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One benefit of having a smartphone is easy access to apps that can help save money on your grocery bill!
I wanted to do a review of each of the apps that I use, giving an explanation and pros/cons of each. The following apps are those that I have found the most useful or valuable and that I think are worth the time involved to use.
Keep in mind that the value in these apps will vary depending on where you live and where you shop. I live in central North Carolina and buy almost all of our groceries at Food Lion and our local co-op, Weaver Street Market. I also sometimes make trips to Walgreens and Target, but not often.
Ibotta is an app that gives you cash rebates if you complete short tasks and buy certain products. Once you have earned $10 in rebates you can have the money transferred to your bank account. In the few months I have had my phone I have earned over $30 using Ibotta, so to me it is worth the few minutes it takes to use it before a shopping trip.
When you open the app you can select “Grocery” to view the current rebate offers. Offers change frequently so I try to check for new ones about once a week. Select your store and scroll through the available offers. Complete the “tasks” for each offer that you may like to use and you are ready to go.
The tasks vary from just clicking a button to taking a one question survey to watching a short video. My goal is to get through the tasks as fast as possible in order to unlock rebates so they might not be getting the most reliable information from me!
A big bonus of using Ibotta at Food Lion is that you can link your “MVP Card” to your Ibotta account. After you link your card, all you have to do to redeem the offers is scan your MVP Card at checkout. A few days later you will get an email that the rebates have been added to your account.
There are also bonuses that you can earn by completing certain tasks, such as redeeming three offers in a month. There is a lot of potential for savings if you can use this app to its fullest.
PROS: Features rebates on natural and organic food; no taking a picture of your receipt if you link your store card
CONS: Sometimes annoying tasks such as videos to watch; have to shop at specific stores
Checkout 51 is similar to Ibotta in that it features cash rebates on particular items each week. It is different in that you can shop at any store and redeem the offer by submitting a picture of your receipt.
It is also different in that you don’t have any tasks to complete to unlock rebates and it offers rebates on produce anddairyy items every week. I can almost always earn a few dollars on each shopping trip by just buying my regular bananas, yogurt, etc.
PROS: Can shop anywhere, includes rebates on produce, dairy and organic/natural foods
CONS: Have to spend time taking a picture of your receipt; must reach $20 before you can cash out
SavingStar is an app that I think of as a combination of Ibotta and Checkout 51. It also offers cash rebates that can be deposited into your bank account once you reach $5 in rebates.
Like Ibotta, you can link your store card to your account and just scan it at checkout to redeem your offers. So no taking pictures of your receipt. Like Checkout 51, it offers rebates on produce and healthy food each week. In the app, you just click on the plus symbol to add the offer to your list and get the rebate after you buy the product.
SavingStar also offers rebates that can be earned over multiple shopping trips. For example, I earned $7 back after I spent $22 on Ziploc products over the course of 3 months. I combined the rebate with sales and coupons and stocked up on storage bags and containers for about half price.
PROS: Only $5 to cash out; can cash out into your bank account, PayPal, Amazon.com gift cards, or donate to charity; offers for produce/healthy food each week; can link your store card to your account
CONS: None except the minute it takes to add the items to your list
Favado is an app that helps you discover the best deals at the stores where you shop. For example, every Wednesday, it compiles all of the items in this week’s Food Lion circular, puts them in order based on how good of deal they are, and provides links to coupons that match the items on sale. It basically does all of the hard work for you.
When you first use Favado you can select the stores for which you want to see sales. As you are viewing the sales, you can click the “Add to List” button to add the items to a shopping list which you can then email to yourself. If there is a paperclip next to an item’s price, it means there is a coupon match-up for that item.
Here are directions to email yourself your shopping list and get links to any matching coupons. After you have created your shopping list, scroll back up to the top of the screen. In the top right-hand corner is a list icon which will display the number of items you have on your list.
Click that list icon and on the next screen, you will see an envelope icon in the upper right-hand corner. Click that to email yourself your shopping list. The email will include links to any printable coupons that match the sale items you selected. The whole process takes 2-3 minutes and has helped me save bunches.
PROS: Fast and easy; saves you the time you may have spent reading each store’s circular
CONS: Not always accurate; sometimes the sales aren’t available at my local store and sometimes the coupons are outdated or do not apply to the specified product
It is worth noting that at this time you can use these rebates on top of sales and coupons. You can also sometimes redeem multiple offers on the same product using several apps. These scenarios lead to free or really cheap groceries. Yay!