With another school year under way and the holiday season fast approaching — seriously, it’ll be here before you know it — we know you’re looking for ways to save money.
And the easier the better, right?
Well, it doesn’t get much simpler than using your smartphone to download some money-saving apps! And for regular trips to the store, like grocery shopping, these apps are great for shaving a little off the purchase price of items you have to buy anyway.
To get the most bang for your buck, these apps require some work before and after you go shopping.
I know — scanning barcodes and receipts just feels like one more thing to do when you’re already busy.
But trust me, once you make it a habit and incorporate it into your routine, it doesn’t feel like an extra step. Plus, it’s a good, teachable (and dare I say, fun) opportunity to involve the whole family in saving money.
If you’re looking for something other than coupons to add to your money-saving toolkit, download these best apps to save money. And the greatest thing of all is that they are FREE!
Ibotta is a cash-back app. Basically, you pay full price for an eligible item, and then receive some money back after you make the purchase.
Ibotta offers rebates at a number of popular retailers. Here’s how it works: You begin by perusing the app for your retailer of choice. One you select it, go through that week’s rebates to see which items currently offer money back. The amount typically ranges from 25 cents to a buck or two.
You can also take advantage of combo rebates, which offer more money back when you purchase select items together (think: a case of beer and a bag of chips for an upcoming party).
You have to scan an item’s barcode, and watch a quick video or answer a short quiz to add it to your account. Afterward, you have to scan the barcode or QR code at the bottom of your receipt — so make sure to hold on to it!
For regular purchases like food, this is a good way to put some cash back in your pocket. Certain Ibotta promotions allow you to earn money back on services like Uber, too!
Once you pass specific payment thresholds, you can redeem money for gift cards or transfer it to your PayPal account. In most cases, you’ll receive your rewards within 48 hours.
Looking to save money at Walmart? You’re in luck!
The Walmart app contains a section called “Savings Catcher.” You don’t have to worry about keeping an eye out for eligible purchases for this app. Simply create your free account, login and then upload your receipt.
The best part? Walmart does all the work for you!
The app compares prices and currently advertised sales at local retailers. If it finds a lower price, you’ll be credited the difference, which you can redeem via a Walmart e-gift card. You’ll find out within a couple days how much money, if any, you earn back.
As someone who uses Savings Catcher weekly, the change here and there adds up quickly!
One of our favorite retailers recently rolled its two apps into one.
As of August 2017, the Target app has merged with its Cartwheel app to bring you the best of both worlds. Now you can take advantage of multiple ways to save within one awesome app.
Download the Target app and login. (Note: Cartwheel users who used a social account to sign up will have to move to a Target.com account.) From there, you can save on everything from food to diapers to makeup. See what’s on sale, scope out Cartwheel deals and check out other promotions for added savings.
4. Checkout 51
Similar to Ibotta, you can use Checkout 51 to get cash back on eligible purchases at the store. (Bonus: Sometimes Ibotta and Checkout 51 offer the same discounts, so check each app ahead of your next shopping trip for more savings!)
Create an account and browse new offers every Thursday. After buying your items, take a clear picture of the receipt with your smartphone. You’ll also have to check off the items and quantities you bought in the app.
After you account balance reaches $20, you can cash out and Checkout 51 will mail you a check.
Some retailers offer price adjustments if something you bought drops in price at a later date. Unless you’re constantly monitoring an item after the purchase date, though, you’re likely to miss out on those savings.
That’s where Paribus comes in.
Paribus is a free service that reaches out to its list of 25- retailers on your behalf when your online purchase from a participating partner drops in price. To get started, create an account. (You can read Paribus’ security overview here.) Its algorithms scan your mailbox for order confirmation emails on purchases made in the past 30 days. Paribus then monitors and compares price changes in real time.
Once it finds an eligible claim, Paribus reaches out to the retailer on your behalf. When I had to replace my 10-year-old winter coat last year, I snagged an awesome deal online at a department store and received $10 back when the price dropped later that week!
Depending on the policy, you might be required to submit some additional information to claim your refund. From there, you’ll be credited via your method of payment or store credit.
An added bonus: As of September 2017, Paribus no longer takes a portion of your refund! That means you get to keep 100% of your savings. Nothing beats saving money with little effort!
Kathleen Garvin is an editor at The Penny Hoarder, one of the world’s largest personal finance websites. In 2017, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company for the second consecutive year and the No. 25 fastest-growing private company overall in America. Check out “12 Ways to Save Money and Add $5K to Your Bank Account This Year” for more ways to pad your bank account.