4 apps I use to save money on groceries

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Yesterday afternoon, I made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some groceries and medicine. After checking my rebate apps, I saw that most of them had a rebate for my over-the-counter allergy medication, and I wanted to buy it before the rebates expired. I walked into the pharmacy area, and a lady was already browsing the allergy meds so I patiently waited for her to finish. “This stuff is so expensive!” she said to me, as she left. I smiled and nodded. Yes, medication is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! I was about to buy a similar product for more than 75% off.

Use Apps like Ibotta, Mobisave, Checkout51, and SavingStar to save money on groceries and other household items
Check out a list of my favorite apps that I use to save money on groceries.

If you are like me, groceries and other household items are my largest variable monthly expense. Little things like hand soap, napkins, and paper plates add up quickly. Plus, my husband and I have multiple food allergies, which makes our food budget higher than normal. We also try to eat organic and stay away from hormone-enhanced beef, poultry, and eggs. That can get very expensive, very quickly.

About a year ago, I started looking for different ways to save money on groceries and other household goods. I found a link for Ibotta and quickly discovered the joys of rebate apps. To date, I have saved $499.21. Here are the 4 apps I use the most.

Ibotta

Ibotta has saved me almost $400 in the year that I’ve been using it, and is my favorite app by far. Its very easy to use and has rebates for everything from groceries to toilet paper to cleaning supplies. All you have to do is upload your receipt and scan the barcodes of the items you wish to claim. Sometimes they will pay you a quarter just for uploading a receipt.

Also, there are non-grocery store rebates like Joann Fabrics, etc, and even rebates for mobile apps like iTunes or Jet. Just launch iTunes from the Ibotta app, and you can get 5% off of your purchase. Once you reach the $20 limit, you can either buy a gift card or link to your Paypal account for cash. Click here to try it out and get $10!

Checkout51

Checkout51 is very similar to Ibotta. You unlock the rebates that you want and upload your receipt. It does not have the same quantity of rebates like Ibotta, but they do offer rebates on a lot of things I buy regularly. In the year I’ve been using Checkout51, I’ve saved about $50.

Checkout51 is similar to Ibotta with a couple of key differences. First, their rebates have a limited quantity. I have waited too long to upload a receipt before and found that they ran out of rebates. FAIL! The other difference is that they will only mail you a check. No Paypal hook-up. Still, an app worth paying attention to! Check it out here !

Mobisave

I have really enjoyed using this app. It doesn’t have the volume of rebates that the previous two have, but, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. About 40% of Mobisave’s rebates are any item purchases. That means that if you buy any bar of soap, you get $.15 or if you bought any brand of mustard, you get $.25.

To make things even more awesome, there is no minimum payout. If you earn $.15, they immediately deposit that change into your Paypal account. I’ve been using this app for about 5 months and I have already saved about $34. Check it out here!

Savingstar

I just started using this app probably three months ago and have already saved $12. SavingStar doesn’t have the same quantity as the other apps, but the $5 payout limit is very beneficial. One of the key differences between it and the other apps is that some of SavingStar rebates can be redeemed if you make a minimum purchase towards a particular brand.

For example, SavingStar will offer $3 off a purchase of $10 worth of a popular brand of canned food. You redeem the rebate by buying one or many items of the canned food brand, as long as you buy $10 worth of qualifying items. They also offer rebates like $1.00 a purchase of my go-to brand of allergy meds with no minimum purchase required. Check it out here!

Using apps like these is an easy way to save some money at the grocery store. I typically try to stack these rebates to save as much as I can on a particular item. The allergy medication that I bought yesterday normally runs $18 a box. With all of the rebates and a coupon I had, I ended up paying about $3. SCORE!

Have you ever used these apps? Any recommendations for other apps that I can try?

 

How far are you willing to go to save money?

There are tons of blogs out there that give advice on how to save money. With some noted exceptions, the advice is sometimes the same. Cut out cable, don’t buy Starbucks, and eating out is for rich people. This is good advice! No one really needs TV (although, I’m totally going to watch Netflix later). Making my own coffee is easier on the wallet, and probably less sugar-y. But to be completely honest, I’m probably too lazy to cut out restaurants completely. I hate cooking, and I love food.

For me, it’s easy to listen to advice like this, but much harder to implement. To make things worse, when I actively TRY to do what I am supposed to like cutting back on restaurants, I see a positive change in my bank account but its SMALL! I am not a patient person. I like to see quick results. Otherwise, whatever I’m doing feels like a waste of time.

Which leads me to my question…What are you willing to do to save money or cut back on spending? I’m not talking illegal stuff here, but more dramatic changes for dramatic results. Something that is faster than just cutting back on coffee to save a couple of bucks a day… Something maybe a little crazy….

Mr. Cents and I have been thinking about this. We talk about our debt, and what we could do to get rid of it. There are multiple potential plans of actions, but, for the most part, we always come back to our house.

When we moved to Texas, we bought a really nice place. The housing prices here were so amazingly cheap compared to the east coast, and due to moving constraints, we needed a house very quickly. Renting proved to be difficult so we bought a brand new house in a new development. To be honest, we should have bought something smaller. Now, we have a much better idea of the area and are considering moving out.

One of the ideas we have it to purchase a couple of acres outside of town and put an RV or a trailer on it. Maybe even a tiny house! Property is cheap here, and there are some tax benefits to owning property outside of the city limits. Plus, reducing the size of our house will reduce all of our house related expenses like electric and water.

Serendipitously, this post was added to a blog I started following recently, Making Sense of Cents. I don’t remember how I found them but I’m pretty sure I saw them on Twitter. This couple travels around the US in an RV, and in this particular post, they interviewed another couple who was doing the same thing. Oh man! People have actually done something similar, and it worked. This might be a legit idea!

The biggest constraint on this is all of our crap. We have a lot of stuff. SOOO MUCH STUFF. I never notice it until we move or we come up with hair-brained schemes like this. We would have to dramatically downsize. The thought is both terrifying and liberating. Even if we decide the RV idea isn’t feasible, just getting rid of all of the clutter could earn us some extra side cash and could open up opportunities to just downsize our house.

Is this something that we should actually consider? Is living in an RV or trailer even doable? How far are you willing to go to save money and pay off debt?

Why spending money is like gaining weight

As I am writing this post, I’m eating a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie that I baked for my husband. To be completely honest, I’m just helping him finish them off because he wants to go on a diet and “eat clean”. And I just came from the gym, so I can eat cookies guilt-free.

Completely appropriate post-gym snack

I love food. Food is amazing. If you want to be my best friend, bring me some dark chocolate or a bottle of red wine. If I go to a farmers market or a festival, you will normally find me somewhere near a food truck. During family dinners, DO NOT get between me and the food. Its dangerous. I will move you out of the way. 

Deep.

Food is an essential part of our lives. It keeps us alive and healthy. Its delicious. But food can also be a vice. Come on, we’ve all done it. At the end of a vacation or a rather indulgent month, we hop on the scale, see that number, and cringe. Our visions of bikini-ready, summer body suddenly squashed under the weight of all the burgers, fries, margaritas, tacos, more margaritas, etc that we stuffed our faces with. The fat-pants call to us from our dresser. We get mad at ourselves and wonder how did it go so wrong?

Bacon on a cupcake? Yes, please.

Food is easy to over-indulge in. We get enticed by all of the deliciousness and don’t watch what we are eating. We stopped paying attention. Or, even worse, we get used to eating burgers and fries and then suddenly a kale salad doesn’t seem so delicious anymore. Broccoli is no match for french fries, and why chose a glass of water over sangria? Our idea of what a meal should look like changed slowly over time.

I could totally eat this burger right now.

In many ways, spending money is a lot like eating food. For the most part, you have to spend money to live. You need somewhere safe to sleep, clothes to wear, food to eat. You can’t get that stuff for free. Dollars are a lot like calories. Its easy to waste them on stuff that’s bad. Marketers spend millions or more to entice you to buy a product you don’t need. Stores and websites are designed to get you to spend more. Suddenly, trip to get new jeans suddenly became a shopping spree (I have totally done this. No judging). Maybe you got used to certain indulgences and then an occasional treat at Starbucks became a daily habit. You weren’t watching what you spent and at the end of the month, you look at your bank account and wonder where did all the money go.

Who eats pizza with a fork?

So what do you do now? I ask myself this question every time it happens. I have to wake up and realize that that I am not Warren Buffett, and I need to stop spending like I am. I have to admit to myself that I screwed up and try to be more mindful of where my money goes. Its time to go on a spending diet and cut back on the stuff that I THINK I need.

I am very guilty of “letting myself go” financially and have always found it difficult to get back on track. I am not a frugal person by nature. I have a tendency to go shopping when I’m bored and buy crap that I don’t need. When I’m tired or getting home late, I grab take out. When I start to notice myself slip, I have to remind myself of my long term goals and try to make a point to be more mindful of where my money goes. Then I move on and try not to freak out about it.

What about you? Do you have a tendency to over indulge when it comes to spending? Or are you blessed with self restraint and natural frugal-ness?