Couponing in the Age of the Internet

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Remember the good old days, when momma would take you to the grocery store and you would tear all of those little coupons off of the dispensers they set up in the aisles?  Little did you know, you were the middle man. But it was still a win-win for everybody; the grocery store got the word out about upcoming deals and your momma could focus on the grocery list while those tiny slips of paper kept you occupied at what then seemed like the most boring place on earth.

Now we don’t even have to show up to the store to get those deals.  We don’t have to get the mail and cut out piece after piece of hassle-ridden paper.  All that we need is Google. Tell Siri, “Coupon,” and you’ll practically be swimming in them. We don’t even have to recycle them anymore.  I have to say though, I do miss those dispensers.

All nostalgia aside, there are a ton of ways to get excellent deals at grocery stores.  You can even get paid for your food receipts. To me, this is as close to heaven on earth as it gets. I can get paid to eat?  Suddenly, Sunday grocery day doesn’t seem so unbearable.  And even if you’re more of a purist and you think making cash off of receipts is too good to be true, there are plenty of coupon apps and websites that offer affordable deals suited specifically to your taste.

Scan-Your-Receipt Apps

Ibotta is essentially coupons on steroids in the sense that you get cold hard cash deposited straight into your bank account for making select purchases.   For example, let’s say it’s a hot day and you want a Naked Juice, Green Machine style. Well, you may think it’s too expensive at retail price, ranging from $3.00-$3.50.  Ibotta will give you fifty cents back on the Naked juice. How about $0.75 cash back on any brand of ground beef? Sounds good, right? $1.00 back on kids’ Clif Bars? No problem. You can redeem cash a few different ways.

  1. Send a receipt.  All you have to do is select offers from the Ibotta app, purchase the items that qualify you for the offer, and send your receipt.  

  2. Link your loyalty cards for stores like Walmart, Target, or even Best Buy.  

  3. Make in app purchases through websites such as Amazon, Ebay, and Groupon.  One convenient aspect of Ibotta is that all cash deposits are made within 48 hours.  

There are a few catches that come with using Ibotta.  First, the deals expire, so they require savvy planning.  Next, the app can be kind of finicky in terms of recognizing where your receipts are from and what is on them.  So you have to be diligent which can become time consuming. This makes shopping at places where you have loyalty cards more appealing.  There is also an inactivity fee for when you don’t use the app. But to me, these are small prices to pay for such an innovative app. If you’re looking to save, look no further.

Ibotta may be the most popular “scan your receipt” app, but feel free to checkout these other options.  If you’re worried about the legitimacy of these apps, don’t be. Do a little research online and you’ll find that most have been featured on major television networks, as well as reviewed by many, many satisfied users.  And what’s better, you don’t have to pick one or the other. Find out which one works best for you by experimenting with all of them.

Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is the same concept as Ibotta with one glaring plus side and one glaring down side.  The plus side is that unlike Ibotta, Checkout 51 offers deals on individual products so you are not constricted to specific stores.  Again, diligence is needed in terms of making sure that the app recognizes all of the offers you qualify for.  The downside is that there is no PayPal option and you have to wait for a check to be mailed to you.  

Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog allows you to earn points for any retailer no matter what you buy.  You can redeem 1000 points ($5) for PayPal cash or Amazon codes. You can also play something called the “Hog Slots” which is a rewards program that allows you the chance to win more coinage, and even awards.  One lucky winner a day gets free shopping trip. Nifty, huh? You need the app to collect on coins for this one so you can't use it on a computer, which usually speeds the process up.

Coupon Websites

“Scan-our-receipt” apps seem to be the wave of the future, but with progress comes pain, and you can see that in some of the pitfalls of these apps.  If you aren’t interested in some of the hassles that come from these apps, there are some pretty awesome coupon websites for you that will certainly do the trick.  

Coupon Sherpa
Coupon Sherpa may be the most popular of these sites and for good reason.  Perhaps my favorite aspect of Coupon Sherpa is that there are tons of promo codes.  It’s a beautiful thing when all you have to do is remember a series of numbers and letters to get the prize.  If that’s too hard, do like I do and type them into your phone. There are printable coupons as well, but I’m a millennial and I like the idea of a paperless world.  It’s also a hassle for anyone who doesn’t have on-site access to a printer like me.

Krazy Koupon Lady
Krazy Koupon Lady is another excellent site for coupons.  This may be my favorite website for coupons because it is extremely diverse and with variety, comes liberty.  They have specific sections devoted to your particular needs such as a diaper coupon section, a milk coupon section, and a laundry coupon section, and so on.  Thus, it makes finding coupons for the essentials an easy task. It also offers a freebies section, and perhaps my favorite section, the tips section; which offers user testimonials on how to save smarter, using various techniques.

No matter the site or app you choose, you’re going to save money, and the more money you save, the happier you are.  So smile, and remember that technology is great when used responsibly. An hour checking out the hottest ways to save money is much more rewarding and productive than an hour spent on Instagram or Facebook.  

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