Warning: This post will be long, I am trying to be as detailed as possible to help out!
Okay, so have you ever watched that show “Extreme Couponing” on TLC? You find yourself sitting on the edge of the couch, biting your nails as the cashier scans each coupon, you wipe the sweat from your forehead and realize you stopped breathing? Well… maybe that is an extreme example, but you get the idea.
Ever since watching that show, I have had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be an extreme couponer and save hundreds of dollars after spending 5 hours in the grocery store dragging my totally willing husband along. There are hundreds of blogs, coupon sites, and guides you can find on the internet just by typing “couponing” into Google. What does all that mumbo jumbo mean?
Examples: P&G, SS, B1G1, $1/1, $1/2, DND, OOP, OOS, Peelie, CRT, MIR, MFR, etc,.
Some of you may feel like you just walked into an awful world of abbreviated text messaging (which I totally hate by the way [not btw], seriously just spell it out! If you have to abbreviate you probably shouldn’t be texting at that time). And for those who are like, “Uhm, is she going to tell me what all those meant?!” Here you go: Proctor and Gamble, SmartSource, buy one get one free, $1 off of 1 item, $1 off of 2 items, do not double, out of pocket, out of stock, those coupons you can peel of products, cash register tape (coupons on back), mail-in rebate, and manufacturer.
Well moving right along. In my opinion, you could memorize all of those and still be lost. Honestly, I am still lost. I did one amazing trip, but I didn’t bother with doubling, making a stockpile, or buying things I wouldn’t use. So what is my secret? I will share with you, in detail the process I worked through. But please don’t beat me up if you are an expert and please don’t get mad at me if it doesn’t work for you!
In my whole one week of becoming a stay at home “wife”, I have found that I am pretty bored! I have never been unemployed ever since I got my first job as a teenager! So now I am trying to fill my time with little projects, that don’t cost money! One day I came across the little app called Ibotta. The idea is that you get paid (in real money, not coupons) to go shopping. Wow that sounds pretty awesome, so what is the catch? Yeah I am not sure about that, because I haven’t found one so far!
Lets Start by explaining Ibotta, to the best of my knowledge. Ibotta is a free app that you can sign up for. Once you are signed up it uses your location to offer you deals. Here are some screenshot examples from my personal Ibotta:
As you can see, most products offer between $0.50 to $3.00 just for purchasing that product! Now you don’t just “get” that money, but you basically do. Here is what I mean: Say you have an offer for Palmolive and Scott Towels Combo for $1.50 (another one I had, but didn’t use). You would play a “trivia” game (answer one question, obvious answer) for $0.50, take a poll for $0.50, and post it on Facebook for $0.50 (which I usually delete immediately, not sure if I am super spamming haha). So when I say you don’t just “get” it, I mean you have to do the easiest tasks ever to earn $1.50.
They also have Store Extras. These are offers that are only redeemable at a specific store. For example, one of my offers in the first photo says “Target Extras” in the top left hand corner. That means I could have only redeemed the Barilla Plus and Ore Ida offers from a Target receipt. Other stores in the Texas area that are supported by Ibotta are: Walgreens, CVS, Dollar General, Kroger, Family Dollar, 7-Eleven, Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, Tom Thumb, Costco, Whole Foods, Military Commissary, and H-E-B. Those are just my “nearby” stores. Once you download the app, just go to Settings & Help and tap on Supported Stores. You can look at Nearby or A-Z store lists.
Ibotta also offers bonuses. These are what I used to super boost my savings. When I signed up for Ibotta, they offered me a free $10 “share the love” bonus where they would give me $10 just for redeeming 5 offers in the first two weeks. Another major bonus was the $20 for 10 bonus. In this bonus they gave me a list of about 17 offers, and as long as I redeemed 10 offers I received $20 bonus cash. Remember those 5 offers from the $10 Share the Love bonus? As long as they are on the $20 for 10 list, they will apply to both bonuses! (This is the same for all offers! Hopefully Ibotta doesn’t change this amazing feature!) Here is a picture of some of my bonus offers and my activity page when I completed them!
Other offers you see mentioned are $3 Freshen Up! bonus, $3 Kitchen & Bath Bonus, and $5 Autumn Stock Up Bonus. I am not going in to too much detail, because I can only assume everyone gets the same deals? But who knows, Ibotta might be very customized, and that would be awesome! Since the app is free, seriously just get it and browse the bonuses. Most of them have repeat items, so if you buy them ONCE, they apply too all offers they are listed in!
One thing that worried me was that there were sometimes specific sizes and products you had to purchase in order for it to qualify. Ibotta thought of that too and installed a barcode scanner that you can use while shopping. All you do is choose the offer you are trying to find, click the barcode in the right hand corner and scan your item. If it is correct then you will see a check mark and it says something like Matches Offer!
All you need to redeem your offers is the receipt and the products nearby so you can scan the barcode. You just click the redeem section and a camera comes up that shows you how to position the receipt. You are them prompted to choose the offers on the receipt pictured and scan those barcodes. Its as easy as can be!
Once you have racked up $5, you are able to transfer it to PayPal (from there you can put it into your bank account). So it is real cash money! It is not wait 4-6 weeks for a giftcard or prepaid card. It is get money in your account now! I took a screenshot of my PayPal to show you it really does transfer. (I accidentally typed in 47 instead of 57, so I have two transfers!)
So as you can see, this all seems pretty legit so far! Now on to my shopping trip. (I will also discuss Target’s app Cartwheel, but not is such depth)
First Coupon Adventure
For my first ever coupon adventure I used: Ibotta, Cartwheel, Manufacturer Coupons, Target RedCard, and my guys employee discount (which only accounted for about $3 of discounts at one of the three stores I went to, so don’t be discouraged that you don’t have that!)
Here are the goodies I got:
Barilla Plus Pasta, 6pk Viva Paper Towels, 12 roll Scotts TP, Scotts flushable wipes, Colgate Advanced Whitening Toothpaste, Colgate 360 Toothbrush, Poise Feminine Pads, Ore Ida Simply Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style Fries, U by Kotex Tampons, Kleenex Hand Towels 60ct, 4pk Jimmy Dean Delights, single Kleenex box, Cottonelle flushable wipes, 3 pk Kleenex boxes, Softsoap, 12 roll Cottonelle TP, Huggies baby wipes, and 2pk Aquafresh Extreme Clean. Retail Value (straight off the shelf at my store, might include sale price for the public) $71.61. Apparently I am terrible at math…when I subtract my receipts from Ibotta I paid $0.90 out of pocket, but if I subtract all my savings from the broken down list I earned $0.74 haha. Ibotta was a major chunk being $54.75 (I had already earned $2.25 before I learned how to really work it!)
Employee Discount: $2.97
RedCard Discount: $1.20
Manufacturer/Store Coupons: $12.50
It took me about a day to plan out my trip, but I am a sucker for trying to crunch numbers over and over again. I looked at all the bonuses that would give me the max amount of money but also included items I would use. I don’t want to become one of those couponers that has a stockpile of 100 detergents or something because 1) I live in an apartment with no storage space and 2) I don’t have the time for those big shopping trips for things. I would consider doing it if maybe I was going to donate to my local homeless help center or I had children, but right now its not necessary. Plus, not to sound like I am on a high horse, but this blog is about eating educated and most of the coupons are for frozen, boxed, processed foods and drinks that I do not want in my home even if they are free. If anyone knows about produce coupons/discounts please let me know! =D
After planning and writing out my list, with estimated prices, if I had a coupon, what store I thought would be the cheapest, and what day I would buy it. (I split up my days for two reasons: 1) A bonus offer stated I had to buy 2 items each days for 2 days (total of 4 items) and 2) I still have a life that includes family, school, and I nanny once or twice a week.
I looked online for some of the prices, but of course some say prices vary by store or just don’t list sale items. So I made a list and went to Dollar General, Target, and Walmart and wrote down all the prices. I could then calculate the actual prices with coupons and discounts to find the best deals. One stumbling block I had was once again I had to buy 3 items for a bonus, but all at the same store. So while Dollar General was cheapest for 2 of the items, they didn’t even carry the other one or the 3rd one was so high in price it cancelled out the cheapness of the other two. I am telling you this is going to take some time investment!
Lastly I went shopping with my list. I had planned for a profit of $10.50, so when some items had different prices than what I planned, or if i didn’t calculate taxes just right (who knows if they take you before or after they take off a coupon?!) I wasn’t too worried because I knew I had that $10.50 reserve and it would still be free!
Cartwheel is a Target app that offers (that I have seen) between 5% and 25% off items throughout the store. Unlike Ibotta, Cartwheel offers a lot of discounts on Target’s store brand “Market Pantry”. All you do is browse the offers, choose what you want, and then show them your smartphone at check out to allow them to scan a barcode that holds your discounts. The great thing about this app is that the offers are able to be used over and over again until they expire, unlike Ibotta its a one time buy. I just noticed it also keeps track of your savings on the app!
I am not sure if it is a coincidence or Target it very smart, but this week many of the items I could buy from the Ibotta list was also 5% off on Cartwheel. However I still chose to buy them at Walmart because they were cheaper (smaller packages sometimes also).
To find legit coupons I used coupons.com and simply just searched for example Cottonelle coupons. I went directly to their website under special offers and received a $2 off coupon that easy. Seriously just search and they are free. I have not looked into the Sunday paper and inserts, I just am not ready to go buy a newspaper to save money.
One important thing to remember is this was not like the tv show where they scan hundreds of coupons and get a $400 bill down to $5 because the Ibotta rewards come after the receipt prints and you turn it in!
Wow, I hope this post was not all over the place! I feel like there is so much I want to share and just spewed it out!
Feel free to ask any questions and I am not being paid (unfortunately! haha) by any of these products or applications, this entry is entirely my own opinion!