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Photo illustration of coupons used on a smartphone.
Photo illustration of coupons used on a smartphone.
Photo illustration of coupons used on a smartphone.

Published May 22, 2018.

5 ways to score digital bargains.

Remember the old days, when Groupon ‒ which uses the web to leverage group buying power to secure deals — was a novel idea?

Now thousands of digital coupons, codes, and specials are as close as the phone in your pocket or the laptop on your coffee table.

Darla Sowl, who once scored Broadway tickets using Groupon, is an expert-level shopper who never buys anything on before consulting a price checker.

"My mother raised us to be frugal, and I always want to get the best deal," says Sowl, the workforce manager in STCU's Contact Center. "Do I always get it? No, but I am always disappointed when I don't."

Here are five ways Sowl and others use digital tools to save cash:

1. Automatic price checkers.

These free browser extensions work behind the scenes to scour the internet and calculate the lowest prices, including applicable coupon codes and shipping costs. Two well-known price checker browser extensions are Honey (Sowl's favorite) and InvisibleHand. After you install them, they work on thousands of sites, including Amazon.

2. Store apps.

Download apps from stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart for app-only offers. You can find deals while you shop or catch up at checkout, and your discounts automatically show up when you pay.

3. Digital coupons.

Sites like CouponMom organize the vast number of ever-changing digital coupons and deals by manufacturer, store and location. You often can combine manufacturer and store coupons for extra savings, and sometimes you can print out and redeem duplicates. The RetailMeNot app lets you use your phone in the store to redeem savings.

“I always want to get the best deal," Sowl says.

4. Text or email deals.

Does your family eat take-out pizza? It might be worth signing up for text offers from the pizza spot down the street. Do you love perusing the shelves at the local kitchen store? Consider signing up for its email newsletter to watch for coupons. Be judicious when you share your number or email address, and unsubscribe when these messages are more hassle than helpful.

5. Budgeting apps.

Use your phone to track your spending in real time with tools like Mint or You Need a Budget. Your own credit union or bank also might have budgeting tools built into its mobile app. These apps make it easy to see where your money's really going and to set financial goals.

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