Okay, I admit it. I’m the person nobody wants to stand behind in the checkout aisle: I am the dreaded Coupon Lady. (Insert Jaws theme here).
You know the type, and I’m willing to bet you can spot us from a mile off. We’re usually frantically pressing buttons on our smartphones to make sure we’re getting the best deal, occasionally scanning products, and almost always carrying a tote bag — to house our coupon binder, of course. Because when you’re this dedicated to saving money, you’ve got your coupons sorted by category, all neatly tucked away in their proper folder.
(Okay, I also admit they’re sometimes crammed haphazardly into a pocket in my purse, but, hey, nobody’s perfect).
But the truth of the matter is that couponing takes time, and not everyone can pack that time into their already busy schedules. Watch an episode of Extreme Couponing, and you’ll hear shoppers talk about how it’s a 15-40 hour job, often on top of a full-time job. It blows my mind how they can make it work without losing their minds.
Except I’m not talking about filling your spare bedroom with a stockpile of 500 cans of soup and enough toothpaste to last you through a zombie apocalypse. There are no eight hour shopping hauls that require the assistance of an extended cab F-150. All I’m talking about is making back some of the money you already spend when you stock up on coffee, eggs, bread, and those late-night online trips to Amazon you forget about until the box shows up.
Who doesn’t want that, am I right?
So, without further adieu, here are a few ways I like to earn a quick buck or two whether I’m at Target or shopping at Sephora.com from home in yoga pants with a glass of wine… Doesn’t everybody do that? A heads up: I’ll make a few bucks if you sign up using my referral code, but it won’t cost you a thing. Plus, when you sign up, you’ll get your own referral code you can give to friends and make extra money. Cool, right?
1.) Ibotta: Everybody’s heard of this one, right? It’s awesome, and I don’t know why I ever bothered to shop without it. Getting some bread? Download the app, sign up using the code giirthl, add your favorite stores, add the deals you want to use, and then scan your receipt when you’re done shopping. Easy peasy. You can also scan some items without having to buy them for extra dough, and they have an online shopping feature that gives you a percentage of what you spend back. So cool.
2.) Swagbucks: This is probably my absolute favorite shopping portal because you can do so much with it. Have a spare twenty minutes? Watch a few videos or take a survey. Play some games! There are so many stores on here including the biggies like Sephora, Ulta, Walmart, and Target. Just search for the store you want under the Shop section, click the link, and they’ll redirect you to the store you want. Boom! You’re on your way to making money. When you reach the cash out level, you can have the money sent to your PayPal account, a Gamestop card, an Amazon gift card… They have so many cash out options it’s crazy. And if you sign up using this link, you’ll automatically get 150 Swagbucks!
3.) Ebates: If surveys and games aren’t your thing, you might want to go for the old standby, Ebates. Straightforward and amazingly easy to use, Ebates does exactly what it says on the tin. Click the store, get redirected, and the money comes rolling in. Well, trickling, but we’re not gonna make a fortune off of Ebates. It is a great way to finance your coffee habit, though. My favorite feature of theirs is the Double Cash Back Stores link right up at the top so you’ll always know where to get the most bang for your buck. They also have a new In Store section so you can make cash back everywhere! Use my referral link to sign up, and you’ll get $10 back after you spend your first $25. How’s that for a nice bonus?
4.) Shopkick: I just found out about Shopkick, which pays you in kicks that add up to points you can use to buy gift cards. You can earn kicks just by walking into the store and checking in, scanning items on the shelf, making a purchase with a credit card linked to the app, scanning your receipts, and more! It’s super fun, super easy, and you’ll get 250 kicks for using the code FREE333709 when you join!
See? Not a single scrap of paper in sight. I recommend playing around with the apps for a while and seeing what works best for you. Maybe you’re not keen on surveys, but you like watching videos. You can also buy magazine subscriptions and use Groupon, so if that’s something you’re already doing, it makes sense to get a few dollars back doing it.
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Sometimes all it takes is having a couple of apps on your phone. Get all your kicks in the form of Amazon cards so you don’t have to cut back on your book buying habit. (Ahem). Hoard Swagbucks through the year and cash out right before Christmas. Treat yourself!
I also recommend checking between Ebates and Swagbucks when shopping. Sometimes Ebates will offer 4% cash back at a store, while Swagbucks will offer 6% at the same store. Just a few clicks can make the difference between a free grande iced coconut milk latte and a free venti. (I’m all about that coffee. Can you tell?)
I have a few posts on saving (and making) money in general in the works, but if you’re looking for a good place to get started, there’s only one person whose name springs to mind: Clark Howard.
I spent twenty years in Atlanta, and like any good Georgia girl, I will sing Clark Howard’s praises until the cows come home. (Is that a saying everywhere, or is it just a southern thing?) Following the September 11 attacks, he joined the Georgia State Defense Force. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, he rushed from my then-hometown to my current hometown to provide help with medical evacuations.
(Nope, he’s not paying me to talk about him. I just love the man).
Back to the money aspect. Check out his site, and you’ll find everything from the best money-saving travel sites to simple things you can do to cut your expenses. Check the Guides page for easy site navigation, or you could just do like I do and spend hours reading as many articles as possible while putting off going to sleep. (Don’t do that. It’s bad).
This brings an end to our brief foray into saving a few bucks, but it’s the first of many. I hope this was helpful, and if you learned nothing else, I hope you learned this: I LOVE YOU, CLARK HOWARD! (And saving money is good!)
If you guys have any tips and tricks, feel free to share them with everybody in the comments!