What do TikTok and couponing have in common?
For Katie Swanson, TikTok has become a platform to offer lessons on how to save a few bucks on store purchases.
If you don’t know what TikTok is, think of it as the new, different spin on what Vine was when it rose to popularity back in 2012.
TikTok has become popular over the past year with over 1 billion all-time downloads and is typically used among Gen Z-ers, who use it to showcase dance routines or to share fun experiences.
But now, people like Swanson are using the app as a teaching platform.
“There is an audience that is super engaged and wanting to learn how to save money,” said Money.com reporter Julia Glum. “I think these TikTok coupon lessons almost are an easy-to-consume way to kind of dip your toe into it.”
Swanson, who is self-taught, started couponing when she had her first child and was trying to save a little bit of money on shopping. Swanson estimates that she saves about $8,000 a year.
She said, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but going from two incomes to one income and having a baby, which is very expensive, I knew I had to do something to save money.”
Six years later, she’s still couponing.
“My favorite thing about couponing is definitely that shopping high,” Swanson said. “Being able to walk out of the store with stuff for free or even being paid to take it. That amazing feeling just doesn’t go away.”
As for TikTok, sharing her knowledge about saving money began as a complete accident.
“I never joined it for couponing,” she said. “It wasn’t until someone asked what my username is and I showed a quick 15-second video of my stockpile and it got 3 million views and I think it kind of blew up from there.”
Since then, Swanson has been known as “Coupon Katie” and her TikTok channel has garnered over 600,000 fans and thousands of video likes. She also shares her tips on YouTube under the same name.
The mother of two keeps it light by using humor and informative clips that show people how to score big savings on things like make-up and household items or showing off her latest couponing haul at the store.
“I think couponing works so well for TikTok because a lot of deals are time-sensitive, they come and go and TikTok allows users to create videos in a very fast way,” said Glum.
“I do think I’ve put a spin on couponing,” said Swanson. “It’s attracting more young people into the couponing world... Couponing is not dorky. It’s not lame. It’s something interesting and neat and different.”
Here are some of Swanson's tips for successful couponing:
1. Don't overwhelm yourself
For those that want to start couponing, Swanson said to take baby steps and to take one deal at a time. She said, "You might see some of my stockpiles, my hauls, and I'm grabbing a cart full of stuff, and you want to do that too, that’s what I made a mistake with when I started couponing is that I got a cart full of stuff and I didn't know what I was doing and I screwed up and I was about to quit."
2. It's not a competition
Many may want to purchase everything in sight when it comes to couponing, but Swanson said that it's not a competition. "At the end of the day, we're all here to save money," she said.
3. Use couponing to your advantage
Swanson encourages younger people to use couponing to help save money. While she says it's not the answer to everything, Swanson points out, "Why would you want to pay $3 for a thing of toothpaste when you can get it for free? That $3 can be spent elsewhere and it does add up fast."
Here are some useful new apps and sites to help you save money:
The site lets you bid on pretty much any item for sale online. You find a product, tell PriceWaiter what you are willing to pay, and it either accepts or counters that offer.
Use your phone to start taking photos of your snipped coupons. SnipSnap does two smart things: it removes the paper scraps from your wallet, and shares the digitized coupons so everyone can use them and you can use other people’s snapped coupons uploaded to the app.
If you’ve already done your shopping, by just scanning your receipt, Ibotta will tell you if an item was on sale and will then give you money back.