How to Coupon

Ibotta Saves You Money Without Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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ibottaIbotta is a mobile shopping app. It helps people save money without requiring them to use coupons. Instead, it functions like a rebate system. Ibotta recently obtained additional funding which should keep the app going for a while.

TechCrunch reported at the end of September, 2015, that Ibotta closed $40 million in Series C funding. Those funds will be used to scale its business. The funding round was led by Jim Clark, who is the founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape (and an Ibotta board member).

The thing that makes Ibotta different from other coupon apps is that it doesn’t involve any coupons at all. Instead, it enables shoppers who use the Ibotta app to get cash back on certain purchases. Other apps might “pay” users in points that can be used to buy something worthwhile.

One way to use Ibotta is by submitting a receipt. Before you go shopping, unlock cash rewards on great products by completing simple tasks. Some of those tasks may include: “liking” a company on Facebook, watching a video, taking a poll, playing trivia, learning a fact about a company or product, or telling Ibotta how much you like a specific product.

Next, go shopping. Make sure you purchase the products that you have unlocked at a supported store. Check the Ibotta website for a list of supported stores. After your purchase, scan your product barcodes and submit a photo of your receipt to Ibotta. Within 48 hours, Ibotta will have the cash deposited to your Ibotta account.

Another way to use Ibotta is to choose one of their Preferred Partners and connect either your store loyalty card or your phone number to Ibotta. As before, you need to do tasks to unlock products before you shop. After that, use your loyalty card or phone number at check out. Ibotta will put the cash into your Ibotta account within 48 hours.

In addition, you can use Ibotta to get cash back when you shop online. You might receive Ibotta promo codes or bonuses that will help save you money on your purchases. According to the Ibotta website, you can give your friends $1, and yourself $2, every time a friend joins Ibotta with your referral code. (That friend has to redeem a rebate within two weeks).

Overall, Ibotta might be a good thing for people who love to shop, and who have a lot of friends who also love to shop. It’s great for people who don’t like using coupons and who want to earn cash back from using Ibotta. It might not be an ideal app for people who prefer coupons or who don’t want to try and convince their friends to use the Ibotta app. Some people might find the tasks Ibotta requires to be tedious.

Download it HERE!


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Coupon Myths – Debunked!

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2015 at 7:33 pm
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stackingcouponsHow much do you know about coupons? Can you tell the difference between a coupon myth and factual information about coupons? Here are several coupon myths that have been debunked. Did any of them surprise you?

There aren’t any coupons for fresh foods.
This coupon myth may have been true in the past. Today, you can actually find coupons for fresh eggs, potatoes, corn, bananas, and much more! Saving Star did a weekly Healthy Offer coupon for fresh produce. Some grocery stores are starting to do this, too.

You can always trust the coupons you find online.
This coupon myth is one that could get you into a lot of trouble. Beware of coupons that sound too good to be true! They typically are fake coupons. The store won’t accept them and you could get in charged with coupon fraud for trying to use them. Never print out a coupon that doesn’t have a bar code. That’s a big clue that the coupon is fraudulent.

Only poor people use coupons.
While it is true that some people who are poor do use coupons, it isn’t true that they are the only group who uses coupons. Couponing is popular because everyone likes to get a good deal and to save some money.

There is no longer a stigma for using a coupon. Instead, people who use a lot of coupons just might get complemented for doing so. People are amazed by extreme couponers. Today, everyone uses coupons, no matter what their income happens to be.

Clipping coupons is too time consuming.
This myth is one that prevents a lot of people from trying to use coupons. They think it will take too long to find the coupons, to clip them, and to organize them. This might have been true back when the only way to find coupons was to clip them out of the newspaper.

Today, stores are using mobile coupons. Get the loyalty card for the grocery store you shop at the most. It only takes a few minutes to add digital coupons to it right before you go shopping. Those digital coupons automatically get used when you check out. It hardly takes any time at all to “clip” coupons now!

There aren’t any coupons for brand I like.
This is another myth that stops people from using coupons. They simply don’t know where to find coupons for their favorite brands. One easy way is to sign up for the brand’s email newsletter. Not every newsletter will contain a coupon, but some of them will. You can also try looking at your favorite brand’s Facebook page for coupons.

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Bed Bath & Beyond has a Coupon Problem

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2015 at 10:16 pm
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Bed Bath and Beyond LogoHow many times have you gotten a big, blue and white, coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond in the mail? You’ve probably lost track of how many of those coupons you’ve received over the years. It turns out that the popularity of that coupon is actually causing problems for Bed Bath and Beyond.

Bed Bath & Beyond sends 20 percent off coupons in the mail to countless consumers. It gives people 20 percent off one item – any one item that the customer wants to use the coupon on. This type of coupon is helpful to consumers who need to buy a replacement frying pan, or a new coffeemaker, and want to be able to stay within their budget.

Stores give out coupons like these because they want to attract customers. People come in to use the nifty 20 percent off one item coupon. The store is hoping that the consumer will continue to shop after picking up the one item they want to use the coupon on.

Often, these type of coupons end up encouraging consumers to overspend. They come in for the item connected to the coupon so they can get it for a lower price. As they walk through the store in search of that item, they find more stuff that they decide to purchase in addition to the thing they came in to get.

It turns out that the coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond, that frequently appears in so many people’s mailboxes, is causing problems for the store. There are people today who wait until they have the coupon before they head out to the store to do some shopping. Consumers see that coupon as a “given” and not as a “treat”. It’s no longer special – it is expected.

The Washington Post reports that Bed Bath & Beyond has seen its profit margins “squeezed” as a result of having more and more customers relying on the coupon.

In an article that was posted on September 30, 2015, the Washington Post wrote: “In the most recent quarter, Bed Bath & Beyond reported that its revenue rose 1.7 percent, to $3 billion, but profit fell 10 percent, to $202 million.” Bed Bath & Beyond blames that decrease in revenue on “an order of magnitude increase” in expenses related to coupons.

Do you have a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon that you are planning on using? It might be a good idea to check the store’s coupon policy before you go out the door. Or, call the store and make sure they are still honoring the 20 percent off coupons that they send in the mail.

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Reasons Why Couponing Will Always Be Popular

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Fake Coupons with US CoinsExtreme couponing might be waining in popularity, but the use of coupons will always be popular. This is great for people who use coupons to stretch their budget a little bit farther when times are tough. No matter what else happens, coupons will always be there for you!

There are plenty of reasons why coupons will always be popular. There are obviously great for consumers. In addition, coupons also help the companies that sell products.

Coupons Create Customers
A company that makes yogurt creates a new flavor. They want people who already buy the yogurt to try the new flavor. They also hope that the new flavor will attract additional customers.

To get people to try the newly introduced flavor, the company will send out a coupon that makes the new flavor less expensive than the previously existing flavors. The company hopes that some of the people who used the coupon will continue to buy that product even when they don’t have a coupon.

Coupons Save Money
There are plenty of people who won’t buy a particular product until it goes on sale or until they have a coupon for it. People sign up for grocery store loyalty cards so that they can access the digital coupons that can be loaded onto the card. There are a lot of people who use frequently use coupons and who would be very upset if companies stopped offering them.

Coupons are Mobile
More and more coupons are becoming available through a person’s smart phone (or other mobile device). Coupons are going mobile because the companies who make the coupons want to attract customers who are in their teens and twenties. It might be an attempt to establish “brand loyalty” with the younger consumers, in the hopes that they will become life-long purchasers of a particular brand.

Obviously, once a company has started issuing mobile coupons, people will expect to see more mobile coupons from that company. If the company stops issuing them, they risk losing sales. People who use their phones way more often than their home computers aren’t likely to seek out coupons via a website.

Coupons are Popping Up
We all hate the advertisements that appear in the way of the article we wanted to read on a website. Coupon pop-ups are somewhat different than that. Sometimes, a person will fill up an online cart and then choose not to make the purchase after all. They start to close the browser.

Just then, a coupon pop-up will appear. It might offer free shipping, or a percentage off the total purchase, or something else. The coupon pop-up is an attempt to salvage what might have been a lost sale.

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Could Kmart’s Layaway Make You Overspend?

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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KMART logoIt is only October, but Kmart already has commercials advertising their layaway. The commercials show Santa shopping at Kmart behind a woman in a Kmart shirt who is talking about their layaway program. It can be convenient to put things on layaway, just make sure that you don’t end up overspending.

Kmart layaway is not something new. The store has offered it for a very long time. The key thing to keep in mind with layaway is that it could trick you into spending more than you intended to. If you are paying attention, you can avoid that trap.

The Kmart layaway is easy to use. It allows customers to put items on hold – for a fee. Many people use it to reserve things that they want to buy as gifts for other people, but cannot afford to purchase all at once.

Bring the items you want to the layaway. Pay a $10 down payment. You will have to make a payment on those items every two weeks. You can have the items held for 8 weeks or for 12 weeks.

If you put items on hold for 8 weeks, you will have to pay a service fee of $5. If you choose to cancel your layaway you will be charged a cancellation fee of $10. Or, you can have the items held for 12 weeks. That option comes with a $10 service fee. If you cancel a 12 week layaway, you will be charged a $20 cancellation fee.

In other words, layaway is not free. You will need to spend either a total of $15 (for an 8 week hold) or $20 (for a 12 week hold). An 8 week hold requires you to make 4 payments (one every two weeks). A 12 week hold requires you to make 6 payments (one every two weeks).

It can be easy to lose track of the total amount of money you are spending just to have those items stored in layaway. Make an effort to keep track of what you spend. This will help you determine if layaway is financially worth it to you.

Try and pay your layaway deposit, service fee, and payments in cash. If you use your credit card, and cannot pay off the entire balance on the next bill, you will end up with an interest charge. That makes your layaway more expensive.

Don’t cancel your layaway. You will end up receiving a refund of your payments – minus the service and cancellation fee. You’ve now spent money to put items on hold that you didn’t end up buying. That’s a waste of money!

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4 Frugal Ways to Decorate for Fall

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015 at 5:30 pm
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Decorating your home for Fall doesn't have to cost a fortune!  Here are some tips to make your fall decorating more frugal.It’s time for the pumpkins, leaves, and fall floral decorations! Ready to decorate your home for Fall? You can do it without spending a lot of money. Frugal decorations can look just as lovely as the expensive versions. No one will be able to guess how much, or how little, you spent!

Start with what you have.
Before you make any purchases of fall decorations, it is a good idea to find out what you already have. Set aside some time to go through the garage, attack the attic, and search the storage shed for boxes of Fall decorations that you put away last year. It is easy to forget what was in those boxes.

Sometimes, decorations that have been stored away do not come out of storage very well. Dust everything off and check to see what is still usable. Throw away (or recycle) decorations that have been damaged beyond the point of use. Make a list of things you need to replace.

Check the dollar stores.
The dollar stores sell many of the same type of Fall decorations as the craft stores do. The difference is that things are frugally priced at the dollar stores, and may be quite expensive at the craft stores.

Dollar stores are great places to find plastic leaves and flowers that are in Fall colors. Will you be making a Fall wreath for your front door? You can’t beat the price of the plastic flowers and leaves that are at the dollar stores.

Search for the sales.
Before you head out to your favorite craft store, visit their website. Find out if they are currently having a sale on Fall decorations. Look for printable coupons that can help you save money on the items that you purchase. Avoid buying decorations that you already have at home.

Compare the prices of the Fall decorations at the craft stores with the prices of the Fall decorations sold at department stores. Target, Kmart, Walmart, and other department stores carry seasonal items. Do a little digging and you can figure out which store has the best price on the decorations you want to buy.

Pick some plastic pumpkins.
There are plastic pumpkins, in a variety of sizes and colors, that look just like the real thing. No one will know that you decorated with plastic ones (unless they pick them up). Buy a few little ones, in different colors, to use as a centerpiece on your table. Put some large plastic pumpkins on your porch. The best thing about plastic pumpkins is that they are reusable. You won’t have to buy new ones next year!

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Tips for Using Online Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 8:14 pm
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Want to get the most from online coupons?  Try these simple tips that will save you time and money.Want to get the most out of your online coupons? There are many things that you can do to become more efficient about using digital coupons. Make a habit of using these simple tips, and your couponing will be faster, easier, and more money saving.

Visit store websites
Did you know that many stores have digital coupons that are available on their website? Make sure to check out the store’s website before you go shopping. Target, Walmart, and almost every grocery store offers coupons to customers. Some of these coupons can be printed out, while others will be added to your store loyalty card automatically.

Get the loyalty card
Is there a grocery store that you frequently shop at? Sign up for their loyalty card. They will give you one for free. Once you have the loyalty card, you will automatically get access to lower prices on products all across the store. In addition, you can add coupons to the loyalty card through the store’s website.

Match coupons with sales
The best time to use a coupon is when you can match it with a sale or a store special. You could end up with a bigger discount than you would have gotten without the coupon. Make sure to read the fine print on the coupon before you shop. Find out if the coupon is one that you are allowed to use on sale items.

Consider a credit card
Some clothing stores will mail coupons to people who have the store’s credit card. Victoria’s Secret sends a few coupons every month (that expire by the end of the month). Use those coupons on sale items, and you will save a lot of money. They also send out a special coupon that can be used during the month of the customer’s birthday. This is just one example of a way to get more coupons from a store you frequently shop at.

There is something to keep in mind about using credit cards. Don’t spend more money than you can pay off on your next bill. Keep the balance at zero, and you can avoid paying a finance charge. The coupons you get for having the credit card won’t help if the finance charge is higher than the amount the coupons saved you.

Find a favorite coupon website
Some people spend a lot of time looking at dozens of coupon blogs. You can save time if you pick a favorite coupon blog and just look at that one. Choose one that offers printable coupons directly through their website. Print out the coupons you are planning to use right before you go shopping.



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What to Buy at Fall Festivals

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2015 at 6:11 pm
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Not sure what to buy at the fall festivals?  Here are some tips on the best things to purchase.The fall festivals are starting! These community festivals are fun to visit with your family. It is a good idea to watch how much you are spending so you don’t go over your budget. You can save money if you limit your purchases to things that are fall related and that might be more expensive to buy somewhere else.

4 Items to Buy at Fall Festivals

Pumpkins are the most popular item to use as a fall decoration. If your local fall festival sells them, it may be a good idea to buy some. Before you attend the fest, figure out how many pumpkins you actually need.

Buy the pumpkins right before you leave the festival so you won’t have to carry them around with you. Or, select a few small pumpkins and put them in a bag to make them easier to carry.

Not interested in carving pumpkins this year? There might be a vendor at the fall festival that is selling painted pumpkins. All you have to do is select where to put it, and your decorating is done!

Kettle Corn
The sweet and salty kettle corn that you can buy from a festival is always going to be better than the pre-packaged kind. The warm popcorn will smell good and be nice to carry around on a cool autumn day. Kettle corn is typically inexpensive and comes in large bags. Share it with your family!

Fall Decorations
The best time to buy unique, handmade, fall decorations is during the fall festivals. Vendors who create decorative holiday items will be selling them. The price might be a bit higher than the decorations you can find in stores. The extra cost might be worth it because you will be getting a one of a kind item.

What kinds of decorations should you look for? Select ones that can be used again next year. Handmade scarecrows, fall wreaths, and plastic painted pumpkins are good choices. If you aren’t concerned about reusable decorations, buy a carved gourd or pumpkin. Flowers in fall colors can make a nice (yet temporary) decoration.

Food From Non-Profits
Getting hungry? Food that is sold at festivals is generally pricey. There’s no getting around the cost, so you may as well use your money responsibly. Look for a food vendor that is being run by a non-profit organization. Your money can help someone!

Look for vendors that are band students who are raising money for upcoming competitions. Religious organizations are another option. Schools that are raising money to upgrade their computers, or buy new textbooks, or to purchase supplies for students in need are also a great place to give your money to.

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Tricks Stores Use to Make You Spend More

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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You went shopping with some coupons, and took advantage of a sale.  How come you ended up spending more than planned?  Stores use tricks to make that happen.You went shopping because you had some coupons, or because the store was having a sale. After you were all finished shopping you realized that you ended up spending much more than you intended to. How does that happen? There are some tricks that stores use that can cause people to spend more money than they planned on spending.

3 Ways Stores Try to Get You to Spend More

Really Large Shopping Carts
For whatever reason, people have a tendency to want to fill up their shopping cart while they are buying groceries. Stores that give shoppers really large shopping carts know that this can make a customer unintentionally spend more money than she planned.

Visually, it looks like the same amount of groceries as when you shopped at a different store that had smaller carts. In reality, you’ve got a lot more products in that cart than you realized. The way to avoid this trick is to use a basket instead of a cart (or to resist the urge to fill up a shopping cart).

Christmas Music
Have you ever wondered why so many stores play Christmas music through their speakers? The reason has to do with nostalgia. The Christmas music makes people happy and reminds them of their childhood. People who enjoy the music they are hearing in a store are likely to stick around for longer than they planned. Naturally, while you are in the store, you just might find more things that you want to buy.

Real Simple notes that some stores include “soundscapes” which have things like sounds of soda fizzing or a steak sizzling hiding in the music. Suddenly, you have the urge to have steak for dinner and a desire for the pack of soda that is on display. One way to avoid this trick is put in your earbuds and listen to music you selected for yourself while you shop.

Free Samples
How could a free sample make someone spend more money? This trick is one that works slowly. You stop for a free sample of sausage, or tea, or whatever is being handed out. Let’s say that you liked it. Your stomach wants more than that little tidbit, and your metabolism might think it is dinner time.

People who are hungry tend to spend more on groceries than people who are full. Everything looks good when you are starving! That free sample influences shoppers to spend more than they planned. It also makes at least some of them buy the food that they got a free sample of – even though they had no intentions of buying it when they walked in.

There are two things you can do to avoid this trick. First, don’t go shopping while you are hungry. Eat lunch, or dinner, first. Second, do not accept the free sample.

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Ways to Save on School Lunches

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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School is back in session and your kids will need a packed lunch.  Here are some ways to save on school lunches.The start of a new school year means that people need to get back into the habit of packing school lunches. What you choose to include, and how you put it into the lunch box, really makes a difference. Here are a few ideas that will help your family save money on school lunches.

Plan Around What is On Sale
You can save some money if you pay attention to what is on sale at the grocery store. It helps if you aren’t particularly brand loyal. Compare the big package of individual bags of chips from one brand with a similar one from another brand. One is bound to be less expensive than the other.

This plan also works if you intend to include crackers or cookies in your child’s lunch. Pick the brand that is on sale. Or, choose the one that you have a coupon for. Look for the store brand and compare the price to the big name brands.

Stock Up When Items are On Sale
How many pre-packaged snacks do your kids go through in a week’s worth of school lunches? It might cost less in the long run if you stock up on their favorite snacks while they are on sale. These kinds of snacks don’t tend to expire quickly. Spend the money now, while the product is on sale. Use them up before buying more.

Variety is Important
While some kids prefer to have the exact same kind of lunch every single school day, there are other kids who get bored with food that they have eaten too often. When this happens, kids often choose not to eat the food they have grown tired of. They may be throwing it out instead of eating it. That’s a waste of food and money.

To prevent food boredom, parents should change things up. Offer baby carrots one day, then switch them for cut celery sticks or cherry tomatoes. Applesauce might be more appealing than a huge apple. Grapes are bite sized and easy to eat. Make a regular sandwich one day, and substitute the bread for a tortilla the next day.

Prepare Ahead to Save Time
Want to cut down on the before-school-chaos? Prepare snacks for lunches ahead of time. Divide up a package of cookies or crackers into individual portions. Put each portion into a resealable plastic bag.

Cut up some fresh vegetables the night before, and store them in the refrigerator in individual airtight containers. Make everything as “grab and go” as possible. Your kids might be able to quickly choose their own snacks and put it into the lunchbox themselves.

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