Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to save 2% or more on your grocery bill without cutting coupons

Eating healthy can get expensive, but finding coupons for healthy food can be a challenge. Sure you can find some healthy stuff on Checkout 51 and iBotta, but it's rare. Plus, you'll never save 2% on your grocery bill doing that. Oh and you can still use those and do this trick and increase your savings even more! So how do you save at least 2% on your grocery bill without cutting coupons? I promise to tell you, but only if you promise to keep reading this post even after you read the next sentence!

Simple.......You get a credit card with rewards! I know there are a lot of people who are anti-credit card, but the main reason to be anti-credit card is because you're anti-debt. You can have a credit card and not be in debt. You just need to pay it off every month. I was scared to even try this, but we did it over a year ago and it's working out amazing.

There are so many credit cards out there with rewards and you're totally missing out on the potential savings if you don't jump on the rewards bandwagon. We have several different ones, and I'll explain which ones and what we do with them later in the post.

Okay so here's how this works. You pick the card that will work best for you, In our case, there are several cards, but you can do this with just one card and you can these cards with less than perfect credit. You can even get some of them if you've had a bankruptcy, so keep reading even if you think you can't get approved.

Instead of buying your groceries with your debit card, cash or a check, you use your credit card. Then you make sure you pay it off each month. The method you use for that is up to you. I've got a few options to share......

  1. You automatically pay the card right after you buy your groceries (or at the end of the day you pay everything you bought that day). This is the "safest way" to handle it because the money is coming out of your checking account faster.
  2. Every pay day, you pay off the balance. This works well too because you're paying it often, so you're less likely to forget.
  3. You pay the balance on the statement when you get it. You have got to pay the entire statement balance by the due date or you'll pay interest which will wipe out any and all earnings you've gotten from your rewards. You do not want to let that happen. There are sooooo many options for email and text alerts that it's nearly impossible to forget to pay it. The problem you may run into is that you didn't set aside the money to pay the balance. If you pick this method, you really have got to watch the apps for your credit cards and make sure you always know what you balance is and when the due date is. Just remember........You don't have to pay off the current balance of the card, but you do have to pay off the statement balance or this will not be a good plan for you. 

You don't have to limit this to just groceries though. There are cards that give bonus rewards to gas, restaurants and utilities to name a few. Just make sure you do your research and find the best cards for you. Below is a list of the cards that we use.

  1. Chase Freedom - This was my first rewards card. At the time I got it, there was a sign up bonus. I earned an extra $100 by spending $500 in the first three months. That was on top of the rewards that I earned for my every day purchases. The cool thing about Chase Freedom, is that they have these quarterly categories where you earn 5% for every dollar that you spend in certain categories. For example, Grocery stores are the 5% category for April to June of 2016. They usually have gas as a bonus category once a year. This is a great card for the bonus categories, but it's not an ideal card if you only want to have one card. I say that because if it's not a bonus category, you only earn 1%. So for 9 months out of the year, I would only earn 1% on my groceries and gas. I still think this is an amazing card to have, but I don't suggest it as your only rewards card. It also came with zero % APR for 15 billing cycles. If you're using my methods of paying the card off every month, this might not be a big deal, but if you want to buy something and pay it off over 15 billing cycles, this would be good. If you get this card, you can refer your friends and earn $50. Your friends get $150 sign up bonus and you get $50. If you want a referral code, leave me a comment at the bottom, and I'll get you one. (One thing to note.....Walmart and Target do not count as grocery stores during the 5% grocery category.) 
  2. Discover It - This was my second rewards card. This one is like the Chase Freedom card. It has 1% cash back on your purchases and then there are quarterly categories where you can earn 5%. This one also came with 15 billing cycles at 0% APR. This one doesn't have a sign up bonus though. This is my least used card because it tends to overlap categories with Chase Freedom. Last quarter was gas and so was Chase Freedom. However, this quarter is restaurants which doesn't overlap with Chase Freedom, so I'll be earning some rewards this quarter! Woot Woot. At the time I wrote this post, Discover It is running a promotion where they'll match all of your cash back for the first year. That could be huge. I also just learned that they now have two other Discover It cards. One is a gas and restaurants card where you earn 2% back on all gas and restaurant purchases and you still get the 1% on everything else. They also have an NHL card which works just like the regular Discover It card with the 5% quarterly categories and the 1% on everything else, plus you get 10% off on NHL gear. (One thing to note.....Walmart and Target do not count as grocery stores during the 5% grocery category.)
  3. Barclay Rewards - This was my husband's first rewards card. (I think). This one has 2% back on gas, groceries and utilities. Walmart does count as a grocery store for the 2% cash back on the Barclay Rewards card. Hulu also counts as a utility, but Netflix does not. It's all about how their merchant category is set up with their credit cards. We use this card for pretty much everything that's not in a Discover It or Chase Freedmon 5% quarterly category. 
We have other cards including Capital One QuickSilver, Capital One Venture One and Citi Simplicity, but they don't see much action these days. The Capital One cards were nice because we got 0% APR for a year and it helped us buy some things that we needed, but QuickSilver is 1.5% all the time with no rotating categories and the Venture One cards are 1.25% all the time with no rotating categories. There is a Citi card that pays you 1% when you spend the money and 1% when you pay the money back, but we don't have that Citi card. The Citi Simplicity card that I got was just to get the 21 billing cycles with 0% APR. There are some nice American Express rewards and there's a Wells Fargo card that I would have gotten instead of the Discover It card had I done my research. You get 5% back in several categories for the first six months. After the six months is up though, the card isn't really all that great any longer. 

Okay, so bottom line is that everyone should get a rewards card and use it like a debit card. You need to pay off the statement balance in order to avoid getting hit with interest charges that will negate the rewards. They don't actually take your rewards away, but if you're paying interest, it will be more than what you've earned on the card, so pay the statement balance off by the due date without fail! 

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