We put 3 free money-saving apps to the test

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — I love getting money for nothing. Who doesn’t? So often, we hear about products that claim great things will happen if you just download, buy, or test them out.

The same can be said for the wide world of mobile applications, or apps. How many times have you heard “there’s an app for that”?

One crowded space in this world of apps are money-saving apps. These types of apps claim you’ll save money on clothing, groceries, devices, you name it.

Since we all have to shop for groceries, wouldn’t be amazing if we could actually believe the claim: “Yes! You’ll save money on your groceries by simply using our app!”

So that’s where I went to work. I wanted to narrow down a list of dozens of money-saving grocery apps to three – and see how they performed.

So buckle up, we’re headed to the grocery store.

We tested three, free apps that claim to save you cash: iBotta, Saving Star and Shopkick.

First up, ibotta.

“ibotta is an app that’s completely free to download and you check it before you go to the grocery store or other stores that are available,” says Lisa Rowan a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder in St. Petersburg.

The Penny Hoarder is a collection of bright minds who scour the web for deals. ibotta and Saving Star are their partners – so they knew a lot about how they operated.

I downloaded ibotta to my iPhone, registered an account and immediately started to unlock certain deals. Basically, I was looking for things I could possibly be interested in buying based on the items they were offering. So, if I saw some sunscreen I would have purchased in the past, or consider purchasing, I just click the symbol to unlock it.

Once I unlocked everything of interest, we went shopping.

I purchased about eight items that contained rebates. Normally, you probably wouldn’t want to buy most of what they offer – but once we looked at all the groceries we bought, I was convinced I would have purchased these items regardless. If you are able to sway you brands, the payoff can be pretty good.

“I’ve used ibotta myself and I’ve saved up to $5 that I have gotten back in a single shopping trip, Lisa says.

You figure a person who grocery shops each week – an extra $20 a month in savings isn’t too bad!

Back to shopping – while we were unlocking deals in the car on iBotta’s app, I also downloaded the Saving Star app. I registered a free account and started activating deals.

Saving Star is very similar to iBotta. There aren’t nearly as many products to choose from, but something I noticed that was interesting is that if you like to buy in bulk, say 3 to 4 bottles of laundry detergent, you will save more money.

That’s exactly what we did. The other half of our grocery list was items we activated on Saving Star. We bought several boxes of cereal (great for families with kids) and several bottles of laundry detergent, among other items.

The cash savings was higher with Saving Star because of…

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