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How online coupons and apps can save you a bundle

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It has never been an easier to save money with grocery coupons. New technologies can help the typical household save up to $6,000 a year at grocery stores, drugstores and big-box stores without having to cut out a coupon. 

People know they can save money with coupons, but they tend to forget them. Many also don’t buy the Sunday paper or say they don’t want to be the person holding up the checkout line with a stack of coupons.

A wide variety of free apps solve these problems by being easily accessible on a smartphone, so you can’t forget your coupons. Once selected in the app, store systems automatically process discounts, which eliminates the extra time or embarrassment at the register. Because the apps and digital coupons are free, shoppers don’t need to buy a newspaper to get these savings.  

No more excuses -- here’s what you can do to start cashing in on easy savings in 2017:

Download the apps for your stores to get digital coupons, store coupons, and special discounts.  Most stores have an app that offers their own store coupons and promotions.  Apps feature digital coupons that work seamlessly without handling any paper coupons. Shoppers select the coupons they want in the app and add the coupon information to their loyalty card.  When the cashier scans the loyalty card, the coupon savings comes off the bill automatically.

Most grocery store chains have apps with hundreds of digital coupons. CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Target have apps that offer digital manufacturers’ coupons, store coupons and store rewards programs.  When shoppers combine store and manufacturers coupons with rewards points, it’s common to find items that are free after all savings.

Shoppers can select coupons and offers within the app while shopping in the store, making it easy to cash in on savings with minimal planning time. Using apps also cuts down on having to carry around multiple store loyalty cards, since they are built into the app.

Use cash-back apps to get cash offers after purchasing products, which can be used on top of coupons. I’m a big fan of the newest invention in coupons -- cash-back apps that give you money after you buy an item. You select offers in the cash-back app and then upload a picture of your receipt via the app. Once verified, cash is put into your account and can be redeemed once the balance hits a minimum amount (typically $20).

Offers include groceries, household items, personal care products, beer, wine, liquor and even retail stores.  Apps with the most offers include Ibotta, Checkout 51, Savingstar and Mobisave.

Use free websites like to do shopping research for you. You’ll be able to cut your grocery bill by 25% to 50% and save hours of time with the help of a website to do the research for you. Deals websites create “best deals lists” by matching sale prices with all coupons and offers available. Popular stores include CVS, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Rite Aid.

Deals websites have “how-to” videos and free tutorials to explain each store’s strategies. Find more local grocery deals websites by entering the name of your store and the term “deals” in a search engine.

Stephanie Nelson is the founder of and the author of “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half.”

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