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Five Ways to Save Money Using Your iPhone

Updated on January 3, 2015
all of these apps mentioned are definitely in the Apple App Store; they may or may not be available for Android users.
all of these apps mentioned are definitely in the Apple App Store; they may or may not be available for Android users.

Today, there's an app for just about everything. There are even apps that can help you earn money for doing simple tasks. These apps certainly won't make you want to quit your day job, but they can help you save on your grocery bills, or help buy you something fun in the future. I say save because, while you are technically 'earning' money through these apps, they aren't exactly enough to quit your day job over. Instead, they just help pay for things, or give you money back on the things you've already paid for.

1. Coupon Apps

These apps tell you what has coupons (usually a manufacturer's coupon), and instead of sitting at home with your scissors and a pile of unclipped and clipped coupons surrounding you, you can just quickly browse through what you need and press a button to get the coupon, even if it's right before heading to the register.

Walgreens App

I wasn't actually a regular shopper at Walgreens until I downloaded the app. With the app, you can automatically clip coupons and use them by having the cashier scan the barcode on the screen of your phone when you check out. Also, they have something called "Balance Rewards", which reward you for making healthy choices in your life. If you walk around a lot, or even just weigh yourself on a regular basis, you can rack up points which can be converted into a $5 gift card once they reach 5,000. If you have a pedometer, such as the Fitbit, you can link that to your account so you don't have to manually enter your steps at the end of each day; the Fitbit app will sync and automatically add those steps. It takes a little while to get up to $5, but it is certainly better than nothing, and you don't have to really go out of your way to get these points.

Favado

This app lets you know what's on sale and which coupons to use. It also allows you to easily compare prices from different stores so that you can figure out which store has the best deals. Favado works with Cellfire instant coupons; if you integrate with it, you can get coupons loaded directly to your store card. The app claims that it can save you up to 70% on your groceries. I'm not quite certain it's easy to save quite that much, but with just a few minutes you could probably save yourself at least a few dollars worth of savings.

Southern Savers

If you are crazy about couponing, this is a great app to use. If not, it can help you through some couponing tips. It provides match-ups of stores' weekly ads and the coupons available so that you can further decrease sale prices.

2. Receipt Scanning Apps

These are usually by companies who use your purchases to do consumer studies. If you're really private about what you do or do not buy, these might not be for you, but if you don't particularly care if people know what you buy, then these can technically lower the cost of your grocery bill. Generally you just scan your receipt by taking a picture of it through the app, which then will process the receipt, and if it is a valid receipt (i.e. from one of the stores that particular app supports, was scanned within a certain amount of days since getting the receipt, etc), you get money or points back for your purchase. Think of it as a kind of rebate. The best part is that you can scan one receipt for multiple apps, so you can stack your savings.

I don't know if it's just me being paranoid, but I always get a sharpie and block out my card number whenever I scan a receipt. I know it's only the last four digits, but it makes me feel a tad bit safer, and most if not all receipt scanning apps will take it even with the redacted credit or debit card number.

Walmart App

Another one of my favorites is the Walmart app. I generally really dislike Walmart, but their app is really useful. If you scan your receipt or enter your receipt number within seven days of your purchase, and there is a lower price somewhere else, Walmart will reimburse you the difference on a Walmart Rewards eGift Card. Eventually, these savings add up, and you don't have to spend as much time searching for the absolute best price out there.

Ibotta

One of the biggest apps of this kind, Ibotta offers money back in the form of PayPal, Venmo, or as a gift card to select stores. To get the money back, you just tap on the particular offer and read something about it or answer a short survey question, scan the item's barcode, then scan the receipt.

Checkout 51

This app is a lot like Ibotta, but you don't have to read or scan barcodes; just take a picture of the receipt, and you're all set. Another great thing about this app is that you don't have to buy specific brands all the time; they often have staples, like bread, milk, and eggs, and as long as you buy one of those, regardless of brand, you can get money back.

What's more unique about the staple items is that it extends to things like fresh produce (tomatoes, bananas, etc) so that you can save without necessarily subsisting off of packaged goods. Checkout 51 pays via check once you reach $20.

Shopmium

Similar to the previous two. One of the main differences is that its deals are not tied to any store in particular. Although every store isn't listed in the app, it will still honor purchases that match the current offers so long as you provide a sales receipt that shows the details. However, since it only takes computerized sales receipts, some small delis or markets won't work.

SavingStar

This app covers most, if not all, grocery chains, drug stores, and big box retailers. It also has a "healthy offer of the week" offer to encourage people to buy fresh, healthy things like fruits and vegetables. You can get automatic savings for loyalty cards to stores that offer them.

Receipt Hog

The great thing about this app is that you don't have to specifically buy anything - your cash back is dependent only on the amount you paid shown on the receipt. It pays you in coins, which can then be converted into PayPal money or an Amazon gift card. If your receipt is under $10, you get 5 coins. $10-$49.99, 10 coins; $50 and up gets 20 coins. It also offers things like 'free spins' which can increase the amount of coins you have. Like all the other apps on here, you can use this one in conjunction of the other apps to increase the amount of money you save on groceries.

3. Ride

You pretty much don't have to do anything but carry your phone around to earn points on this app. It uses your location services, and every mile or two, it adds several points to your balance, which you can then exchange for various prizes, or if you want to try your luck, you can also choose to spin a slot machine to get more points (though I wouldn't suggest it, since your chances of getting more points and not losing points is extremely low).

The only major problem with this app is that it offers very little points for a lot of miles, so unless you are boarding a flight every other day to rack up those points, it might take a long time to get your reward. However, if it can get you a free lunch for just carrying around your phone, you can't really complain too much.

4. Viggle

Do you watch TV a lot? Or at least a few shows everyday? If you have your phone on you, you can use the Viggle app to get the most out of those minutes. You just tap the button in the center of the app to 'check-in' to your show. It uses the phone's microphone to verify the show, then for every minute you watch, you also get 1 point, which you can exchange for prizes or for gift cards. Like the Ride app, it takes a very long time to gather enough points to get a reward that you want, but if you watch TV anyway, this is a good way to get the most out of your time spent vegging in front of the screen.

5. mPoints Apps

mPoints uses a multitude of different apps, so you can really choose around. The biggest one is Nexercise, which allows you to track your exercises, weigh in, and just generally track your fitness, though there are other more fun apps that use mPoints, like a Flappy Bird remake or a 2048 app. Every time you complete an achievement on the app (which isn't hard to do at all), you get 3-25 points. You have to claim these points in order to officially receive them, but it isn't hard to do; you just open up the mPoints part of the app, which is usually marked by a gift icon or the mPoints logo, and claim each achievement individually. Then it will usually show you an advertisement or give you an opportunity to get even more mPoints, and you can continue doing that until you've reached your daily limit (1,000 points).

These points can get you gift cards to multiple stores, from Amazon to Walmart to even Sephora, or you can get actual prizes like a water bottle or even a Roku or Fitbit Zip. The only unfortunate thing is that you can only redeem once a week. But, if you're playing these games or tracking your fitness anyway, this can be a great way to earn some extra cash and save a little while doing it.

Do you use any of these apps?

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So there you have it. Five ways to use your iPhone apps to help you save money, all while not having to go out of your way to get the savings.

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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 

      17 months ago from Maine

      I really like Receipt Hog. I liked Viggle for awhile too, but the rewards went downhill. I'm curious about Ride and Southern Savers. I'll have to check them out.

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