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Couponing Secrets You Can Unlock with Your Phone

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 3/28/2019 Christine Rukavena
a close up of text on a white background: receipt© Provided by Trusted Media Brands, Inc. receipt

I was astounded recently when my niece Melissa—an 18-year-old accounting student—dropped over at my parents’ house with a laundry basket brimming not with dirty laundry, but with containers of laundry detergent, breakfast cereals, crackers, cleaning products, lotions, and dozens of household staples. It was the product of Melissa’s favorite new pastime—extreme couponing with her smartphone. Psst! These are some secret grocery shopping tips you need to know.

The total cost of this haul? Well under $10, Melissa said. I’ve always loved saving money at the grocery store, so I couldn’t wait to learn how she was saving so much with mobile coupons. Here are Melissa’s favorite ways to save big with her smartphone (and how you can, do it, too)!

1. Get your favorite store’s app and sign up for text alerts.

a plastic bag full of food: couponing© Provided by Trusted Media Brands, Inc. couponing

Dollar General (DG) is a favorite app in our family. You can browse the sales flyer, clip digital coupons to scan at the register, and get alerts when items go on sale. Not familiar with the brand? Here are more reasons why you should definitely try Dollar General.

2. Join other savings-minded folks.

Find couponing groups by store, geographic area or product interest on social media and ask to join. Follow the feeds and discover coupon match-ups and special savings for the week.

3. Embrace the #.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by Trusted Media Brands, Inc.

Search terms such as #DollarGeneral, #PennyShopping, and #DGPennyShopping to find everything from blog sites to Pinterest boards and users’ Instagram hauls. In time, you’ll get a feel for the sites that are most helpful for you. Check out these other grocery shopping apps, too.

4. Consider buying the Penny Finder app.

This haul means pearly whites for a long, long time—for Melissa and all her friends—for just 16 cents. Penny Finder helps you find items that cost a penny at DG, and even lets you scan the item to ensure it’ll ring up for a penny when you get to the register. The app’s $1.99 price is worthwhile, she said.

5. Do good with your mobile coupons.

Woman looking out the window holding mobile phone© Carlina Teteris/Getty Images Woman looking out the window holding mobile phone

Couponing is a lot about the thrill of the hunt, my niece said, but it’s also about being able to do good with what you get. For instance, she and her mom cleaned up on diapers and plan to give them to a friend who’s expecting a baby. Other items are destined for shelters and food pantries, which always need household and toiletry staples. You can read more about ethical couponing here.

6. Play by the rules.

Part of doing good with your wins is ethical couponing, Melissa told me, such as not “glittering.” (It’s a fanciful term for exploiting coupon glitches and is actually a type of fraud.) It also means being courteous to the store personnel, even if the great deal you had planned doesn’t quite work out. Follow the rules and have fun, and brush up on these 40 smart ways to save at the supermarket.

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