Feeding a family of seven on a budget is not the easiest task. Thankfully over the years I've honed my skills and found lots of different tricks and tips for keeping our grocery budget at a number that works for our family - but I'm always looking for more ways to make our budget work for us!
I'm so thankful to live in a digital age. Yes, there are downsides to technology, but there are so many good things as well! I think back to growing up when I'd watch my mom cut coupons to save a little bit of money on our weekly groceries. To be fair, I spent a number of years doing the same thing during the big "extreme couponer" fad. And yes, I saved a good amount of money... but I also spent a lot of time looking for good deals.
I don't have that time anymore.
Not to mention that stores have really tightened their belts when it comes to coupon deals. I used to be able to walk into a grocery store and save nearly 50% of the bill, but now they've put lots of rules in place that make getting cheap groceries harder. Thankfully we are in a place financially where we can afford to go without coupons. Plus we are eating significantly more from scratch so we wouldn't be able to use most coupons anyway!
That all being said, I still love a good deal. I still scour the weekly ads using the Flipp app. Every Sunday and Wednesday I open it up and browse the new ads (different stores have different start dates for their ads and Sunday and Wednesday are the start dates in our area) to see what deals I can find.
Once I check out the deals and get an idea of the meals for the upcoming week I head to my reward programs to see if there are any deals for buying items that are already on my list. That's the key to all this - reward programs are great for putting a little cash back in your pocket, but only if you are buying items that you actually need! As soon as you use a reward program to justify unnecessary purchases then they've won and you've lost. It might take you longer to earn a substantial amount of money, but you aren't out that $5 for snacks that you only earned $0.50 for, get it?
I'm not using these rewards to cut our grocery budget drastically. Instead I'm using them to tuck away a little bit here and there for buying items that are already on my list so we have some extra cash for fun splurges or Christmas and birthday gifts. Again, it's not going to put mega bucks in your pocket, but if you are already shopping, what does it hurt to spend a few minutes uploading your receipt to a few places to earn some pocket change?
5 Rewards programs to save on groceries and household essentials
I've been using Ibotta for several years and I like that they frequently feature "any brand" offers. We don't buy a lot of name brand items because store brand work just as well and cost significantly less - but there aren't usually coupons for store brands! Often I'm able to get $0.25 back on things like bananas, milk, and apples. Often they even include an "any item" rebate which allows you to earn money on ANY SINGLE ITEM you buy - no specifics! That means you could earn every week.
Tips for using Ibotta
Three ways to earn: upload a receipt, link a loyalty card, or purchase through the app
Check out the offers before you go shopping
Take note of item sizes - some are for specific sized items, other are for any size
Some offers are available at multiple stores, others are exclusive to specific stores
Walmart has the greatest variety of offers
You can earn buy shopping online through the app
Build a team with your friends to earn bonuses!
Redeem your money via PayPal, Venmo, or gift card once you hit $20!
Ibotta also has a great referral program! You get $5 for each friend that joins and they will earn $10 when they join with your referral code and redeem their first offer. There's no limit to how many friends you can refer!
March Ibotta Bonus: Invite four friends and you earn $40 when they try the app! Wowza!!
Checkout 51 works like most grocery rewards programs. Pick the offers you like and load them to your account, purchase them at any store, then upload a photo to the app or website. When your account reaches $20 they will send you a check!
Tips for using Checkout 51
Offers go live on Thursdays at 12:00 AM in each time zone, and expire the following Wednesday at 11:59 PM in each time zone.
We’ll send you an email and notification letting you know so you never miss out! (If your offer list has not been updated, log out of the app and log back in. The new offers should appear.)
In order to redeem an offer, please be sure to purchase the items and upload your receipt while the offers are live.
Online orders are eligible! An itemized packing slip is needed and must include the date, store name or logo, total, and items including prices.
Unfortunately the referral program is currently not available so even though you can earn money for your own purchases, telling friends will only get you kindness points, not anything in the app ;)
Shopkick is a fun reward program to use because you don't actually have to buy anything to get rewarded! The easiest kicks are earned simply by walking in the door of participating stores. Places like Walmart, Target, and CVS will give you kicks just by entering the store and having the app open - awesome! You can also earn kicks by scanning select products and earn huge amounts of kicks when you purchase those items. We scored big over the holidays when they offered 1 kick per dollar spent on everything in select stores plus 750 kicks for each LEGO purchase. It was great!
Tips for using Shopkick
Make sure your app is open before you enter the store. You might need to stand in the entrance area for a few minutes to get recognized but usually it works for me within a minute or so.
Get your kids involved (if they are old enough) and make finding the scan items a game!
Link your card at select stores to earn while shopping online
Invite your friends via the app to earn referral bonuses! When your friend enters your referral bonus you both earn 250 kicks once they enter a store or scan an item within 7 days of signing up!
Do the married date night game and walk around Target or Walmart getting kicks like we do ;)
Once you've earned enough kicks you can trade them in for gift cards to places like Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Cheesecake Factory, Sephora, and more!
Fetch Rewards is a fairly new grocery rewards program but they are doing the rewards angle a little differently. Unlike some programs there is no clipping of products before you shop and they accept receipts from any store. Buy what you need, scan your receipt, and you will get points on any brands and products in their inventory. They are partnered with hundreds of major brands so you are sure to find products you love to get your points.
Tips for using Fetch
Only brand names work with Fetch so make sure you know what brands are going to earn you points.
Occasionally you will need to verify your items due to stores using abbreviated receipts. To verify an item simply scan the item's barcode.
You can earn Base Points and Bonus Points when you scan your receipt. Base points are determined by the dollar amount of the item. Bonus Points will be awarded if the price of the item exceeds the target price.
Want to get 2,000 bonus points on your first receipt with Fetch Rewards? Use my referral code listed below and redeem your first receipt to earn 2,000 bonus points!
I've been using Swagbucks for almost ten years now and while I'm not as active as I once was (extra kids will do that to ya!) I still use it for printing out coupons to earn the extra points. If I'm going to print a coupon for toothpaste or toilet paper I may as well earn a little anyway, right? Plus then I might be able to scan my receipt with another app and earn even more!
There are lots of ways to earn Swagbucks (SB) but I'm going to focus on the two ways I use Swagbucks to help me save money on household items.
1. I print coupons to use in store. For each coupon you redeem you earn 10SB. Since I don't use coupons a whole lot for food anymore I do what I can to find coupons for household items. By printing them from Swagbucks I'm not only earning Swagbucks I'm also saving a bit of money out of pocket at the store. Double win!
2. I use my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards to purchase items for the house. I've come to love Subscribe & Save for certain items and when I can cash in my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards and buy things like tea, toilet paper, or coffee filters it's a whole cycle of saving money!
Tips for using Swagbucks
Run the videos in the background. Keep your tablet, phone, or computer running with their videos (muted!) and passively earn points. It can take a while but since you don't need to be actively watching the videos you can focus on other tasks while this is happening.
Complete your daily to-do list which can earn you bonus SBs.
Fill up your daily meter to earn a 10% bonus. The more consecutive days you reach your goal the bigger your bonus will be.
Save up your SBs until you can purchase a $25 gift card at a discount. You are allowed one discounted $25 gift card per month (2200 SBs vs 2500 SBs)
Share your referral code with friends! You will earn 10% of their earnings for LIFE!
Want to join Swagbucks? Join here with my referral code to get a 300 SB bonus when you earn 300 SB.
Do you use any rewards programs to help save or earn money on household items?
I'd love to hear about them in the comments!