If you're tired of searching newspaper ads for coupons, there's a new craze that could save you money on your next trip to the grocery store. That craze involves smartphone apps that promise to help you save or make money just by using their technology.
Sandra Lerdal balances her schedule as a registered nurse and Mom to 2-year-old Oliver. Her week also includes at least one stop for groceries.
"I try to do one big trip a week. It usually turns into a couple extra little side trips here and there," said Lerdal.
On every trip she tries to get the best deals, but like most busy moms, she doesn't have time to pick through the paper to clip coupons.
"I would feel like I would always misplace them, they would be expired by the time that I would go to them, or it wasn't what I needed that week was an item on sale. I kind of haven't been as good about trying," said Lerdal.
Now a new trend could change the way you shop. Rebate-like apps that give cash back with some purchases.
Apps such as Ibotta let you select a store and offer money back on featured items, everything from groceries to electronics, simply with a proof of purchase in the form of a receipt.
"Some people will save $60 in three months if you're a heavy shopper and you're really looking for those deals," said Kappen.
Depending on the app you choose, you'll either receive savings, rebates or even cash contributed to your PayPal account. Digital Marketing Director at Epicosity, Chris Kappen, said it's not only the shoppers benefiting from the apps.
"As a user of one of these apps, you're essentially opting into a market research program," said Kappen.
Still, the idea is appealing to Lerdal.
"That would be something that I would use. As long as it's not a lot of hassle and I can do it quickly," said Lerdal.
"If I'm General Mills and I want to know how many people are purchasing Kellogg's, as an example in Sioux Falls, that's maybe a good way to get some baseline information on who's doing what around that category," said Kappen.
If you're concerned about how much personal information the app is tracking about you, Kappen said companies aren't as interested in who you are as much as they are in what you are buying.
"This information does not include anything personally identifiable. It's grouped up into a big pool of data that they send to other marketers and other businesses to help them navigate what products to market to different demographics," said Kappen.
If you have a smartphone and can keep track of your receipts, this might sound like an easy money-making option. However, there's more to the bottom line:
"No one is going to get rich using these apps. That being said, if you are fine with sharing some of your purchase data with third parties, in aggregate, no one's going to know who you are, and you're already shopping for these items, there's no harm in getting some extra money back," said Kappen.
In the meantime, Lerdal said don't be surprised if her next trip to buy groceries involves an app.
"If there's even a couple staple items per week that saves $2, $3, $5, it all adds up in the end. It's nice to have a little extra spending money here and there," said Lerdal.
Kappen adds before downloading any shopping app, you should look at the reviews in the app store to make sure it is legitimate and worth the download.
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