MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Clipping coupons can be a lot of work just to save a few cents. But savings as much as $100 a month is now simple -- thanks to smartphones.
WCCO went along as a local coupon expert surprised shoppers with some big savings using her favorite three coupon apps.
Just to see her push a cart through a store, you'd have no idea of the buying power Sarah Carlson has.
She is a blogger with a passion for a bargain.
Carlson started her blog, Real Housewives Of Minnesota, with a friend two years ago.
As married, working wives, they write about everything from fashion to fitness; but it's Carlson's advice on stretching a dollar that readers follow closely, because of how much she saves.
"At least $100 every month," Carlson said.
Armed with her iPhone, we captured one of her trips to Target. Carlson did a little homework first to maximize her favorite coupon app, Passion for Savings.
The app provides a daily roadmap to the best deals on certain items, or to deals in specific stores. It even points out what's free.
The app directed Carlson to two coupons she printed at home, which came in handy when she met a shopper named Kirsten in the diaper aisle.
Carlson told her what she found.
"If you use a Target coupon, you'll get $3.50 off, and when you stack that with a manufacturer's coupon, you'll get another $2 off," Carlson said.
Kirsten ended up paying $5.50 less than she would have, and got even more diapers.
Carlson also found two more stacked coupons on Passion For Savings that had another shopper, Rachel, paying hardly anything (4 cents) for a hot breakfast item, oatmeal.
Another favorite app of Carlson's turns your smartphone into a scanner. ShopSavvy finds the best deal in a store -- or online -- along with any discounts.
At Target the day we visited, a mini Keurig went for $99.99. After a quick scan, Carlson found the same one for $65.
"That's big savings," she said.
In many cases, Target and other retailers will match that price.
In another example, a TV in store was selling for $429.99. A scan found it as low as $379.99.
Carlson considers the app Ibotta another necessity. You earn coupon dollars by taking polls, watching videos, or maybe sharing a product on Facebook.
"The options to save are endless right now as long as you're taking advantage of it," Carlson said.
She considers couponing more personalized than it's ever been before. And if you're like her, you'll try anything that makes saving money a little easier.
One more app Carlson likes is called SnipSnap.
It allows you to take a picture of a coupon with your phone. It stores the image, which then can be scanned at checkout, making it so there's no paper coupons to worry about.
for more features.