If you know me, you know I like to shop. You might also know that I don’t like to spend a lot of money when I shop. As much as I’d love the dress I saw for $168 last weekend, I don’t have a disposable income that I can dump on clothes like that. I’ll probably be able to find a dress I like just as much, if not more, for a fraction of the cost.
I’ve always been a bargain hunter, but now that I’m in college, it’s become more of a necessity! Whether it’s using coupons or scouring the clearance racks, I almost never buy things full price.
Don’t buy things just because it’s on sale or you have a coupon. If you do, you’ll be spending more money than you want to. Is that skirt from LOFT that doesn’t fit quite right but you bought it because it was only $20 REALLY worth $20? Probably not. You have a coupon for $3 off of dog food! But you don’t have a dog. Not worth it. These tips are meant to help you save on things you would buy whether you had the coupon/rebate or not.
Here are a few of my favorite methods for getting a good deal!
- Shop in the sale or clearance section of the store/website. There are times where I go to a store and only look at the things that are on sale. If I see something I like that isn’t on sale, I don’t buy it. Yet. Sometimes I’ll try to wait for the item to go on sale. Other times, if I don’t buy it immediately, I don’t buy it at all. Impulse buys are a frustrating thing.
- Use coupons! It might mean giving out your email address, but by signing up for newsletters to your favorite stores can save you money! If you don’t want a cluttered inbox, consider creating a new account that you use solely for savings. I also go through the coupon circulars that come in the Sunday newspaper. Yes, I’ve been laughed at for clipping coupons, but money is money. Why pay more than you have to?
- Ebates is my online shopping sidekick. You get cash back on purchases from tons of online sites, and you get a check in the mail several times a year with your rebates. All you have to do is initiate your purchase through the eBates site first. The trick is to use Ebates for purchases you were going to make anyways; it’s great to find out you’ll get cash back on something you wanted already.They even have a browser extension you can get that will alert you if the site you are on has Ebates available! Want to get in on the savings? Get started now and get a bonus $10 cash back when you sign up through this link and make your first purchase of $25 or more.
- Do you shop at Target? If the answer is yes, then you need the Cartwheel app! It has Target-exclusive savings that change from week-to-week, and sometimes the savings even match up with the weekly ad. You can even use manufacturer’s coupons in conjunction with the Cartwheel discounts. Although some of the deals might seem like a mere 5%, it’s 5% less than you’d pay otherwise and it adds up over time-especially if you buy groceries at Target! All you have to do is find the deals you want to use and add them to your barcode. Then, when you are checking out, show the cashier your phone so they can scan the barcode!
- Ibotta is an app that I recently discovered. It has rebates for all sorts of things for a variety of stores. You can cash out through PayPal, Venmo, or a variety of gift cards when you redeem $20 of rebates, which, depending on your usage frequency, could take a few days or it could take months. This is a bit more user intensive when compared to Cartwheel, as you need to scan the barcode of the product and then upload your receipt so they can verify your purchase. It’s still easy and worth the effort, in my opinion. Enter this code in the app as you join to get a $10 bonus when you redeem your first rebate: knjtbhc
- Checkout 51 is an app very similar to Ibotta. The primary difference that I’ve noticed is that you don’t need to scan the items, but you still need to take a picture of your receipt. Once you reach $20 in rebates, you’ll get a check in the mail.
- Poshmark is an app to buy and sell clothing and accessories. You can find great deals on used (and sometimes even new) clothes. The whole process is very well thought out and I haven’t had an issue. To sell things, you just post a few photos, give a description of the product and its condition, and set a price. To buy, you can search for brands or just browse in your size. If you want to get a $5 credit on your first purchase on Poshmark, download the app in the app store and use this code when prompted: NULWP
- If you are a student, ask about a student discount! Lots of stores have them and you’ll save even more just by showing your student ID. If you Google “stores with student discounts,” or something along those lines, you’ll find lots of resources with lists of stores that offer student discounts. Or just ask when you’re checking out!
The best part of all of this is when you can stack discounts/coupons/rebates. Fact: Last night I paid $2 total for 2 full sized bags of peanut butter m&m’s (my favorite candy ever) (not the single serve size). They were on sale for 2/$6 – $2 coupon from using a store rewards program – $1 coupon from Sunday paper – $1 rebate on Checkout51 = 2/$2. Winning!
Notes: I want to be transparent about the personalized codes/links I have listed above. I was not asked to review any of the apps or websites mentioned above. I may, however, receive a bonus when you sign up through the urls or with the codes I have. This does not impact you in any way. In fact, by using the codes/links provided, you’ll get a discount/cash back. If you’d rather not sign up through my links for whatever reason but still want to use the programs, feel free to join through the generic websites.
- By using my Ibotta code, I will earn $5 when you redeem your first rebate.
- If you sign up for Ebates through my link, I will earn $5 when you make your first purchase over $25.
- When you make your first purchase on Poshmark, I will earn a $5 credit.
To my fellow bargain hunters: do you have any tips to add?
Happy shopping (and saving)!