Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Ideas and Suggestions for Caring For Your Guinea Pigs in An Emergency

Emergencies happen, but they are often easier if you are prepared.  Here are a few situations you might encounter and how to handle them.

Family Emergency:   Have someone on hand you can take your guinea pig(s) to at pretty much a moment's notice.  You can offer to do the same for their pets.  Before this is needed, go over your guinea pig's favorite foods, what they can have and can't eat. It might be a good idea to make a folder for each guinea pig you have with all kinds of information in it ready in case you have to hand them off quickly.  That way just a quick phone call and dropping off your furry friend is all that is needed.  When my mother was being admitted to cardiac intensive care, I had 15 minutes to pack and get ready for staying in the hospital for 8 days.  I left a house key in a safe location and called a friend on my way to the hospital.  (I was not driving.)

FTC disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What happens if you misplace an item you sold on eBay?

FTC disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I've been selling on eBay for over 23 years.  I try to be very careful, but unfortunately I am human and I make mistakes.  Like the time I accidentally swapped mailing labels and sent the wrong ugly Christmas sweaters to the wrong people.  It was nerve-racking, but thankfully it all turned out okay because the one family got their toddler sized sweater still in time for their holiday photo shoot and I was the only seller online that year that had a dinosaur themed Christmas sweater.

As I write this, my husband is searching for some curtain clips.  We have a great eBay storage set up (which I will talk about in the future.). But for now, I want to talk about what to do and what happens when you can't mail out an item.

I have a large amount of items on eBay.  I try to provide spectacular service, but sometimes it's just not possible.  I might misplace an item, or as happened in July, something broke as it was being packed. 

eBay allows you to have a transaction defect rate of .5% -- that's 1/2 of a percent and still remain "above standard".  For me that's two defects in a year based on my sales for the last 12 months (which I am hoping to increase this next year.)

When you lose an item, it's best to message the buyer and be honest about what happened.  Usually buyers are more understanding than you would think.  But they still could leave you a negative.  However, I will say in 23 years I have received a handful of negatives, but never one when I deserved it.  I've gotten one because someone said my "free shipping" rates were too expensive.  (Huh?), another because I wouldn't accept a check from a foreign country, things like that.

Once you contact the buyer, go into "My eBay" and go to items awaiting shipment.  Beside of the "print shipping label" there is a pull down menu, and from there select "cancel order".  Then on the next page click 'item out of stock'.   This will refund them as well as refund your fees to your account.

This won't prevent you from any repercussions.  You will get a defect on eBay, but provided it's not a normal occurrence and you sell enough, you should be fine.  Otherwise, I would suggest you list a lot of items to get your sales rate higher so it won't affect you much.  I am not sure when everyone's new evaluation day is, they may all be the same or be seller specific.  Mine is on the 20th of the month, and that's when I can see what my current percentage of defect rate is, etc.  

You can still get a negative from the buyer, but I have found that most people are understanding if you explain what happened.  It's obviously annoying to buy something and then have your order cancelled, so work to not make a practice of it.  It's been well over a year since I lost something until this
week.  That time there were two similar items that sold a few months before then.  I shipped the wrong one and the customer never told me.  My current defect is from a Christmas ornament that my husband squeezed too hard thinking it was metal but it was actually plastic and the spoon on the ornament snapped in two!  

But with over 2,000 items listed, I know that things happen.  I hope I don't get a negative, but it's always a possibility.  

I will also likely send the buyer a coupon to use in my eBay store that is specific to them, maybe something like $10 so they could get a totally free item and feel better about the whole situation.

As for me, I'm disappointed.  I like to provide amazing customer service, and losing an item not only means I don't get the money from the sale, but I feel it reflects poorly on me.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Making Credit Cards Work for YOU! Credit Card Hacking Basics

 FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

One of the things I disagree with Dave Ramsey on is credit cards.  He says in The Total Money Makeover that no one ever got rich on credit card rewards, and while that's true, I have had my life enriched by those points and I want to explain the basics of credit card hacking.  If you can't pay of your cards in full each month, stop reading now.  If you do pay off your cards, please proceed.

A few years ago I read a book about maximizing credit card rewards, which is unfortunately now out of print.  One of my takeaways was not to be afraid of an annual fee if you are a heavy credit card user.  I have sold on eBay full time since 1998.  I purchase the things for resell, packing materials,  purchase postage, etc. Until the last couple years eBay charged fees to a credit card, now they take them out of your account before sending you your payout.  So you can see how this could add up to a large amount of spending that would all be deductible on my taxes.

My first credit card with a fee was for a hotel chain I love.  When my mother got sick in 2013, I was able to stay eight days at a hotel near the cardiac intensive care unit without it costing me anything.  I had hoped to take an amazing vacation, but being able to be with her during that time was more important than any vacation to Hawaii, and I don't regret using those points -- I am so thankful I had them to use.

I have collected a whole wallet full of credit cards.  Because different cards will rotate where you get the most points, at the beginning of every quarter (January, April, July, October) I get them out, look at what the bonus categories are for the next three months, and change around which card should be used for what purpose.  I have enough cards (and a husband with a bad memory) that I make things easy by taking a small piece of paper and taping to each card what spending to put on that card.  For instance, I have one for "everyday spending" which is the one that gives me the best rewards.  But, usually one card will have a 5% bonus for gas stations.  Sometimes that is for only at the pump, so I have a "gas station -- inside" designated card.  As I write this, I have designated cards for pharmacies, filling up the car with gas, buying something inside a convenience store, restaurants, travel (sometimes even things like parking and toll roads can count!), Target, Amazon, streaming services (which of course, I can just change that online until the next three months and don't have to have that marked on a card).  This trick of being able to keep track of what card I should use when really helps me not make mistakes and put a 5% reward on a card that only is giving 1% that month. 

I knew last fall I would be making a large purchase (a new MacBook Pro) around Black Friday.  Because I knew this, I went shopping around for the best credit card rewards for me.  (This can vary from person to person.  Some people may want to focus on travel, some on cash back, some on investments -- yes, using your credit card can help you plan for retirement if used correctly!)  Because 2020 and 2021 were such bad years for the economy with so little travel and so much shut down, the rewards were great.  Between my husband and I, we opened three new cards in less than two years, which is unheard of for us.  Also, Chase has a 5/24 rule -- meaning they don't give rewards to you if you have taken out five credit cards in the last 24 months.  So I keep my opening new accounts to a minimum. But the sign up bonuses were amazingly good, and making an almost $2,000 purchase, it was well worth it to find a card to use and get a sign up bonus.

Of course, to do this, you need a good FICO score.  This is often free to check online at your bank's site or on a credit card site.  One thing to keep in mind, cancelling a credit card will often cause your credit score to fall.  So unless you are paying a fee, it's worth it to keep any cards you currently have and use it for a small purchase every 6 months or so.  If you are paying a fee, it may be worth it to close that account if you aren't earning great rewards.  I would love to move in the next few years so I am trying to increase my credit score, so I am not opening any more credit cards and asking for limit increases on the ones I have.  

The higher your credit score the more options you will have available to you as to what cards you will be able to get.  But even with a lower credit score you can earn rewards, just not maybe the same ones that someone with a metal card would be able to earn.  (These are nearly the top of the line cards and yes, they can really be made of metal.) 

In years past, people learned they could order one dollar coins from the U.S. Mint with no shipping fees, put it on their credit card, take the coins to the bank.  The U.S. Mint was wanting people to go out and spend these $1 coins to try and get them to catch on.  What actually caught on was the Mint to the fact that people were buying coins, depositing them, and earning credit card rewards like crazy.  So the Mint put a stop to that.  

Each card is different.  Some allow points for pre-paid Visas purchased at a store to earn points, others don't.  You will need to check with what your card allows and doesn't.

I will be detailing different cards in future posts and telling what I think of them, the pros and cons.  But until then, here are a few things I've been able to do, purchase, and destinations I have visited thanks to using credit cards to my advantage.

  • A two week cross country road trip, and all hotel stays were paid for except for one night.  We even stayed in a $300 a night resort in Sedona.
  • An eight day hotel stay in Pittsburgh when my mother was in CICU.
  • A flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • A flight to Nashville, Tennessee.
  • A flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • A flight to New York City.
  • $200 of Christmas gifts
  • A Silhouette Cameo Machine
  • $1,000 put on my credit card for grocery purchases when my husband was out of work for Covid
  • An air fryer both for us and one for my inlaws as a gift.
  • A trip to New Mexico for two with all nights paid for in hotel, plus airport lounge access and rental car.
  • Lots of other small rewards.

Like I said, none of this made me rich, but it sure has enriched my life.  I currently have enough credit card points to stay at a hotel that is hosting a convention this summer that I want to attend, and I have up to 9 nights at other hotels just ready for me to use when I want to travel!  

Check out my other posts about what I think about different credit cards, their rewards, pros and cons:

  • Discover (This is my choice for someone with poor credit, or if you don't want to pay an annual fee)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

What is Receipt Hog? Is it worth signing up?

FTC disclaimer:  This post includes affiliate links. 

Years ago, I joined as many app based savings and earnings communities as I could.  Some have faded away (such as Checkout 51), but others have stayed around and have become my favorites.  One I have on my phone that I don't often talk about is Receipt Hog.

So what is it?  You take photos of your shopping receipts.  you earn coins you can spend.  Why do I not talk about it that often?  I have never won one of the 'daily shopping sprees" and have earned under $20 in Amazon gift cards.  When you snap a receipt you earn coins or spins on a slot machine.  On the slot machine you can win coins (I often win 2-5 coins), cash, or the purchase price of  your receipt back.  Also, you get entered into a sweepstakes that happens on the first of the next month.

I've not earned a lot with this one.  Is it worth it?  Well, I still snap my receipts when I have a shorter one.  When it's massively long, I don't bother.  I have been using it long enough I get a decent amount of bonus coins to make one snap a shorter receipt once a week worth it.  (You level up by submitting receipts each week.) 

Is it one I would join again?  Probably not.  Will I keep doing it.  Yes.  I know this sounds like opposing viewpoints in one, but it doesn't take much to use it each week, but the rewards just aren't easily obtained.

If you want to join, you can find it in the App Store or on Google Play.  If you use referral code stroh862 you will get five bonus spins when you sign up.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Where are the best places to find items to sell on eBay?

 I've been selling on eBay for over twenty years now.  I often get asked "Where do you find your items?"  So I'm going to be talking about places you can get items to sell on eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, and Mecari.  These are in no particular order.

1. Your Home

Most people have clothes they no longer wear, books they have read, games that no longer get played.  When first starting out, this is what I recommend because you will have listing limits, and it allows you to get a little experience without any risk or cost of goods sold when you sell items you no longer want.

2. Yard sales / Garage Sales

I sourced almost exclusively from yard sales for a number of years.  I personally have found that fundraising sales often have the best prices because the people selling the stuff aren't personally attached to the items.  A t-shirt Great-Aunt Maude brought back from Cancun often costs more at a yard sale if the seller remembers Great Aunt Maude fondly.  Where I live, it rains.  A lot.  All summer.  Because I don't like to be wet, I don't go to many sales anymore, and when I do they tend to be charity ones.

3.  Retail Stores

This is known as "retail arbitrage".  Buying something and selling it for more.  Closeout stores are often a great place to do this.  Sometimes things get discontinued or are hard to find.  I paid for my entire trip to a weight loss camp by selling limited edition Lay's potato chips at a markup.  I made a couple hundred when the coated aspirin "Ascriptin" was discontinued but I found several at a store near me.  Your profits are often smaller than if you source other routes, but it always depends on the product.

6. Bin Stores

These are stores filled with Amazon returns and closeouts.  Prices often vary from one day to the next, the highest prices on days they restock.  I know several people who source mainly from these.

7. Pallet liquidation

This is where you buy a pallet of Amazon returns.  I have heard of varied results on this.  I have not tried it.

8. Create Your Own Product

This isn't exactly what most people who sell on eBay want to do, but if you craft, it's a possibility.

9. Thrift Stores

This is one of my favorite places to source.  Of course, I live in a low cost of living area and thrift stores around me show this.  Most don't care if you resell or not, at least where I live.  I used to be shy about getting out my phone and researching in store, but no longer -- I have my phone out a lot unless something is cheap enough I don't mind losing the purchase price.  Books are something I almost always scan if they have a barcode, and I at least look them up if it's something without a barcode.

10. Online

If you watch, you can often find deals on one site to sell on another.  Some people do well with this, but personally I think it takes too much time.

11.  Goodwill Outlets

I know what you're thinking.  "But Goodwill is a thrift store."  True.  But I consider Outlet shopping a whole different breed of puppy.  Everything is sold by the pound, with a few exceptions -- books are usually individually, ceramic and glassware is usually a low fixed priced.  Nothing is sorted.  You need to dig.  You might find garbage (I once found a urine specimen.) or you might find treasure (same Outlet I found the urine specimen, someone found a World Series baseball bat that sold online for a quarter of a million dollars.  This is, when spending money, the most bang for your buck.  The outlets vary from region to region.  Some places they are dirty and icky, other places they are fantastic.  Some allow children on the sales floor, others make them wait outside an area at the end of the aisles on their parents.  I've been in outlets in almost a dozen states, and have seen good and bad stores.  I usually spend $30 - $40 each time I go to one.  Your milage will vary depending on where you live, but as for me, this is the main place I get items for resell.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

Can You Earn a Full Time Living Selling on eBay?

 FTC disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I was asked about if you can earn a full time living selling on eBay or if it was too late to get in on it, and I decided to answer that question here.

The quick and easy answer is:  Yes, you can!  However, there's a few things to know.

It is a LOT of work.  I mean a lot.  Especially if you are first starting out.  Your listing limits will be small, and there's no way you can make a living selling 10 things a month until your limits are raised.  So this is something you will need to ease into -- and start getting used to.  

When I first started selling, there were no fixed priced listings, so I had seven boxes, and I would put stuff in each box as I listed it each day.  I have always loved "smalls" -- tiny items that are easy to ship, so this worked well for me.  About nine years ago I switched to almost all fixed priced listings.  I currently have over 2500 items with about two thousand DIFFERENT listings.  That's a lot of storage space.  I am always trying to figure out the best use of space for storage.  I have different types of shelves for storage, such as bookcases for books, and for things that can be stored in 20 gallon tubs, I have invested in two of these units that store one dozen rubbermaid tubs where I can just slide out the tub needed.  I have all my tubs labeled based on items I sell, such as 'plush', 'craft kits', 'Christmas ornaments', etc. to make it easy to find things.  For very small items, I like using hanging jewelry organizers.  That way I can see through the plastic to find the item quickly when it sells.

I also have two storage units.  While some people use a storage unit for stuff that is listed, I currently use it for what some eBay sellers call their "death pile" or "money pile" -- meaning the treasures I have sourced and need to list.  This can get expensive, though, so I would recommend that you try and list as you source. 

There is a LOT of time involved.  Everything from finding items to sell, research, writing descriptions, photographing, storage, packing, and shipping will be done by you until you start making enough to hire some of this out.  Also, don't forget customer service -- everything from complaints about how much the post office charges for shipping to questions if a certain person is in a yearbook.

Learning about what sells is another time consuming activity.  While the YouTuber "Daily Refinement" suggests staying in one niche (he does clothes), that isn't always possible for everyone.  I live over 20 minutes from the closest stoplight, and there is no way I could depend on thrift stores in my area to provide enough of one type of item for me to sell.  While he suggests finding people who will source for you, I'd rather do that myself.  So I watch a lot of YouTube to see what others sell.  I watch a number of people, but I particularly enjoy "Bolo Buddies", "The Rebel Reseller",  and "Prison2Profit".

Another thing to consider when selling on eBay is taxes.  There have been people all upset that eBay is going to start sending a 1099-K this year when you reach $600 in sales/shipping.  But the fact is, everyone should have been paying taxes on their profits the whole time.   I have an accountant and while I was hesitant to spend the money for a few years, she has helped me save so much that it's well worth hiring her each year.  Remember things like shipping supplies, your postage scale, milage while finding items to sell, the cost of those items, eBay fees (which are high), and even a home office can be deducted.  

My husband hasn't worked since October, and we've been having a rough go of it financially lately.  Things were getting bad for him at work due to him having to switch meds, and he needed to leave that environment for a while.  What he didn't count on was how much work eBay is.  Also, since I was already getting deductions for things like the home office, that cannot be doubled, and he has to work harder to make the same amount as I had been.  Ideally, he wouldn't have quit his job until he could prove to himself that he was capable of brining home what he was making working outside the home by doing this in his spare time.  Unfortunately he didn't have that luxury, and it's been a bit difficult especially since he has been having trouble with meds (as have I) since we switched insurance.

So, yes, you can still make a full time living on eBay.  It is a lot of work, a lot of learning, planning, and LOTS of shipping.  There is an old meme about what people think eBay sellers do, and what they really do, and the "what I really do" is a man surrounded by shipping boxes.  That's about the sum total of it.  

There's so much to learn about selling, and I learn something new almost daily.  But for now, I invite you to check out my articles about making money online.  

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio Read Along. Chapter One

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

This is a new series.  A friend and I are reading through The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan and I am adapting my thoughts on the book here for everyone.

The book opens and there is no shortage of jingles.  I don't really get why a lot of them won.  I think this encouraged me big time when I was just beginning to enter contests and sweepstakes because I read some of these entries and I was just dumbfounded at things that won.  I realize that some expressions are now just archaic, like rhyming I'd with denied, but some I just cant' make hide nor hair of why they won.  I expect that is was just part of the era, as I'd hear my mother sometime make similar rhymes, but for my mind, now in the 21st century, I'm a bit confused as to why they won.  She was certainly talented, but I always think, "What is the company wanting?" and I can't imagine companies wanting some of these today.  Still, she was certainly talented and it very much worked for her, so I can't criticize too much.  

The coding of entries was brilliant for ones that you could enter multiple times.  However, if it was one entry per person, it was technically against the rules, but I understand why she did it if she did break the rules.  I mean, this was her only income to feed 10 kids.  

$10 ($103 today according to historical currency conversions) for a sexist jingle about Dial soap.  I mean, it's cute, but I don't think it's anything that special.

A couple off the top of my head entries:

I'm glad I use Dial, 
My hubby too,
For smells won't come near,
and neither Covid Mu.

(Okay, so that was bad and Mu is history, but. . )

I'm glad I use Dial, the golden bar is worth its weight by keeping me smelling fresh all day.

I'm glad I use Dial, gold, white, or spring water, keeps me smelling fresh, same with my daughter.  

Again, these are just first thoughts and I'd likely throw them out and work more.  Rule #1 is always "What's good for the company".  I think "What do the judges want to see?" then start from there.  Dial.  What are the reasons the judges want to hear you use Dial?  Freshness, cleanness, antibacterial properties.  Dial brings up pictures of flowers, showers, health, refreshing showers of a morning,  Then I think what might I be able to rhyme.  I have a rhyming dictionary, but usually I'll just sit and rhyme through the alphabet. 

Dial.  Bile. Kyle. File. Gile, Hile, Jile, Lyle, Mile, Nile, Pile, Rile, Sile, Tile, Yile, Zile, Chile, Shile, Plile, strile, style, while, 

Then I might pull out the words that might be useable.  File, Style, While, 

I'm glad I use Dial,
Keeps me fresh all the while,
I'm at school, work, or play,
Keep me clean through the day,
and the price is just my style.

(See how that's a bit better than the ones above?)

I had to laugh at "Hmm! Wonder what This Is" poem.  Reminds me of my days  of refunding.  I literally had an entire room filled with proofs of purchases.  In December 1993 or 1994 I was given a 30 year stash. Sometimes I would take labels off cans or remove them from boxes if I was needing to complete an offer quickly.  I sure am glad for savings apps now and not having to play dinner roulette and wonder if you are opening a can of green beans or sauerkraut.  

Also, it is still legal to require a proof of purchase for a skill contest, but not a sweepstakes.  

On page 25 she mentions a great thing to keep in mind -- who is it being marketed to -- such as you don't want to mention kids in an alcohol entry (unless you say something like both you and baby need a bottle at 2 AM, just with different refreshments -- even then I'd be cautious).  

I do remind myself reading her entries that it was a different era.  What was clever then makes people 70 years later wonder what on earth she was talking about.  There was a cuteness and charm to the 1950s, a whitewashed look where all faces were scrubbed and hid the pain just behind the surface.  But sometimes exaggerations or plain out lies help win.  Making an entry seem like every other entry, then leaving the judge laughing has worked for me.  Timing is something I consider, too.  An essay / video needs to be interesting enough at the beginning to keep you watching, but personally I like to think of it as a joke.  You want the punch line last.

Stay tuned for Prize Winner Chapter 2 Read along, and in the meantime, feel free to read all my blog posts on Sweepstakes and contests.

Friday, January 7, 2022

What is Fetch Rewards? Is it worth it?

 Very few people see their smartphone as a savings tool.  But that is how I view my device.  Why?  Savings apps.  I have several, and snap receipts from different places, but the one I want to talk about today is Fetch.

Savings apps are just that -- savings.  You won't get rich from them because you are getting something that you paid refunded to you.  But they can help you save on your grocery bill and help you out with saving for something special, be it Christmas gifts, a Disney trip, or just back to school shopping.  And good news, you can earn rewards from those purchases as well when you use Fetch!

With some savings apps, you have to go into the app before you go to the store,  add offers, see what the limit is etc.

The best thing about Fetch is you just snap your receipt after you are done shopping.  Really!  Usually most brands get you about the value of 1% back in points.  BUT most receipts will give you 25 points.  That's about 2 1/2 cents.  That's not a lot, but then there are times you find something you will use a lot of on sale, and you might earn quite a few points on those receipts.

ANY receipt works.  Fast food, grocery store, home improvement store.  Plus, there is a feature when you download the app where you can attach your e-mail for them to check for Amazon receipts.  

Another thing I like to do is see what the "pop up offers" are.  While these are things I have to remember to look for, and living in a rural area like I do, my stores may not have it.  Sometimes the pop up offers are for 100% of your purchase price back in points.  A few things I've gotten totally free are certain types of bread, Reese's Klondikes, Back the Roots growing kits (which my guinea pigs loved having some fresh sprouts!) 

I don't look at apps as a way to get rich, but I did cash out about $50 of rewards from Fetch last year.  That's a Christmas gift.  Or my phone bill for one month. Just from snapping receipts that I would have otherwise thrown away.  Of course a number of these came from offers I got totally free, but sure, I can eat a certain kind of bread that week to get the purchase price back.  

If you download Fetch Rewards on the Google Play or App store and use my code of NP7PE you will have an extra $3 put into your account and I will have $2 put in mine.  

Bottom line:  Fetch Rewards is a must have savings apps because all you have to do is snap receipts.  No adding offers to your account before shopping, and all receipts are accepted.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

When Buying SMALLER Saves Money

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links. 

Like the rest of the world, we are getting ready for Christmas.  Our niece was born during lockdown in 2020, so in my very well stocked gift closet, I found some diapers but instead of the size six she is now wearing, they were size two.  For whatever reason, I often have trouble with store employees helping me, so I asked my husband to see if CVS would return them and give us the same diapers, but in the correct size.  Most stores will do this as babies and toddlers are ever growing and it's not uncommon to get too many of a size.  

­čŹ╝Check out my article: A dozen tips to getting free and low cost diapers.

CVS put the money on a gift card, and the next thing I knew as I was doing my shopping, my husband called me asking what coupons on our card he should be using.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How To Save Money Shopping for Groceries at Walmart

How to Save Money Shopping at Walmart
I live in a town that has a grocery store that is smaller than some convenience stores I have been to.  Ten miles away there is a Walmart and a mom and pop grocery store.  While Wal-Mart doesn't give me the best savings for my grocery dollar, it's most convenient, and the easiest to save money when shopping.

My first tip is simple.  Just shop there.  Usually prices are a couple cents cheaper than other places, and this can add up.  There are exceptions, especially if you use coupons, but for the most part, just shopping at Wal-Mart saves you money over other stores.  Wal-Mart can be very picky about coupons.  This can vary by location, but whenever I have had a problem with a coupon, it has tended to be at a Walmart.  Most recently I had a coupon for a free bag of Lay's with a price limit of $4.29.  The bag of chips I got was $4.30.  Instead of writing in $4.29, the cashier said I had to get a smaller bag.  Called a manager over, and she said the 'good on any Lay's item" was in fact, NOT good on any Lay's item, but the price limit could not be exceeded.  Finally my husband (who had worked at Walmart for a few years) explained that it should work if the price is keyed in.  (That usually has to be done with ANY totally free coupon, regardless of price.)  The manager was gone by that point, the cashier tried it, and viola -- we got $4.29 off our bag of chips.  I've had cashiers (and managers) create unique coupon policies at check out (We only accept one coupon per day since we don't "double" and using two different coupons is "doubling" -- which is NOT what doubling is!)  My point is if you plan on using many coupons, WalMart may not be the grocery store of your choice.

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

My second tip is to use iBotta.  It's super easy to use at Walmart.  You just sign up, add offers to your account, and then scan the bar code at the bottom of your receipt once you check out.  You don't have to scan any groceries at all!  In fact, if you are using grocery pick up, it is so much easier to redeem your offers because you just make sure you are putting the correct item in your cart and even if you don't know where a certain free after offer item is, the employee pulling your order would know!  One great thing about iBotta is Walmart is a partner store with some offers.  Last year at Thanksgiving and at Back To School they had a number of free items (including a turkey breast!) 

Third, use other savings apps.  While savings apps aren't specific to Wal-Mart, they do help.  I use Fetch (My referral code is NP7PE ).  It takes a while for points to add up but I get a few Amazon gift cards a year with this app.  I also use Receipt Hog (My referral code is stroh862 )  This one takes even longer to see rewards from it than Fetch.  With both of these, instead of scanning the bar code like you do with iBotta, you have to snap photos of your receipt.

Fourth, there aren't many places that offer cash back for grocery pick up at Walmart unless it's your first time using the service, but if what you need can be shipped, go through a cash back site.  This can work because sometimes the items you want aren't in stock at your local store.  My husband and I love spicy Nongshim noodles but they are not sold in our area because most people don't like spicy food where we live.  Another item we use is Nido.  It's great for cooking and you can't tell it was powdered milk when you use it to cook with or in potato soup.  It's often found in Hispanic markets, and none of our stores within an hour carry it.  So I order it online, and Walmart is the place.  Pet items count if you order from and not use the online grocery pick up.
The best places for cash back at Walmart are:

TopCashBack - 2% for pet items  Swagbucks offers 1 point per dollar spent at  (Although I admit I could be mistaken on this and it could change at any time.)  

One of the great things with going through Swagbucks is you can turn your points into rewards for future Walmart cards!  You can also add "magic receipt" items which are usually identical to iBotta offers if you would prefer Swagbucks over iBotta (but usually the value is higher with iBotta.)

Lastly, use a good rewards credit card.  Unfortunately Walmart is not coded as a grocery store for most credit card issuers, so a good overall no fee card is a good choice.  Just be sure and pay it off and not carry a balance or your rewards will not be as much as you spent.  A card I would recommend for Wal-Mart shopping is Discover.  You also get a $50 statement credit when you use the card in your first three months of opening it.

Wal-Mart used to have more offers that appealed to bargain shoppers to lure us in.  But gone are the days of the Savings Catcher and ad matches, and we have to do what we can with what is available, but thankfully the Walmart only iBotta offers have really helped make up for Savings Catcher.  (Especially for me because there were no major stores to compare prices to within a 25 mile radius!) 

Wal-Mart is the toughest store to save money at if you are wanting to take a little extra time and stretch your budget as far as it can go, but it's also the easiest in the fact that overall their prices are lower than most grocery stores.  There's not a lot of ways to save at Wal-Mart, but at max you would spend about 5 minutes looking up iBotta offers, then putting in your receipt.  Time is money, so I do shop at Wal-Mart even though I can often save more elsewhere with a little effort.

This is the first in a series of saving money on groceries at different stores.