The Billfold
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The Billfold

Should I Be Putting More Effort Into Finding Coupons?

Are there dollars’ worth of savings I might be missing?

Photo credit: Hobbies on a Budget, CC BY 2.0.

I was talking with my mom this weekend about the whole “I’m trying to save money on toiletries” thing, and she suggested I look into coupons.

“I have the Safeway app,” I said. I’m not sure if the discounts Safeway offers are technically coupons, because they’re the kind of discounts that are pasted over the original price tag, but the app lets me know when those discounts are available.

“No, I mean manufacturer coupons,” Mom said. Which can, of course, be combined with the discounts Safeway offers.

So… let’s see if I can find some manufacturer coupons for a few products I buy regularly.

I’m going to need a new bottle of Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash before the end of the month, so I started by dropping “Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash coupon” into Google. Here are the first few search results:

It looks like these links are going to take me to places that sell Aveeno and also offer coupons, but aren’t necessarily going to be offering an Aveeno coupon right now—and that’s the case for the two Amazon links, but the Walgreens link includes a coupon for $3.00 off. (Which is good, because there’s a Walgreens right next to my local Safeway.)

Of course, I have to make a Walgreens account to “clip” the coupon, so I did, except then they said I already had an account associated with that email, so… fine, whatever, I went through the account retrieval steps, logged in, and tried to clip my coupon.

Okay, Walgreens, I’ll link my Balance Rewards to the account that I forgot I created. Can I clip the coupon yet?

Yes! Now I need to figure out how to redeem this coupon in-store, because Walgreens won’t do free shipping on a single bottle of Aveeno body wash unless I choose “ship to store,” which… if I’m going to the store anyway, might as well just buy it there.

(Walgreens also offers free shipping on online orders over $35, so at some point I could do the thing where I search Walgreens for all the toiletries I might need in the next six months, put all the ones that have coupons into my cart, and get free shipping on my order. But right now I’m still at Level 1: How to Clip a Coupon.)

I bet I’ll need to download the Walgreens app before I can redeem this coupon in-store, so that’s my next step. While it downloads, I remind myself that this coupon still isn’t a manufacturer coupon, it’s a Walgreens coupon designed to get me in the store and pull some data out of me in exchange for a few bucks off a bottle of liquid soap. I go back to my search results and find nothing that looks like a manufacturer coupon. I search “Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash manufacturer coupon” and end up on Coupon Sherpa, which links me to the Walgreens coupon and helpfully informs me that I’ve already clipped it. (THANKS, CREEPY INTERNET.)

And yes, when I log into the Walgreens app, there is my $3.00 coupon, ready to be used in-store. There are also dozens of additional coupons that I can scroll and clip at my leisure.

Which means that even though I didn’t find a manufacturer coupon for Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash, this is still a win.

But I’m still not sure if I’m missing out on a bunch of manufacturer coupons, so I searched “manufacturer coupons” and got links to coupon aggregation sites, all of which have apps that I could download and activate. My guess is that many of these apps will connect me to store coupons, the same way that Coupon Sherpa connected me to Walgreens, but there might be a few coupons out there that I’ll miss if I just use Walgreens and Safeway for my discounts.

Do you have a favorite coupon app? Or do you just stick to the stores you regularly visit?

Also: how leveled-up are you in terms of coupon hunting? Is it “I’ll scan for coupons before I go to the store,” or “I’ll plan six months of shopping in advance, use my Walgreens coupons, and get free shipping?”

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Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker

Freelance writer at Vox, Bankrate, Haven Life, & more. Author of The Biographies of Ordinary People.