Smart Shopping with Your Smart Phone: Digital Couponing Helps You Save and Track Spending

Digital couponing - shopping smart with your smart phone

Thanks to a growing number of digital couponing apps you can download onto your smart phone, gone are the days of flipping through newspaper inserts, scissors in-hand, just to save a buck or 2 on toothpaste. Now that going everywhere with our phones is a part of life, coupon savings are now just a swipe away.

Digital Couponing Tip #1: Ditch the clipping

Apps like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com (for iPhone users with the Passport app) allow you to download coupons onto your phone and simply show your screen to the cashier. Even better, some apps, including RetailMeNot, have location services that will alert you to nearby restaurants and stores offering deals.

Digital Couponing Tip #2: Stack your savings

When it comes to shopping for everyday items, your best bet is to look for apps that you can sync with store loyalty cards. That way you can take advantage of store deals on top of any savings the app is offering up.

Coupons.com, for example, partners with grocery stores like Pick ‘n Save and Copps so you can download coupons directly onto your loyalty card to be applied when checking out. The app Saving Star, which sends you refunds and rebate deals, partners with dozens of stores (including Copps, CVS and Walmart). When you connect those stores’ loyalty cards to the app, you don’t have to scan and send in receipts to receive the deals.

Digital Couponing Tip #3: Get personal

As the apps become familiar with your preferences they begin to customize their offerings, alerting you to deals on your preferred brands. Considering that couponing once entailed having to search through pages of inserts in search of the things that interested you, that’s not a bad exchange for the general insights into consumer behaviors your app use is providing them.

Digital Couponing Tip #4: Build in your budget

Another benefit unique to using your smart phone for in-store deals is the impact it can have on your larger budgeting goals. For example, the Wisconsin-based app Shop Fetch offers two features that actually help you track your grocery spending, giving you insight into and control over your monthly budget.

First, because you’re scanning each item with your phone as you place it in your cart, Shop Fetch provides you with an itemized running total of your purchases. It’s not unlike the bill you see when shopping online.

“We’ve gotten really positive feedback from consumers on this,” says Peter Dermody, marketing manager for the app. “Consumers will walk in and say “I only want to spend $60. With Shop Fetch you can look through and see what you’re getting and say ‘Wow how did I get to $50?’” The app will show you what’s so expensive so you can trim your selections before you find yourself in the check out line.

Second, because you can pull up all your past transactions and see what you’ve saved and from what sources, the app doesn’t just help you lower your bill in the store, but also can help you track and maintain your monthly budget.

Digital Couponing Tip #5: Get the gloat factor

Whether you use digital coupons or are sticking with your scissors, perhaps the real reward to couponing is in the thrill of the hunt. When you’ve done due diligence on getting the best possible price for that tube of toothpaste, why not give yourself a little positive reinforcement?