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It might seem like the only real way to save money on groceries is to clip binders full of coupons and buy bulk packs of toilet paper.
But the truth is it doesn’t have to be that labor-intensive. Try these simple (and some unexpected) tips to help you save $100 or more on groceries this month.
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1. Keep a Calculator in Your Purse
How many times have you been shocked when the cashier tells you the grocery total? Yeah, you’re not alone.
When grocery shopping, it’s easy to get carried away. You’ve probably heard it’s a good idea to shop with a grocery list in hand, but you should also shop with a calculator, too.
Set a spending limit for yourself before you step foot in the store, then, as you walk through the aisles, add up the price of each item you toss in the cart. This will keep you on track, and you won’t face sticker-shock at checkout.
2. Turn Your Useless Receipts Into Free Prepaid Visa Cards
When you think about it, what’s the point of your grocery receipt? You check out, the cashier hands you a mile-long piece of paper, and you stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag, never to be seen again.
But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn your receipts into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for prepaid cards for Visa and MasterCard.
And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into saving money. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to get a bonus toward your first gift card. Then, next time you’re checking out, use these gift cards to help offset your grocery expenses for the week!
3. Get an Extra $225 a Month to Use Toward Groceries
What if, before you head to the grocery store, you could get paid to watch cooking videos on your computer?
Sounds too good to be true, right?
But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch a pastry chef teach you how to make fudge brownies, and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut on to you.
It’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos — that could make a serious dent in your grocery bill.
Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards! — and it’s already paid its users more than $56 million.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus when you get started.
4. Go Grocery Shopping in Your Pantry
When it comes to grocery shopping, it’s easy to just assume you need all the same stuff you bought last week. But the truth is, you probably have a lot of it hanging out in the depths of your pantry or fridge.
So before you head to the grocery store, go shopping in your own pantry! Take inventory of what’s already in stock, then build your weekly meals around those items. This will not only help reduce your weekly grocery bill, but also cut your waste.
5. Get a Box of Free Samples Each Month
Who doesn’t love a box of random samples? Especially if they’re good samples — samples from big brands like Olay, Tide, Purina and V8.
Well, you can get these straight to your door each month through PINCHme. All you have to do is share your feedback about the products you’ve tried.
When we registered, we found out we could choose from samples of ZzzQuil Sleep-Aid, Purina One Tender Selects cat food, Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Dressing, and a V8 Veggie Blend Juice and +Energy two pack. (These were full-size samples.)
But you won’t see the same stuff twice, because the samples change each month, and options vary based on your profile and location. And this is legitimately free. It doesn’t even require a credit card to sign up.
Once you fill out your profile, PINCHme presents you with relevant samples it has available.
Then next month, just rinse and repeat.
6. Get a Free Sam’s Club Membership
You’ve probably heard shopping in bulk is an easy way to save money on groceries, but who wants to fork over an annual membership fee just to step into a warehouse club?
Good news: You don’t have to.
Sam’s Club is running a special right now. When you join for $45, you’ll get an instant $50 in savings. So basically, Sam’s Club is giving you a free $5 just to join.
Here’s what you need to do: Enter your email on this page, and you’ll get a special promo code delivered to your inbox. You can then join Sam’s Club online or in store — just be sure to flash that promo code.
Once you sign up, you’ll get a free $20 gift card, which you can use on whatever you want.
You’ll also get $30 in instant savings good for items like Member’s Mark prepared entrées (hello, dinner!). These savings are loaded onto your membership card and are good for 30 days.
Even after you’ve used the gift card and savings, you’ll continue to save money by shopping in bulk. Plus, it takes no time to get signed up.
7. Don’t Miss Out On a Free $150 by Using the Wrong Credit Card
It might sound too good to be true, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card will give you a $150 bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months of signing up. That basically means you’d just need to use the card to buy groceries.
Plus, it’s probably better than any other credit card in your purse or wallet. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, all the time, so you don’t have to keep track of revolving categories or anything like that.
And unlike a lot of competing rewards cards, there’s no annual fee.
Applying for the card online takes no more than about two minutes. Then you could be well on your way to that free $150.
Just remember to spend responsibly and pay your balance off each month!
8. Save Your Energy and Go Grocery Shopping Online
Some people find the grocery store relaxing, but if you have a massive shopping list (or kids), it can easily become overwhelming. Next thing you know, you’re lugging out hundreds of pounds of groceries — or at least that’s what it feels like.
Make life easier for yourself (and your arms) by buying your pantry and dry goods online — and earn cash bonuses along the way.
A free website called Rakuten has connections with more than 2,500 stores, which means it can give you a cash kickback when you shop at one. When we checked, we found cash-back deals at Amazon, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Boxed and Walmart.
It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account. All you need is an email address. Plus, if you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10.
Now you don’t have to worry about fitting that 36-pack of toilet paper in your trunk or hauling a box of cat litter across the store. Just have someone deliver it to your door and earn cash back along the way!
9. Remember: Store Brands Aren’t Always Cheaper
We’ve been trained to think store brands — or “generic” brands — are always cheaper. And a lot of times they are… if you’re solely considering the shelf price.
However, many times the store brand doesn’t qualify for coupons, members-only discounts or rebates through cash-back apps. So before you make the snap decision to purchase a store-brand product, consider all your options.
*The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.