- Shows like “Extreme Couponing” exposed viewers to a lifestyle dedicated to getting the best deal.
- As Black Friday becomes bigger, people have become experts at using coupons.
- I used a few tips and tricks from couponing experts to get my holiday shopping out of the way.
- This article is part of “Better Holidays,” a series highlighting different ways to make holiday celebrations easier and memorable.
With Black Friday approaching, I wanted to get some of my holiday shopping out of the way as early as possible.
I consider myself to be moderately good at getting deals. I use Honey, a browser extension that automatically applies discount codes at checkout so you know you’re getting the best price. I’ve been known to price check at big-box stores like Target. And I have two store credit cards that rack up points.
But extreme couponing is a whole different beast. As seen on shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” which aired for two years, it involves planning, research, and lots of time spent comparing prices.
I knew if I wanted to try it, I’d need to reach out to some experts to get the best deals. Here’s how it went.
Cash-back apps are exactly what they sound like: apps that, when you upload your receipt or use the app or website to shop online, you get cash back, as long as you make an account.
These apps also tend to recommend buying gift cards and then using them to buy things for a cheaper price, a common shopping hack.
However, Ibotta requires using a debit card to purchase gift cards, and I never use my debit card to online shop in case it gets hacked — I learned that one the hard way.
I chose to use Ibotta because it seemed to have more brands that I’d be using for holiday shopping than Shopmium, which might be more ideal for grocery shopping.
There were many categories that were eligible for this 10% cash back offer at Walmart, for example.
But what wasn’t eligible? Groceries and food, tires, video game hardware, any Apple products, and gift cards.
It’s an extra step to double-check your purchases are covered, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Using Ibotta is simple. First, I searched Sephora on the website, clicked the Shop button, and was automatically able to get 2% cash back on my purchase.
Instead, I had to open a new tab, go to my Sephora cart again, and then copy and paste the coupon code I wanted to use in the original Ibotta affiliate tab.
This wasn’t difficult, but just an extra step — something I discovered is commonplace in the couponing community. It’s not hard, just a little time-consuming.
Overall, my purchase of two gift sets and a face mask for $49 actually turned into the gift sets, the face mask, a lip-gloss sample, and two customary free Sephora samples for $34 (before tax) — plus the cash back from Ibotta.
I thought it was a good first attempt.
Since there’s no time like the present (no pun intended), a coffee maker was my next attempted coupon purchase.
My mom already enjoys Ninja products, and Ninja was one of the brands that gets cash back on Ibotta, so I decided to try my luck and see if I could find any good deals.
Ibotta and Honey both recommended purchasing the coffee-maker from Home Depot, but I’m still not sure that the $69.99 sale price is the best price I’m going to get — however, Home Depot guarantees price-matching within 30 days of purchase.
So, if I find a better deal within a month of this purchase, Home Depot will match the price.
I decided to take the plunge and buy it (and get 4% cash back on Ibotta), but I added the product to a watchlist on the Ibotta app; I’ll be able to see if it drops in price anywhere across the internet.
I also signed up for email blasts from Home Depot, which gave me an additional $5 off.
The coffee maker itself was on sale for 13% off — normally it’s $79.99. So, with the $10 off, plus the $5 sign-up code, the coffee maker was brought down to $64.99, around 19% off total.
I heard the recommendation from Segal, “Remember, a deal is only a deal if you need the item in the first place,” ringing in my ears as I embarked on the journey to find the best deal for these.
Are these totally necessary for my day-to-day life? No, but my millennial nostalgia kicked into overdrive when I discovered that Uggs are “cool again,” and I want to relive my glory days.
Both Cary and Segal recommended finding retailers that allow “coupon stacking,” or the practice of using multiple coupons on the same order.
According to couponing blog The Krazy Coupon Lady, stores like Kohl’s, Old Navy, Amazon, Target, and Michael’s all allow coupon stacking, with some stores allowing for unlimited coupons on a single order.
This wasn’t totally helpful for my holiday shopping spree, but I could see how coupon stacking would be an absolute game-changer when grocery shopping. I’ll be trying it the next time I go.
After trying many different expired coupon codes, I eventually found one that got me free expedited shipping.
I also used AfterPay, which allows you to break purchases up into smaller bi-weekly payments. These will be fully paid off at some point in December.
They were $160 before tax, so my installments will be something like $45 every two weeks.
But we’ll see if I make the ultimate couponing move: returning them if I spy a better deal on Cyber Monday.
Cary recommended an app called ScanLife, which allows you to scan items in-store in order to ensure you’re getting the best deal. In places that price match, like Target, this could be the ticket to saving you a good amount of cash.
He also told me that some stores have specific promotion days, when the brand magnifies values of coupons and codes. Searching social media (like Reddit and TikTok) is the best way to find out those days.
Cary also told me that engaging with brands on social media, participating in polls and surveys, and using promotional hashtags are all solid ways to get discounts.
Segal recommended all of those things, and reiterated that I should be starting early. Stores like Walmart are already advertising Black Friday deals.
He also told me that remaining organized is key. You don’t want to be fumbling with various clippings at the register, holding up an antsy line.
According to Ibotta, it takes seven days for your rewards to come in, so I’m excited to see how much money I’ve accumulated so far.
I’m already looking forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, armed with my new couponing knowledge.