Easy Ways to Save Money when Shopping

Frugality is my jam – and by frugal I do not mean “cheap.” Cheap tends to take on negative connotations, like not wanting to spend money on others, unwilling to split a bill, or never going out and doing things. As a family, we enjoy spending money, but I also want to make sure we are getting the best deal when we do! Over the years I’ve discovered lots of little money saving tips and tricks, and they really come in handy when trying to stretch a dollar! Below are some of my top tips for finding the best deals!

Ibotta – Get Money Back on Groceries

Ibotta is a phone app that allows you to get money back on the items you already purchase. Browse through the cashback offers loaded on the app before you go shopping and add them to your “My Offers” section. Then after grocery shopping, scan your receipt and follow the prompts to get some money back! Although the savings per item often aren’t huge, it is still free money! I have been using the app for 3 months now and have gotten $50 back so far. You need to accumulate at least $20 in your account before cashing out. One word of warning – do not let Ibotta offers influence your purchasing decisions if it tempts you to buy something you don’t need or to pay for a similar item at a higher cost. If you do that, then you aren’t saving money!

If you’d like to sign up for Ibotta, use referral code pcthofd to get $10 in your account just for signing up!

Honey – Get the Best Money-Saving Deal

Honey is a free browser extension for your computer (it is not currently available on mobile devices, but will be soon!) that automatically finds and applies coupons and promo codes to your purchases on over 30,000 shopping sites. It tracks price fluctuations on Amazon items you shop for and will alert you if the item is available cheaper from another seller. Honey also provides an Amazon price history, so you know if the item has been marked up. Items on your Amazon wish list will also be tracked and you will be notified when prices drop. Honey has already saved me so much money, just by making sure I always get the best deals and have the best promo codes at my disposal!

Photo Credit: Honey

Compare Prices 

Any time I am going to make a big purchase online, I first do a Google shopping search to compare prices. When you find the item you are looking for, Google will show a list of available merchants and the prices they charge. It even gives you a quick comparison and includes total cost with tax and shipping – no math required! When we were shopping for our couch, doing a quick online comparison saved us so much money. As you can see below, the prices vary greatly! Had I not first checked prices with other merchants, we could have ended up paying hundreds more!

Grocery Rewards Program

If you aren’t a member of your grocery store’s rewards or loyalty program, then you are missing out on free money! Many stores provide cash back offers, discounts on featured items, coupons for the items you normally buy, and/or discounts on gas. For example, at Fred Meyer, we get cash back every quarter based on how much we spend in their store. While we don’t spend a lot (we only budget $30 a week for grocery shopping), we generally get a small amount back. While it’s not significant, it is still free money that we otherwise wouldn’t be getting if we weren’t a member. We are going to shop there anyway, so we might as well get the money!

In addition to the cash back, Fred Meyer provides gas discounts, which we use all the time. We also get coupons specific to our shopping needs, rather than generic coupons often found in store mailers. I can also load generic coupons to my rewards card from the Fred Meyer website and stack it with the coupons they mail me. Combine those methods with cash back on Ibotta and we save a lot of money on groceries!

Paribus – Get Money Back on Purchases

Don’t you hate it when you’ve just purchased something and a few days later it goes on sale? A lot of sites allow you to return the item and repurchase at the sale price, but who has that kind of time? Others will do a price adjustment for you, but that’s only if you know what that site’s policy is on price changes. Trying to monitor all of that would take a lot of time! Fortunately, Paribus does all that work for you! Just create an account and they will monitor all your email receipts for items you have purchased. They then watch those items for price changes. If an item changes price (or even just gets delivered late), Paribus will work on your behalf to get a refund.

When Hubby and I first moved into our house we purchased a new microwave. A week later we got a $15 refund because Paribus found a price change on our behalf. We did absolutely nothing! Paribus is backed by Capital One, so this service is completely free.

The Buy Nothing Project – Don’t Spend Money

The Buy Nothing Project is a hidden Facebook gem. The concept is to encourage giving within your local community, so nothing on the page is for sale, but is rather gifted. You can use the group to both give and receive items, at absolutely no cost. We have used it over the years to gift hundreds of items to those in our community and in return, we’ve gotten quite a few items as well. Examples of some of the items my family has been fortunate enough to receive: a play set with a swing and slide for Baby Girl and Love Bug, a wine refrigerator, a comfy rocker recliner, boxes of books, and toys for the girls – just to name a few!

If you aren’t on your local Buy Nothing page, get on it asap! Not only is it a great way to save money, but it’s a cool way to give back to your community as well! Find your local group here.

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up

If you don’t mind buying something already used, save money by looking for deals on online secondhand marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, ebay, Craigslist, or Offer Up. Searching these sites can take time, but it can pay off when you score a great deal on something you need!

Browse Consignment Shops – Buy Used

Similarly to buying secondhand online, shopping local consignment shops can often give you a lot of bang for your buck. Because the kiddos grow so fast, we do all our clothes shopping at our local children’s consignment store, Kid to Kid (click the link to find one near you). We can often score an entirely new wardrobe for Baby Girl for just $30 or $40. That would easily cost over $100 anywhere else! I also love searching consignment shops for items such as purses, home goods, and kid’s toys. Years ago I found a lightly used Coach purse for just $25 – talk about a screaming deal! The fun is in the hunt with consignment – you never know what treasures you will stumble upon!

Shop The Dollar Store – Spend Less Money

I’m going to be honest, there are a lot of things I won’t buy at The Dollar Store. If I need something of high quality that’s going to last, then this isn’t the place I go. I’m wary of off-brand toys or items my kids might use because lead and other harmful chemicals have been found in some items. I also don’t buy things that are marketed as a good deal, when I know in reality they aren’t (based on quantity or other factors).

That said, it can be a goldmine for certain items. Greeting cards, gift bags and party decorations are a steal at just $1. Stickers and name brand coloring supplies are awesome for the kids. Holiday or seasonal decor is also worth a trip. Last year for our summer BBQ I found small, round tealight holders that I used to decorate the tables and it only cost me $8 to do so!

Join Email Subscriptions

If you need a coupon for a specific merchant or product, but can’t find one online, see if you can subscribe to that company’s email. Often when you do this, they will send you a coupon just for signing up. For example, when you subscribe to Overstock, they send you a 12% off coupon. Then every once in a while they will send other coupons, sometimes up to 20% off. That can be a huge savings, especially if you are making a big purchase like furniture. Just make sure you manage your emails and unsubscribe from any you don’t need anymore or your inbox will be overrun with ads!

Groupon – Money Saving Deals

Groupon can be an amazing resource if used correctly. It can also be a rabbit hole into impulse spending, so use it with caution. I only use Groupon if I have a specific need in mind. When Groupon first came out, I was browsing it daily and buying deals right and left. I was often purchasing Groupons I didn’t need or wouldn’t have bought otherwise – not a good way to go!

To avoid this, only visit Groupon when you have a specific need, and use the search feature to find it so you don’t get tempted by other deals while browsing. When you find a deal, do your due diligence and make sure it’s actually a good one! I’ve seen Groupons that look like a good deal, but aren’t any cheaper than buying the service directly from the company. In that case, you’re just tieing up your money with a bunch of fine print.

However, that said, you can also score some really amazing deals. Whenever Hubby and I travel, we look on Groupon for deals in the location we are visiting. When we went to Vegas a few years ago, we had a delicious dinner at an upscale restaurant for just $30 (total!) thanks to a Groupon we purchased. Living Social is another deal site that works similarly, so if I can’t find what I need on Groupon I often look there as well. If you don’t want to spend time searching each site individually, check out Deal News – they compile all the deal sites into one easy-to-use search tool.

Find Promo & Coupon Codes

I never make an online purchase without first searching for a coupon or promo code. Now that I have Honey I don’t need to do this nearly as often, but I still like to cover my bases sometimes and do an independent search. To do this, I simply go to Google and type in “{retailer} promo code.” My preferred site for promo codes is Retail Me Not because I find they are the most reliable and likely to work. That said, there are tons of sites similar to Retail Me Not, so find one you like and make it your go-to site!

Shop Sales

I’m not huge on shopping sales because often they tempt me into buying items I don’t need, but every once in a while I will find one that is worthwhile. Kohl’s often has great sales with items up to 60% off. In addition to that, if you join their mailing list, they will send monthly coupons for 15% to 30% off your purchases. I wait until I get a 30% off coupon and then I will do my shopping (only for items I actually know I need). Oftentimes they also offer Kohl’s cash, so I get $10 back for every $50 I spend. I tuck it away until the eligible date rolls around, and then I go back and get anything else I need. Though it takes a bit of pre-planning, stacking offers like this can really stretch your money.

Bonus Tip: When you find a great sale and you have extra room in the budget, stock up! Every once in a while we will snag an amazing coupon or find a steal of a deal, and then we stock up on that item so that we don’t have to pay full price again for a while.

Ship to Store

I hate paying for shipping, but fortunately, most companies offer a free ship-to-store option. Oftentimes if I don’t hit the minimum for free shipping, I will select ship-to-store and Hubby will swing by on his way home from work. No sense in paying extra for something you can get for free! Now, I will say that sometimes the shipping cost is low enough that it is worth paying to avoid the hassle of picking up in person. Time is money, so determine your own guidelines on this one!

Bonus Tip: If you can go a while without certain items from a specific online retailer, save up your order until you need enough to qualify for free shipping. We do this with our pet needs when we place an order from Chewy. Once we hit their minimum then we save shipping costs!

Costco or Sam’s Club

Bulk stores can be both a blessing and a curse. If you are diligent about your spending, they can be a great way to stock up on essentials for minimal cost. However, it is easy to get caught up in buying too much, which then increases cost due to the very fact that items are in bulk. Hubby and I always joke that we can’t get out of Costco for less than $100, though since having kids that amount is generally more around $300. We do the majority of our shopping at Costco, but we only go once a month and we do not stray from our shopping list (despite the temptation to do so). By doing this we save tons of money on items such as dog food, toilet paper, bulk chicken and turkey, frozen fruits and vegetables, vitamins, toiletries, etc.

Costco Bonus Tips

Bonus Tip #1: Save your receipts! If an item you purchased goes on sale the following month, take your receipt in and they will adjust the price for you. We have gotten up to $30 back this way! Oftentimes we buy diapers for Love Bug when they aren’t on sale, and then the next month they will have a coupon for $8 off. That’s easy money for just a few minutes of your time!

Bonus Tip #2: If you know you are going somewhere and Costco offers a gift card to that store, buy one! Unlike most stores, Costco gives a discount on gift cards. For example, if you’re going to the movies or out for a nice dinner, check Costco first. Gift cards are always discounted – for example, you can get a $100 gift card to popular restaurants for $80. That saves you $20 just by buying it at Costco. It pays to think ahead!

For other tips on saving money, check out these posts: How We Save $1400 for Christmas – The Easy & Painless Way, Making Healthcare Affordable

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