Couponing classes are a (popular) thing in Northeast Ohio: Here are some savings tips

(OHIO) WOIO - Everyone wants to save money. For some people, though, looking for ways to save is more than a hobby. It's a way of life.

Cleveland 19 News went to talk to the experts to find savings for you. We're compiling what we've learned to tell you about the Discounts You Didn't Know About.

Couponing is a classic way to save, one that gained popularity during the "Extreme Couponing" craze. Television shows chronicled the cases of people who learned the tricks of couponing in order to secure massive discounts on their purchases, sometimes for free.

Rachel Krych is one of those people who took that information and mastered it. Now she teaches courses on how you can do the same. Her "Couponing with Rachel" courses, which are held at libraries and civic centers across Northeast Ohio, are often packed.

"I think the height of its popularity was during the Extreme Couponing, the time when they had the Extreme Couponing show, but you know, everyone is still trying to find ways to save," said Krych.

She recommends you still buy the Sunday paper, an oldie-but-goodie resource for the coupon faithful. However, she says there are other, high-tech ways you can find coupons.

"I'll use coupons going on vacation, at the movies, just about anywhere," she said.

In fact, the new way to coupon puts the savings right at your fingertips-and in your pocket. Couponing apps directly on your phone have surged in popularity in recent years. Groupon, which lets you find local vendors, pay up front for a discount, then redeem on site, launched a decade ago. Since then, it's linked customers and companies, leading to millions in discounts.

Another app Rachel Krych uses--and talks about--often is Ibotta. That app links with local grocery stores and other retailers to offer you discounts. After you buy the item, you submit the receipt by taking a photo with your phone. The app automatically credits your account with cash.

"It puts coupons at our fingertips, so no longer do we have to only rely on the Sunday paper Although, I'll tell you, get the Sunday paper. It still has some awesome coupons, but it's a way of having coupons at your fingertips anywhere you're at," she said.

Another way to save is to look at the memberships you already have. If you're a AAA member, there's a chance you have discounts you aren't using.

AAA stands for the American Automobile Association, and they're mostly known for roadside service. However, AAA Spokesman Jim Garrity says your membership can get you a lot more than that.

"The average AAA member may not be aware of all the money they can actually save, although we're noticing in the last few years, that's starting to change," said Garrity.

Your card could be accepted at a variety of restaurants and retailers, with some knocking five to twenty percent off your purchase with proof of membership.

Members can get 10 to 25 percent off many eateries.
They can get 25 to 35 percent off movie tickets.
There's also offerings of 5 to 15 percent off hotels.
Prescriptions are another big opportunity to save money, with AAA partnering with pharmacies to secure 75 percent discounts, in some cases.

"Take the AAA card more often, and you may be surprised to how much money you actually can save at retailers all across the country, and all across the world," said Garrity.

Speaking of cards, your credit card is probably an essential part of your financial life. But did you know that not all credit card rewards are created equal?

Multiple websites, including NerdWallet.com, will break down your financial situation, including what you want to get out of your card, and recommend the best options for you.

We checked the rankings for 2018, which are broken down by Best for Families and Cash Back, Best for Travel, and Best for Dining.

According to the site, Blue Cash Preferred Amex offers you six percent cash back at grocery stores and three percent at gas stations, making it a good option for families with children.

Capital One Venture will give you two airline miles for every dollar you spend, earning it the number one for travel spot.

Chase Sapphire Preferred, meanwhile, gives you one point per dollar, every time you go out to eat, making it the best for dining, according to the website.

Cleveland financial expert Tom Stockett says when it's time for you to choose a card, rewards are a big benefit, and shoppers are looking more closely at how they can get the biggest bang for your buck. However, your choices may be limited, depending on your credit score.

"If you're in a low credit category, where your credit score is 545 and below, or you could be all the way up in the excellent credit score of 720 and above, the range of offerings is going to depend upon your credit score," said Stockett.

Usually, the better your credit score, the better your rewards.

"It's so based upon what each consumer is trying to get out of the card, the benefits they're trying to receive, as to which card would be best. Once again, use those analytical tools to break it down, to figure out which one is best for you," he said.

Fortunately, those are all over the Internet now. Stockett says while you're weighing your options, you should also take a good, long look at the fine print.

"As the consumer, we need to empower ourselves to utilize these tools, these rewards to our benefit, not to our detriment," he said.

From couponing to memberships to credit cards, there are ways to do that. As technology changes the way we save money, financial experts say it just takes persistence and the knowledge to seek out discounts. A little research can go a long way.

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