The media loves to regularly point out that Americans struggle to afford an unexpected $500 bill. What many of us don’t realize is that if you’re having trouble paying for life’s surprises, you probably struggle to buy groceries and pay your rent every month too. Being able to save money on groceries is an easy and necessary step you should if you want to stop worrying about money.
There are two primary ways to improve your financial situation so you’re not part of the 43% that struggles to put food on the table every month:
- Make more money (over 100 real ways to do so)
- Spend less money each month
This is really the secret sauce to financial independence. Save the money your spend and make more money. Increase income and decrease spending. Seems simple enough, but it’s harder to do without dedication and work. Let’s focus on saving you money when you buy your food. Since we all have to eat, let’s do it while sticking to a budget!
The Easiest Way to Save Money on Groceries
There are many ways to save money on groceries with minimal effort. The current average grocery bill is approximately $384 for two adults and up to $1,279 for a family of four. Because we all have different buying habits and family sizes, your monthly grocery bill can be higher or lower than these two estimates.
If you already have a small income, groceries can easily consume half of your take-home pay. That doesn’t leave a lot of money left to pay your other monthly bills and save for the future.
Regardless of where you buy groceries, receipt scanning apps are the best way to save money in the grocery aisle. You can put the same items in your cart and pay less than before. An extra incentive to use these grocery apps is that the savings are in addition to any coupon’s or store loyalty card discounts you receive.
Although these apps might have overlapping offers, they each have exclusive offers too depending on where you shop and which brands you buy. The best suggestion is to try two or three of these apps to see which ones save you the most money.
Ibotta is the most extensive grocery app that works at most supermarkets and discount stores like Walmart and Target. Before you checkout, you can browse and activate offers or scan product barcodes to view current offers.
To receive credit, you use the Ibotta app to take a picture of your receipt, and you can match your activated offers. In addition to the upfront savings, Ibotta is continuously running monthly loyalty bonuses if you redeem multiple offers or buy specific brands. One recent example of an Ibotta cash bonus is buying at least three gluten-free products in a month to get $1 back.
Even if you buy store brands, Ibotta also offers several “Any Brand” offers to help you save money on fresh produce, milk, eggs, and other items you buy each time you visit the store.
Ibotta also offers additional cash back at multiple online stores when you make in-app purchases to save money on non-grocery purchases too.
You can request a PayPal or Venmo cash payment, or a gift card when your balance is at least $20. By redeeming your first offer, you also get a $10 cash bonus. There are plenty of offers that let you save $1 per item, so the savings opportunities are more plentiful than you might imagine.
You should also consider the SavingStar app which is arguably Ibotta’s next largest competitor. The best offers will be found on the first of each month as that’s when SavingStar adds the new monthly offers. However, new offers are also added on Sundays and Thursdays too. A Healthy Offer of the Week is also available each Tuesday.
Many SavingStar offers only require you to buy a single item to receive cash back, but some offers only issue credit when you purchase multiple items.
When your balance reaches $20, your payment possibilities include:
- Direct deposit
- PayPal cash
- Gift codes
Another common suggestion to save money on groceries is to buy a list of the items you need. Sticking to your list spares you from buying items you don’t need and aren’t on your list, especially when you’re shopping on an empty stomach!
Favado lets you build a shopping list and the app compares the lowest weekly prices to show you which store will save you the most money this week. Not only does this app save you money, but it saves you time if you comb through the weekly grocery circulars scanning their promotions.
If you’ve never tried making a grocery shopping list before, give it a try. With Favado, it can be quicker than you imagine, and you’ll save time by not browsing every grocery aisle figuring what you need.
All grocery savings are instant because you can print digital coupons to redeem at checkout. And, Favado will also tell you where to find physical coupons from newspapers and magazines.
Because Favado doesn’t offer exclusive discounts yet, you will still want to use a second grocery app like Ibotta to save additional money on each visit.
You probably don’t associate Swagbucks with being a grocery app, but you can get 10 cents back for every in-store coupon you redeem plus the coupon’s discount amount. To redeem the coupons, you will need access to a printer.
What makes Swagbucks enticing is that you can earn rewards points for a variety of online activities that you already do including online shopping, taking surveys, and web searches. Although your balance needs to be $25 to request a PayPal cash payment, you can request gift cards with a minimum $3 balance, even on Amazon gift cards.
Due to a rise in food allergies and clean eating convictions, more households are buying the following types of groceries:
Grocery stores have greatly expanded their product selection for these food items but eating healthy is still more expensive than conventional food. BerryCart is another stellar app that only provides offers for groceries that don’t have high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. You can save money regardless of if you shop at Whole Foods or Walmart because BerryCart works at over 100,000 locations across the U.S.
Amazon is the largest online retailer for two reasons, it’s convenient and has affordable prices. As an Amazon Prime member, you can save money with their Prime Pantry program that delivers groceries directly to your doorstep.
One Prime Pantry discount you should always try to monopolize on is spending at least $40 to get free shipping on Pantry orders. Amazon also runs other specials that help you get bonus cash back when buying select items and not having to clip any digital coupons.
If you shop at Whole Foods, Prime members can enjoy an additional 10% off sale items and exclusive weekly discounts. When you combine an Amazon Prime membership with BerryCart, eating healthy at Whole Foods is easy.
Just this app’s name alone can give you the energy to save more in the grocery aisles. Shopkick is another shopping app that credits you for buying certain products. You also earn rewards points just for walking into your local stores and scanning barcodes of select products to report the current retail price. It’s also possible to earn rewards points by shopping online and watching videos too.
You will earn points that can be redeemed for digital gift cards. These gift cards can help you save money on future grocery trips if you visit Walmart or Target.
Because you can’t receive cash back as a reward option, you might want to try one of the other apps first if gift cards aren’t your cup of tea. On the flipside, Shopkick is one of the few apps that lets you earn rewards points with no purchase required. Even if you don’t make a purchase, you can still earn rewards points by scanning a few product barcodes.
Your Grocery Store App
The above apps will let you save money by buying items from any store when you upload a receipt photo. The only problem is that there are more offers for name brand items instead of buying store brands like Food Club, Member’s Mark, Laura Lynn, Private Selection, etc.
With many grocery items, you can save some extra cash by buying the generic brand. Apps like Ibotta offer a 25-cent or 50-cent discount on select generic “Any Brand” purchases, but you’ll see more benefit by downloading your grocery store app. Before each trip, select any applicable digital offers and the discount will be applied at checkout when you scan your loyalty card.
If clipping coupons, even digital ones, isn’t your cup of tea, some store-specific apps only require you to scan your receipt and they will compare the competitor prices for you. The Walmart Savings Catcher app is probably the best example as you can receive cash back on pantry staples, consumable items, and health and beauty items.
How to Save Money on Groceries Without Clipping Coupons
Clipping coupons and activating digital offers to save money on food isn’t required for this next suggestion.
Because grocery apps are free to download, they can offer more discounts. Although you still need to take the time to activate digital coupons, it’s more efficient than paper coupons.
Another way to save money on every grocery purchase, whether you use an app or not, is to use a rewards credit card. If you prefer to pay with debit or don’t think you can responsibly manage credit, DebX is another free service that lets you earn cash back on every purchase while having the peace of mind that your debit card offers.
In addition to getting cash back on every purchase through grocery apps and purchase rewards, you need to keep these other tips in mind:
- Make a list before you shop
- Only buy items on your list
- Never shop hungry
- Buy store brands when it’s the cheapest option
- Use your supermarket’s store loyalty card for automatic savings
- Buy fresh ingredients and make meals from scratch instead of premade items
Buying groceries is an easy place to reduce your spending as many of us don’t pinch pennies as much as we should. Grocery apps are an effortless way to save money because you can activate offers on the go and they’re free to use. Since your phone already goes everywhere you do, saving money is effortless.
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, a good credit score can affect your ability to get a job, a place to live, and will save you money whenever you need to borrow. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get yours free at Credit Sesame. It’s 100% free with no credit card required to signup. I’ve been using it for years to monitor my credit score.