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Want to slash your grocery tab? Saving money on groceries is easier than collecting binders of coupons and buying 455 rolls of toilet paper.
We’ve compiled a list of simple (and some unexpected) tips to help you maximize your grocery budget.
1. You Don’t Make a List
This is grocery shopping 101, y’all. Did you seriously think you could walk into Piggly Wiggly unchecked and somehow waltz back to the car with only the necessities?
You know that fancy olive bar lures you in you every time. You know that Sunday dinner you’re planning requires an oddly measured ingredient whose name you’ll probably forget.
Stop trusting yourself to make good decisions on the fly!
Making a list cuts down on the time you’ll spend crisscrossing the store trying to remember everything you need. Making a list also helps you stick to a budget, especially when you think ahead to deal-stack coupons and rebates.
If you’re not making a grocery list — I don’t care if it’s on the fanciest notepad in the world or on the back of an old envelope — you’re not doing yourself any favors.
2. You Don’t Turn Those Crumpled Grocery Receipts Into Free Gift Cards
What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.
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 this. 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 towards your first gift card.
When your budget is at its limit, these cards can go a long way on your next grocery run. Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?
3. You Don’t Get Take This Free $225 With You
If we told you that before you head to the grocery store, you could get paid to watch cooking videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.
It’s 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 chef teach you the recipe for 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 onto you.
It’s possible to earn up to $225 per 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 to get you started.
4. You Don’t Share The Contents of Your Fridge With Nielsen
Want to get rewarded for showing off your grocery haul? Nielsen will do that for you.
You’re probably familiar with Nielsen. It’s the company that tracks TV ratings. Now, it wants to track what’s in your fridge.
Join the Nielsen Consumer Panel, then use your smartphone to scan your items’ barcodes after your next grocery run.When the data is sent off to Nielsen, you’ll earn points, which you can use to redeem for free electronics, household items or toys.
5. You Don’t Earn up to $20/Hour Picking up Milk For Your Neighbors
You’ve probably heard you can make money picking up other people’s groceries. But doing your own shopping is stressful enough. You just learned where everything is — now you’re supposed to learn the aisles of a different store?
But an app called Postmates will pay you to pick up a few extra groceries while you’re already picking up your own.
The amount you can earn varies, but the median earnings per hour during peak times is $19, CEO Bastian Lehmann said at a 2015 TechCrunch event.
We talked to one shopper, Destiny Frith, from Nashville, who says the flexibility and high hourly pay makes this a great way to make extra money.
She takes home close to $600 a week — working completely on her own schedule.
Actual amount earned will vary, depending on a number of factors. You’ll see how much you earned after each delivery and exactly how your earnings were calculated.
6. You Don’t Check the Unit Price
Bigger is always better, right? Maybe, but it’s not always cheaper.
Don’t blindly choose the largest can of coffee or bottle of detergent just because someone taught you once that buying in bulk will help you save.
Do a unit-price comparison. The unit price is often located on the price tag affixed to the shelf below the product, with phrasing like “$0.59 per ounce.”
If the unit price isn’t listed, divide the price of the item by the number of ounces or other unit of measurement. You might find that the smaller item is a better buy, especially if the product is on sale.
7. You Don’t Use This Credit Card
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
The card also offers 5% cash-back on select rotating categories. For example, in one quarter, you can earn 5% cash back on gas. The next quarter? Groceries. The categories continue to rotate throughout the year.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.
*The information for the Chase Freedom 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.
8. You Don’t Use This Free $20 at The Grocery Store
Did you know that Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts?
Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.
Bam. Cash back.
Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming your first 10 offers within 14 days.
9. Get Paid for Walking Into the Store
Sometimes, to get the most out of your Walmart bargain-shopping trip, all you need to do is walk in the door. That’s right — no purchase necessary.
The Shopkick app pays you in “kicks” for walking into Walmart and other participating stores (including Target, TJMaxx and more). You can redeem kicks for gift cards to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora and Best Buy.
It pays you even more kicks for photos of your receipts that include qualifying items you purchased in store with a connected credit or debit card. You can also earn kicks for online purchases.