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Here's how you can make the most of loyalty programs

Diana Skakavac unpacks groceries in the kitchen of her grandparents' home in Toronto on Wednesday, Feb.21, 2023. Skakavac is behind the @havecouponswilltravel Instagram account. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Diana Skakavac unpacks groceries in the kitchen of her grandparents' home in Toronto on Wednesday, Feb.21, 2023. Skakavac is behind the @havecouponswilltravel Instagram account. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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Diana Skakavac is so serious about deal hunting, she considers saving one of her love languages.

While she's clipped coupons, scoured flyers and rooted around clearance aisles, some of her most powerful savings tools are grocery loyalty apps on her phone.

Using them smartly has helped the Toronto woman behind the Have Coupons Will Travel Instagram account save thousands of dollars.

Here's her advice for how you can use the apps to your advantage too:

Be patient 

When Skakavac signed her husband up for Loblaw's PC Optimum program, he got few offers and most weren't tailored to his shopping habits.

"It took a few months of me using his card for him consistently on certain purchases for him to actually start getting offers," Skakavac said, recommending people don't get frustrated if they don't see great promotions right away.

Scan your app every time

Skakavac hears from people who regularly tell her they didn't bother to scan their grocery loyalty app because they knew they weren't going to earn points on a purchase.

"I don't care if you think you're not going to earn any points, just scan the loyalty card," said Skakavac.

Her reason for scanning even without an immediate benefit is that the extra scan helps grocers learn more about your purchases to better tailor your offers in the future.

Combine offers

To power up your savings, compare the personalized offers in your grocery apps with deals you find in flyers, coupons you've saved, or price matching, where some grocers will sell you an item at a competitor's lower price if you bring them a flyer showing the sale item.

If your grocer allows you to combine these incentives, it maximizes your savings, said Skakavac.

Time your purchases

Some stores, such as Shoppers Drug Mart, have periodic bonus redemption events.

While 250,000 points might normally be worth $250, during these events, Skakavac has seen that amount of points hit $400 in value.

She knows people who let their points accrue so they can spend them on holiday gifts or treat themselves to big-ticket electronics.

Don't be afraid to skip an offer

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a deal, but Skakavac encourages people to put their budget first. For some, spending on something they may need later because they've found a deal is manageable, but for others, it could cause financial strain.

"Sometimes it does take a little bit of willpower to say 'I don't actually need this this week and I might not need this for a little bit, so I'm going to hold off on it,'" she said, recommending people not be afraid to walk away.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2024

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