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How to Save $1,000 Per Year Using Apps

Learn how apps on your phone can help you save over $1,000 a year!

By
Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #225

I’m not a huge technology person. I don’t have cable, am horrible at video games, and barely know how to use our Roku. I don’t use my phone for much more than taking pictures, emailing, and texting, but I do use it on a regular basis to save money. I like to save money every chance I get! Today I’ll tell you how I used a few of my favorite apps to shave $1,000 per year from our household shopping budget.

I’d like to start by saying that none of these apps are sponsoring me or paying me to recommend them (though one of them, Ibotta, has sponsored my show in the past!). These are simply the apps that I have on my Android phone and use on a weekly basis. 

Grocery Store Apps

Let’s start first with a generic category of apps, which is grocery store apps. I have a few of them on my phone including Fry’s (the local Kroger brand), Sprouts, and Target. These are the three stores I shop at most often, so being able to have the information about what each of these stores has on sale each week is necessary for me to save on our grocery bills. As I’m doing my meal planning each week, I open up these apps and figure out which items are on sale at each store. I don’t plan all my shopping around the sales, but I do plan my weekly meals around which meat is on sale. Because it’s the most expensive item on the menu, it’s important to take advantage of sales on this costly item. Using the apps is quick and easy to see what’s on sale, and most times I can click to add an item to my grocery list at each store.

Another thing that the grocery store apps have started to offer is mobile coupons. When we started traveling more, I stopped our newspaper subscription which means that I was no longer getting coupon flyers each week. Luckily most grocery store apps have mobile coupons built in to them. Kroger makes it super easy by connecting my app with my loyalty shopping card. Once I click the button to add a coupon to my app, it will automatically apply to my grocery bill when I enter my loyalty number at the checkout. Other apps store the coupons in the app itself and require you to scan a barcode at checkout. It’s an extra step, but it only takes a quick moment. You can also use additional paper coupons if you buy multiples of an item, or you can leave your coupons at home if you only need to buy singles of items. Either way, the grocery store apps have a lot of savings built in to them.

Savings: $1,040 per year ($10/week by shopping sales + $10/week in coupons from $100 in groceries)

Cartwheel

I love going to Target because I can use two apps to save money there. Not only do I use the Target app to find sale items and mobile coupons, but I also use their Cartwheel app to get additional savings. Cartwheel discounts are in addition to other sales and coupons, so they can really add big savings! Plus, Target has gotten nice about putting signs up in the store on the largest discounts. For example, last week C9 workout gear was on sale, and also had a 25% discount available on Cartwheel, and both signs were up in the workout wear area. They don’t post signs for all the discounts on the app, so you want to make sure to go through and make sure to add the discounts to your app before you check out.

Savings: $208 per year ($4/week on discounts)

Ibotta

This next one is one of my favorites to use. Ibotta is not a savings app, rather a rebate app. There are a couple things I like about this app. First, the rebates are for numerous items at the grocery store including fruit and vegetables. There are brand specific rebates when you purchase the promoted bands of everything from frozen food to beer and liquor. These rebates tend to be around $.50 to $1.50 per item purchased. There are also rebates for general categories of items, like “cereal,” “milk,” and “bananas,” that are usually $.25 each.

The other thing that I like about Ibotta is that the rebates accumulate on my account until I’m ready to cash them out. It’s like growing a mini bank account that I use for my fun money. You can have your rebate money sent to a Paypal or Venmo account, or you can do what I do and buy gift cards with it. From Amazon to Whole Foods and many other businesses in between, you can get gift cards to give as gifts or use for yourself. It may not seem like these little rebates are worth it, but it’s usually pretty easy to get at least 3 or 4 rebates a week, and that adds up!

The absolute best part is that Ibotta can be used on top of any sales, coupons, and Cartwheel. A few weeks ago I used a $2 coupon to buy a box of diapers that was on sale for $4 off and had an additional Cartwheel discount. Then when I got home, I scanned the barcode and receipt and added another $4 of savings to my account. It was a pretty awesome feel to save money 4 ways on one item!

Savings: $156 per year ($3/week in cash back rebates)

Gas Buddy

This last app is one that we used a TON when we were living on the road in our RV. Have you ever filled gas in your car, only to drive away and find out that gas is $.20 cheaper at the gas station a mile down the street? That won’t happen ever again if you use Gas Buddy. Like I said, we used it all the time in the RV because we have a 50 gallon tank. We would start checking prices when we were at a quarter of a tank. Sometimes we pulled off immediately, and other times we would drive another 30 miles to save $10 or more per fill up.

Now, something to keep in mind is that the cost of unnecessarily driving across town just to save $.03 per gallon is likely going to cost you more in gas than you save. The way to use Gas Buddy is to look at where you are compared with where you’re going. In the Phoenix metro area, fuel is almost always significantly more expensive in Scottsdale than it is in other parts of the Valley. If I’m running low on gas when I’m in that part of town, I’ll look to see where the nearest station with lower priced gas is and stop there on my way home.

As a side note, I used to drive a Jetta TDI and found an extra use for Gas Buddy. Diesel fuel is not sold at all gas stations and I had several times that I was running on fumes before I found a station that had diesel. By using Gas Buddy and filtering the results for only diesel, I could easily find the nearest stations to fill up my car. If you drive a diesel vehicle in a big city, you need to have this app.

Savings: $156 per year ($3/week from saving $.15 on 20 gallons per week)

If you’ve been doing the math with my example numbers, the savings from using these four apps on a consistent basis is around $1660. I know people who save less, but I also know people who save more than this just with these four apps. Use just one, or combine them for the stacked savings!

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.