When your mother clipped coupons, it may have involved a folder filing system, scissors, and a keen eye for finding deals that your family could use. Even though most of the coupons from those stacks of Sunday paper coupon booklets only took 25 cents to a dollar off certain products, a pile of them could mean significant savings on the weekly grocery shopping.
As with most paper-based tasks, though, coupon clipping is very time-consuming, plus you have to remember which coupons you have and how to design your grocery list around them to maximize the savings. These days, fewer families read traditional newspapers, and most prefer to get their information online. Therefore, brands that once advertised in the weekly coupon circulars have realized they need to go where their customers are now researching and shopping.
A Whole New World of Couponing
So, while a keen eye is still needed to spot the best deals, couponing has received a digital upgrade, with online coupon sites, coupon codes, instant rebates, and mobile deal alerts. Supermarkets and other retailers are also creating their own apps as a way to offer more savings to sweeten the experience of shopping with them.
Consumers are clearly taking notice. A 2017 year-end report from NCH Marketing Services found that the use of digital coupons led to record consumer savings last year. Thanks to an average coupon face value of $1.95 and increased accessibility to the deals, consumers saved a whopping $3.1 billion.
While shoppers still prefer to receive savings in print formats, a growing number of them enjoy the convenience of receiving offers through their mobile devices. Thirty-two percent of consumers now want coupons and offers delivered to their smartphones or other mobile devices, up from 24 percent last year. In addition, over half of the consumers surveyed have used a grocery store, drugstore, or retailer savings app this year, an increase from the 38 percent that used such apps last year.
Putting the Power of Digital Savings to Work for Your Family
With more shoppers than ever taking advantage of these digital age discounts, now is the time to figure out how you can, too. After all, who couldn’t use more deals to take pressure off the family budget? Follow these strategies to find the digital deals you want just when you need them most:
1. Download phone apps for your favorite brands and stores.
Stores have started to offer special deals and digital coupons through apps you can download on your mobile device. For example, Target’s app provides a way for you to learn about specific deals before you arrive at the store and as you shop. You can also specify products you buy regularly in order to receive alerts when there are instant savings on those items.
Whole Foods now offers its own app as well, which provides information on weekly specials and allows shoppers to download digital coupons while in the store on items they might be interested in buying. Numerous other retailers, such as Walmart, grocery store chains, and department stores, are offering similar apps.
2. Leverage instant rebate apps.
Instant rebate apps are a great way to discover unexpected savings on all types of products. It used to be that getting a product rebate required buying the product, filling out the rebate form, mailing in paperwork, and then waiting several weeks to get a paper rebate check in the mail. Now, apps like Checkout 51, Ibotta, and SavingStar enable you to locate more rebates than you would have known about just through in-store shopping and then receive the savings instantly.
How do these apps work? Once you find the rebate-eligible products you are interested in, you simply buy them and then scan either the product barcode or your receipt to verify. Then, the rebate cash goes into your PayPal account almost immediately. Of course, you can also request a check, but more consumers seem to like the idea of instant rebate reward transfer.
3. Reap credit card rewards.
When it comes to paying for your digital deals with a credit card, money experts recommend selecting reward cards. These credit cards award points that earn cash back or free products or gift cards.
Companies like Upgraded Points offer advice on how to maximize the use of credit card points and miles for travel deals and other perks. For example, imagine using your credit card rewards to fund a trip to Bali or Disneyland. Knowing the right credit card reward program to join will earn you these freebies.
4. Switch to a digital coupon binder.
For those shoppers out there who still like the idea of a coupon binder, there are now digital versions such as SnipSnap and Grocery iQ. SnipSnap is a free digital coupon binder that allows you to download coupons, sort them by expiration date, and categorize them so you can find and present the right ones at checkout. It also includes a coupon location feature that will dish up deals based on where you are in town or even while you are in a checkout line.
Grocery iQ offers similar couponing functionality. However, it also helps minimize impulse purchases by tying digital coupons to saved grocery lists. You’re also able to store grocery store loyalty card information so you can collect those rewards at checkout.
Time to Enjoy Digital Savings
While coupon clipping served its purpose, so much of your life now involves a mobile device. If you are paying bills, making purchases, and doing research online, then it makes sense to move your couponing online, too.