NEW YORK (MainStreet) Extreme couponing -- who's got the time for it? Still, you want to save money without spending all of your time clipping coupons and hunting for deals. The good news is that you can save thousands of dollars every year without sacrificing your life on the altar of big savings. We talked to two leading savings and personal finance experts to get the lowdown on how to get the most savings in the least amount of time.
Follow the Right Blogs
"I like CouponMom.com," says Ellie Kay, who dubs herself America's Family Financial Expert. "It's free, she's already found what's on sale and matched it up with store and manufacturers coupons."
Indeed, one of the great things about the Internet is it allows you to find extreme couponers who have already done most of the legwork for you. You don't have to clip a single coupon.
"One thing that makes couponing extreme is having multiple savings," she says. You can easily find these on any number of couponing websites specific to your ZIP code.
Beyond blogs, Kay recommends apps like Yowza that will help you to get coupon discounts minus the clipping. "The only way to get a lot of these coupons is to use the app," Kay says. What's more, the app allows you to customize your experience to the items you purchase, giving you only the coupons most relevant to you.
"You have to go through a sort of paradigm if you want to be an extreme couponer," says Kay.
What's that paradigm shift? "You don't buy what you need for the week, you buy what's on sale so you can get it free or cheap," she says. Obviously, this is only going to work with non-perishable items, but if you have a pantry full of items you bought a few weeks ago, you're still going to save money as long as you don't throw them out.
Use Digital Coupons
Melea Johnson, founder and CEO of Freebies2Deals.com, urges people to use digital coupons in addition to the more traditional kind. "Most grocery stores have apps," she says, adding that these apps do most of the work for you. "Log in with your grocery shopper card, tap and add the coupons you want and it automatically deducts them from the final cost at the point of sale." This means no clipping -- and you can do all your research once you set foot in the store.
Don't Look Past the Sunday Paper
The Sunday paper is probably the last place you want to look if you're an extremely lazy extreme couponer. Still, Johnson points out a simple fact about the Sunday circular: "You can get five copies of the same coupon, buy five of the same thing and save four for later." How do you get five papers without breaking the bank? Johnson urges you to make friends with your local gas station manager. See if he'll let you take anything that's left over on Monday morning and headed for the recycling bin.
"You can dumpster dive for them, but that's a little out there for me," she says.
Get Your Rebates
One thing both of our experts agree on? Most people don't know that their savings don't stop after the point of purchase. Kay points out that "rebates can range from 50 cents to $50" and are "available on everything from boxes of rice to computers."
Johnson named Ibotta and Checkout 51 as her favorite ways to get cash back on items she buys every day. "You get instant cash back on things like fresh fruit and vegetables," she says.
The Price Matching Secret
Here's one way to get great deals without doing much work at all: price matching. Johnson points out that both Target and Walmart have price-matching corporate policies. "The cashiers at Walmart know about it," she says and will do it right at the register. At Target, you have to go to the customer service booth.
"It takes a little longer, but you save time by shopping all in one place," she says, adding that you can also save 15% to 20% every time you shop.
--Written by Nicholas Pell for MainStreet