to the listing and read it, I found out that they were brand new in the box with no damage at all. The only problem was the box had been damaged and possibly opened. I decided to give it a try and save $37.50. It would still ship for free with Prime, so I was in! They arrived, and were absolutely perfect! Yes, the box was damaged some, but the pots and pans were perfectly brand new, so who cares about the box? It was for me, not anyone else. Now anytime I make a purchase on Amazon, I am sure to check to see if it is available through the Warehouse first! Check out our affiliate link to the Amazon Warehouse Deals at the bottom of the page!
If you do choose to buy new though, please try to buy products made in the USA!
We also love FREE stuff!
ONLINE SHOPPING We do most of our online shopping through EBATES and every three months they send us a "BIG FAT CHECK" with all the money we saved! Be sure to download the app onto your phone or computer so you don't forget to use them every time you shop! You can also use any coupon with an online code too. Read more about that under coupons. One of my favorite places to shop online is Amazon and I am an Amazon Prime Member. They don't always have discounts through EBATES, but they usually beat the prices anywhere else!
EBATES Example: Recently, we purchased a television from Target. It was on sale for 299.99, a price that we could not beat anywhere else. We came home and went onto EBATES, which was offering 2% cash back at Target. We purchased the tv through them using our red card (which gives 5% off on any Target purchases and offers free shipping) and chose to do a store pick-up right around the corner from our home on the same day. The Target Red Card 5% gave us $15 off, for a price of $284.99. Using EBATES gave us 2% cash back at Target so we received a credit of $5.70 into our EBATES account. That brought the total purchase price of the tv down to $279.29. Using the Target Red Card, and shopping through e-bates saved us a total of $20.70 on the purchase. Worth it!
Signing up is easy and there are hundreds of stores to choose from. They also show a list of coupons that are available to be used at the store. Also, if you receive a coupon in the mail, say for a store like Sears or Kohls, that can also be used. Any valid coupon code can be entered and used to reduce your final cost and sometimes more than one can be used. They also have special offers for double cash back stores each week. If you are patient, and you shop during double cash back...well you know what will happen!
You can also earn cashback for any friends that sign up through you. But first you need to get started and make your own account. If you click on the e-bates link below and sign up, you will be contributing to my cash back and of course that would be great for me. However, you do not have to do this, it is just an option. Whether you click on the link below and go through me, or go to the site yourself, it is definitely worth using if you are planning on shopping online!
SIGN UP AND TRY IT - CLICK THE ICON BELOW
SALES We are always keeping an eye on sales and only buy something if it is on sale. Be careful though, I am sure you have seen sales that you know were still a scam! We keep an eye on flyers and the internet. If we can combine a store or manufacturer couponand an EBATES savings, even better! Sometimes you can even use more than one coupon - this is called stacking!
COUPONS We find them online, in the Sunday paper, and even in magazines. However, be careful because the healthy foods usually don't have any coupons! Try to use store 'money off' or 'percent off' coupons rather than product coupons. For example King Kullen will often have a $5 off coupon if you spend $50. This is great because it can be used on fresh fruits and vegetables that don't have manufacturer coupons. When it comes to other products, only save coupons if it is actually something you use regularly. For example, we use Scott toilet paper. They often have manufacturer coupons and I clip them when I see them. I do not clip any coupon for any other brand toilet paper no matter what. If the Scott is not on sale and/or I don't have a coupon, then I just buy the store brand which is pretty much the same! This usually doesn't happen though because I buy in bulk.
Tips for using coupons:
Stacking - combining two or more coupons for the same or different items in one shopping trip. The coupons must have different bar codes. For example, at Michaels, you can use a 20% off entire order coupon and a 40% off highest priced item together. However, the 40% off item will not have the 20% off applied to it. The 20% off will however apply to everything else you buy! Or, at Target you can use a Target coupon, a manufacturer coupon, and a cartwheel coupon for the same item. That's two different types of stacking. Not all stores allow stacking. A quick list of the stores I stack at: Michaels, Kohls, Rite Aid, and Target. If you aren't sure if you can use coupons together, ask. Ask a manager if the cashier says no. Managers can override and I have found cashiers that have been wrong. Click the following link for more information and a list of other stores that let you stack: http://lifehacker.com/seven-retailers-that-let-you-stack-coupons-1484256706
Matching coupons with sale items - watch for what you use to go on sale and get out the coupons! Now it's a bargain. Even better if the coupon is doubled!
Doubling Coupons - most grocery stores have a double coupon policy, but it is good to know what it is so you do not waste coupons that could be valued more elsewhere. See specific grocery stores and their coupon policies below.
Printing Coupons Online - there are many sites that you can print manufacturer coupons or print store coupons from. You can also find coupon codes for use in on-line shopping. Check out the links at the bottom of the page. I use them all and I am usually not disappointed.
Know the Store Coupon Policy BEFORE you shop there - pretty much every store posts their coupon policy on their website. The policies are very detailed and specific. They are also different at different stores. Some stores double one dollar coupons (King Kullen below) and others only double up to .99 cents. This can make a huge difference in your savings.
Know if the Coupon is a Store Coupon or a Manufacturer Coupon - BEWARE - some stores will have coupons that state 'manufacturer coupon' on them, even though they are actually store coupons. This could lead an inexperienced cashier inadvertently telling you that you can't use two coupons (a store and a manufacturer). If the coupon is printed in the store flyer and can only be used at that store, then it is a STORE coupon - not a manufacturer coupon. For example - Rite Aid has coupons in their flyers that state 'manufacturer coupon' on them when they are actually a Rite Aid Coupon that can only be used at Rite Aid. True manufacturer coupons can be used in any store. So check the coupon ad. If it is really a store coupon remember that it can still be combined with a manufacturer coupon!
MADE IN AMERICA If you can buy something made in America, then do it! It is important to support products made here in the USA. I am personally even willing to spend a little more for a product if it is American made. Especially if it is a big ticket item like appliances or furniture. Read our post Made in America for more information!
CHOOSE A STORE BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION DON'T SEE YOUR FAVORITE STORE HERE? Don't worry, the examples and tips used at these stores can be applied to other stores as well!
Use your Target Red Card to save 5% - but make sure you pay it off each month because the interest is more than the reward! You will see this savings on your receipt.
Sign up for and use Target Cartwheel - you choose items for extra % off and print out a special coupon to bring to the store. You start with 11 items and over time will earn more spots to put more items. You will see your savings on your receipt.
Go to Target Online Coupons and choose and print the ones you need to bring with you shopping. You can also find Target coupons in the Sunday ads. These are different than the cartwheel coupon, so make sure you do both.
Stack your Target coupons with manufacturer coupons. Target allows you to use one Target coupon and one Manufacturer coupon per item.
Target sometimes offers gift cards for buying a certain amount of product. This is another great way to save money if you know you will be shopping there again and the products are something you know you will use.
Remember to use any gift cards you have at the online checkout too!
In-Store Shopping (I have not yet seen any benefit to shopping here on-line)
Sign up for Bobs Rewards. Have your husband and kids sign up too! Each person that signs up will get a $10 reward in the mail to start and then one for every birthday.
They allow the rewards to be combined, and it doesn't matter if there are different names on them. They also allow you to combine the rewards with a coupon.
Watch for Bobs coupons (and print them online too). The coupons vary and sometimes they are better than others, but I would never shop without using one. Recently they had 25% off your entire purchase, and I had $20 in rewards so it was a great day and they were having great sales! Great day!
Have a Kohl's Charge Card- it allows you to get coupons in the mail. You will get 15% right away when you sign up. If you do not have a Kohls card, you can still get coupons but usually not as high a %. I ONLY shop at Kohls if I have a 30% off coupon. Otherwise, NO.
Sign up for Kohl's Yes 2 U Rewards and earn $5 every time you spend $100. You have to have them scan your rewards card every time you shop!
Kohl's Cash - at certain times you can get $10 Kohls cash for every $50 you spend. It's a pretty good deal, but watch the expiration dates. Kohl's no longer accepts expired cash.
If you're really savvy, you will find that there are one or two days before the $10 cash expires when you also have a coupon! And if you have $5 rewards....BONUS!
Stacking Coupons - you can combine a % off coupon and a dollar off coupon (example is a $10 off coupon on intimate apparel). That with Kohls Cash and rewards....extra bonus!
You can do everything above, except online you can also shop through EBATES - Kohls has 3% cash back all the time, and if you're patient, double cash back is great! Note, when putting in the coupon codes, do one at a time and make sure it is applied before paying. I always put in the free shipping first, then the % off second.
Sign up for the Rite Aid Wellness +UP Rewards Program. This program provides a card that you need to have scanned every time you shop. It is the only way to get the discounted +UP prices advertised in the weekly flyers. It will also earn you cash on your future purchases. NOTE: it does not apply to prescriptions. After a certain amount of time, it can earn you even greater rewards. For example, I reached 1,000 points and became a Gold card holder. I now have 20% off anything I purchase there for a year. Note, each year on January 1st your points reset to zero.
Stack coupons: you can combine manufacturer, store and one other coupon for the same item. Example: Say you have a buy one get one free, then you have a .50 cent off on that same item, then you have a store coupon for that item as well. You can use them all! If it was on sale too, even better! You can also add a total purchase coupon too. Get Rite Aid e-coupons loaded to your rewards card here: https://www.riteaid.com/savings/printable-coupons
Any up rewards will automatically be applied when your rewards card is scanned at checkout. Do not forget to have it scanned or you WILL NOT receive any of the sale prices!
UPDATE - now it is a Plenti card and based on what I have learned so far it will be the same rewards as above, however, the Plenti points earned can be used at a variety of stores. I will update on this as I learn more.
You can use your Rewards Card, and you can use the online coupons at Rite Aid (especially if you upload them to your rewards card), but not the manufacturer coupons (At least I haven't been able to figure it out yet).
However, they are 4% cash back through EBATES and there are coupon codes on EBATES such as 15% off your entire order and free shipping, or $10 off $50 and free shipping, etc. These change so always keep your eye out.
Staples Rewards members earn $2 per recycled ink cartridge and 5% in rewards back on purchase. Coupons you receive can be used towards future Staples purchases.
You can stack your rewards and coupons. For example, I just purchased ink for my printer. I used a 20 % off $60 or more ink order coupon, a $10 off $50 or more coupon, and an $8 reward. The original total before tax was 71.98. After all the coupons were applied the order total was 39.58. Shipping was free because I am a rewards member.
Also, I shopped online through EBATES so I am getting 2% cash back as well!