Alright you guys, unless you’re ignoring the real world altogether you know that the holiday shopping kicks off today. Let’s be honest, the holiday shopping season kicked off somewhere right around Halloween, but this is when it starts to get serious!
I used to go out before dawn with my mom on Black Friday to find all the crazy deals, but somewhere between the advent of online shopping and six kids I gave up on the insanity of fighting the crowds to buy a video game console that we ended up giving away because we never used it! I like to think that I’m always finding the best deals, but at some point I have to ask myself what my time is worth in searching non-stop for the best price. I used to coupon a lot, but eventually I gave up because I couldn’t devote all the time I was spending to clipping coupons and then searching the stores, with all my kids in tow, to find the best deals.
Fast forward a few years and a cross country move to Alaska, and suddenly saving money became a little more worth my while. Things are expensive up here. It’s almost impossible for me to get out of the grocery store for under $100, and I probably go to the store a couple of times a week. And we’re lucky here, because we live in town. There are better prices and variety in Anchorage, but we have a few grocery stores, which means there’s some pricing competition. If we lived in rural Alaska things would be way harder to get and way more expensive.
Christina has also recently started with money saving tips, and so we’re back and forth texting each other about the deals we’re finding. The internet and apps have made shopping smart so much easier. Today we’re sharing ten apps/sites that are easy ways to find deals. You don’t need to do all the work yourself, and lots of times you don’t even have to clip coupons (unless you want to!).
*Some of these links are referral links, so I may get a bonus if you use them, but these are all the ones that I use and truly love.
- Shopkick: This app was new to me, but I’m absolutely addicted to it. With Shopkick you earn “kicks” which you trade in for gift cards. The best part though is that you don’t even have to purchase, you just need to scan items on their list. Christina does way better with this because a trip to the mall equals a ton of kicks, and I only have three store to use it with! The only downsides for me are that it’s sometimes fickle with awarding me points at te store’s entrance, and it uses your location services all the time, which can suck up a lot of battery (I just turn that feature off when I’m no in a store).
- Ebates: If you’re shopping online, you need to be using Ebates. Before you head to whatever site you’re using, just go to Ebates and search to see if they’re a participating store. You can also install it directly to your search bar, but I just go through the site, or the App if I’m on my phone. Ebates offers rebates on the sites you are already using. They also will show lots of available coupon codes. This time of year they’re always offering double cash back to different stores. YEsterday GAp had 8% cash back and Nordstrom had 6%. They also work with Target, Amazon and Lego. I went through them to buy my new Franklin Planner and got 10% back plus they gave the code for another coupon which saved me 25% on part of my order.
- Ibotta: I started using Ibotta when I first moved to Alaska, and then I stopped because I thought it was taking too much time. I was going through the app before I went shopping and picking out things I thought I might purchase, but I have changed my workflow with Ibotta. Ibotta offers rebates on specific items purchased at specific stores. It’s usually small amounts, but they all add up. Now, when I get home from the grocery store I go through the app to see if I’ve purchased anything from the list. Then you just need to scan the item and scan your receipt. This way I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any time.
- Walmart Savings Catcher: The Walmart app has a lot of features, but I’m going to be honest, the only one I use is the Savings Catcher. As soon as the cashier hands me my receipt I enter it into the app. Walmart then checks to see if local stores have better prices on any of the items I’ve purchased. If they find a lower price, they add it to my account and I can cash it in for a Walmart gift card. This also has the added benefit of recording my receipt in case I need to return something. Walmart is also great at price matching. Just check with your individual store. My store matches Amazon Prime, which is awesome since a lot of toys are more expensive up here.
- Safeway : I love this app. I can go in a clip all the week’s coupons, and also clip unadvertised coupons. Last week they offered 20% off Gap gift cards. I paired that with Gap’s 40% off sale and the 8% rebate that Ebates offered. That added up to some very real savings. Plus, you can use manufacturers coupons along with the app coupons. In Alaska you can link it with your Alaskan Air Miles card and get bonus miles too, plus there are gas rewards.
- Walgreens: I used to do Walgreens rebates back when you had to mail in your receipts! This is app is great for keeping track of your bonus rewards, but you can also use to clip all the Walgreens coupons, no scissors required!
- Target Cartwheel: I only use this when I’m in Anchorage, but for everyone else who has a Target close by, make sure to install your Cartwheel App. You can use this with Ibotta and Shopkick, so your triple dipping!
- Moola Saving Mom: Christina told me about this one. This is the Facebook page. You can also go to her website, but I like the Fbbecause it’s easier and quicker for me to scroll through, plus you get the added benefit of quickly looking through comments and asking questions.
- Living Rich With Coupons: There are lots of sites like this one that will help you know what’s out there deal wise. Pick one and check it every morning while you’re eating breakfast. If you have a local site, all the better, because then they can tell you what your local stores actually have.
For me, the key with saving money while shopping is to simplify. That’s why I love the apps. If I can save money without too much effort, then I’m all in. It doesn’t matter if I’m only saving small amounts at a time, because it all adds up. I’m not trying to pay my mortgage with couponing, but it does help with Christmas money, or if I’m saving for a fun girls’ weekend. Also, don’t buy what you’ll never use just because it’s cheap. I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and that goes against everything Marie Kondo teaches!