6 Highly Effective Ways to Save Without Clipping a Coupon


Let's face it, clipping coupons can be a very time consuming activity — and it's definitely not for everyone. In terms of savings, the time spent finding, cutting, and organizing coupons is not always worth it. It's with this in mind that I've come up with some easy ways to save significant money that don't require a coupon. So put down the scissors, walk away from the Sunday paper, and save money with these insider tips instead. (See also: 9 Retailers That Let You Stack Coupons)

1. Shop on the Right Day of the Week

Were you aware that many popular retailers have specific days of the week where they do all of their internal store markdowns? Shop right afterward, and you'll have first dibs on new clearance items, no coupon required. For example, save money on clearance clothing when they actually have your size or color of choice in-stock. Here are a few markdown days to keep in mind so you can shop and save accordingly:

  • Kohl's: I had an employee tell me to shop on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. She said those are the two days when you'll find the freshest markdowns.
  • Macy's: I was told by an anonymous employee that they start their markdowns on Sundays and wrap things up by Tuesday morning. Shop on Tuesday afternoon and get first dibs on new markdowns.
  • Old Navy: The day to shop at Old Navy is Wednesday. Try it and you'll often find the clearance section stocked with new clothing as well as clearance stuff that has been marked down even further.
  • Ross Dress for Less: If you're a big Ross shopper like myself, you'll want to check out their inventory starting on a Monday. I was told by an employee, who heads up her store's clearance department, that Monday is the only day they do their markdowns.
  • JCPenney: If you can shop at JCPenney on the first and third Friday of every month, you'll find a plethora of new clearance deals to pick from.

2. Always Use a Cash Back Site

If you're shopping online and not doing it through a reputable cash back website, you're clearly leaving money on the table. In recent years, cash back sites have had the reputation of being more hassle than they're worth. After all, who has time to jump through a bunch of hoops to save a measly 50 cents? Those days are officially gone. Popular sites like Ebates, TopCashback, and BeFrugal have made it incredibly easy to shop online and get significant money back on your purchases by utilizing mobile apps and browser add-ons or extensions.

Also, the amount of money you get back has risen as well. A perfect example is TopCashback.com as they give back all of the commissions they receive from retailers to their users. So instead of splitting the 8% with their users, they're giving it all to them — and instead are making their money via advertising and charging retailers for premium placement on their website. Because of this generous business model, the cash back rates are definitely high enough to make it worth your while.

3. Subscribe and Save Programs

Subscribe and save programs are an oft forgotten way to save money on household items that you'll need on a recurring basis. No coupon clipping required. Think things like diapers, laundry detergent, dog food, paper products, and trash bags, to name a few. The two leading players are Amazon and Target and the savings their programs provide is substantial. Their pricing often beats that of warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. Perhaps the best feature is they both come with free delivery, which means no more roller carts full of dog food and toilet paper to try and squeeze into the minivan.

4. Wal-Mart Savings Catcher App

If the idea of clipping coupons for your next trip to Wal-Mart gives you the cold sweats, their Savings Catcher App is definitely for you. All the app requires you to do is scan your Wal-Mart store receipt after each visit. No scissors required. Wal-Mart will then scour the prices and ads from local competitors and credit your account if they find a lower price on something you purchased. Think of it like an easy way to guarantee you get the lowest price in town on everything you buy.

I've been using the app for close to a year and my balance is currently at $42.92. That's a pretty good return on probably 15 minutes of my time. Then when you want to cash out, you can either get a Wal-Mart gift card or redeem via Bluebird by American Express.

5. The Ibotta App

The popular Ibotta's tagline, "Better Than Coupons," pretty much sums it up. Instead of clipping coupons, you redeem rebates on hundreds of grocery store items, most of which you'll be buying anyway, and get money back.

What makes the app stand out from the competition are the rebates available for generic items bought at any store. Buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk from the local corner store, and you can redeem a rebate on each. Then team up with friends and family to start earning cool $5 teamwork bonuses every month and your account balance will really grow. Once your account reaches $20, you can cash out via PayPal, Venmo, or a slew of gift cards from popular retailers.

6. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs

While loyalty programs often get a bad reputation as nothing more than a way for retailers to push advertising on you, they actually serve as a great way to save if you do it right. The key is to only join the programs that'll give you rewards on purchases you'd be making anyway. Here are a few awesome free programs that jump to mind.

  • CVS ExtraCare: You earn a flat 2% back in ExtraBucks from almost all your purchases. (Excludes alcohol, lottery, gift cards, postage stamps, fishing licenses, and the like.) In addition, once you fill 10 prescriptions you get $5 back in ExtraBucks.
  • Walgreens Balance Rewards: Earn 10 points for every dollar spent. Then once you reach 5,000, points you get a free $5 reward.
  • HomeDepot Pro Xtra: Home Depot's loyalty program is a no-brainer if you buy in large quantities. After joining, you start with $20 of your first $200+ purchase. Then you get access to additional savings after that, like 10% off your $2,000+ paint order.
  • Safeway RewardPoints: Along with specific in-store reward deals, Safeway's program allows you to save significant money on your gasoline bill every year. When you spend up to $100 at Safeway, you get a $.10/gallon discount on Safeway gas. Spend $200, and they double it to $. 20 cents less per gallon.
  • Target REDcard: The Target card works a little different from most as it connects to your checking account and works as a debit card. The strong benefits of 5% off every order, free shipping from Target.com, and 30 extra return days makes it a great option for loyal Target shoppers.

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