Shopping Savvy for Big Savings


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Despite falling inflation rates, many Americans are still feeling the aftershocks of post-COVID inflation, marked by consistently rising prices and shrinkflation. Among those rising prices is the cost of rent, NerdWallet reports, with monthly prices averaging 29% above pre-pandemic rates. Considering housing is the largest expense among Americans, it is not surprise many are seeking ways to save in other areas of their lives, from opening high-interest savings accounts to taking advantage of employer-sponsored pre-tax benefits. As finances are reorganized, however, be sure not to overlook the smaller ways to save on day-to-day expenses as, oftentimes, those small measures can add up. 

Unsubscribe. There is no greater enemy to a household budget than the impulse purchase, something companies are making more accessible every day. Everyone loves a good sale, but it is important to avoid attending a sale for things you do not need. Consider unsubscribing to emails and text messages from stores that are shopped infrequently (novelty, fashion, luxury) and especially from online vendors. On the matter of unsubscribing, when was the last time you reviewed your monthly service subscriptions?  

Coupon-clipping for the win. In the digital age, where reading the news more often consists of scrolling on a phone than actually unfolding a newspaper, the idea of coupon clipping may seem like a thing of the past. In truth, the coupon club is alive and well, and membership is free. Manufacturer and store coupons can still be found anywhere and everywhere. As household budgets constrict, now is a great time to adopt this money-saving practice. Here are some tips from the Crazy Coupon Lady to get started:  

  • Download store apps. Kroger, Target, Speedway, Meijer and other popular stores offer both loyalty rewards programs as well as both manufacturer and store coupons accessible through their free shopping apps.  

  • Subscribe to grocery rebate apps. Another free, easy to start saving money on groceries is to download cash-back apps such as Ibotta, Checkout51, Retch Rewards and Shopkick (offers gift cards instead of cash, but still a free resource). 

  • Search for printable coupons on the Internet.  

  • Look for coupons attached to products in-store.  

  • Scout your local newspapers to snatch their coupons. 

  • Pay attention to your receipts, especially from places like Walgreens and CVS, which tend to print coupons directly to the receipt or alongside it.  

  • Make sure junk mail is actually junk before you disregard it. Department stores send out monthly coupons to frequent shoppers, so avoid throwing away money by at least flipping through the ads that come in the mail.  

Swap unwanted gift cards for cash or better gift cards. For the uninitiated, gift cards are an economy of cash flow all their own, whether unused or unwanted. When cash seems too impersonal but choosing a particular item is impossible, gift cards are the go-to gifting alternative. Unfortunately, not every gift card is a slam dunk, and many are left abandoned in kitchen junk drawers across the nation, sometimes for years. According to CNBC, some 47% of Americans have at least one unused gift card, with an average unused amount of $175 per person. Enter websites like Raise and CardCash, as well as brick and mortar stores like Gamestop, where unwanted giftcards can be traded or sold for a percentage of their value, in some cases up to 92%. On the flipside, stores like Costco sell bundled gift card deals, such as two $50 cards for $79.99, Forbes reports. Savvy shoppers can save money on their grocery bill by purchasing the store card before snagging $100 worth of groceries for $80. Imagine the boost to household buying power when coupling this strategy with coupon-clipping.   

Thrift. The thrift shop is more than a Grammy-winning song by Macklemore. Deals on everything from household appliances to clothing can be found at local thrift shops like Goodwill, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent DePaul. Moreover, second-hand shopping is good for the environment, ensuring name brand, trendy, high-quality clothes do not contribute to the more than 92 million tons of textile waste created by the fashion industry every year.  

Why buy full price when you can shop clearance? Be it Target, Meijer or somewhere else, mark downs are everywhere. From clothing to nonperishables, clearance sales are king when budgets are thin. Ways to maximize clearance savings include looking for notices that offer an additional percentage of markdowns and clearance, coupons that offer an additional percentage off entire store purchases, including clearance and sale items (always read the fine print), coupons and perks found on those aforementioned store apps and, if shopping online, codes for additional savings or click for cash back options, such as those found on the Walmart plus app.  

Timing is everything, according to Nasdaq, as the prices of gas, groceries and even electronics are cheaper on specific days of the week due to demand, expiration dates and inventory shifts. Shopping for groceries on Wednesday, for example, could land mid-week specials and reduced prices as sell-by dates approach. Waiting to buy gas until Monday or Tuesday will also save money, as demand for fuel peaks throughout the weekend, driving per gallon prices higher.  

Do you have go-to shopping hack to share? Tell @MICPA on Facebook, LinkedIn and X and help spread the savings! 


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