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Score major savings on groceries with an easy smartphone strategy

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You can score major savings on grocery items you already purchase regularly using your smartphone, thanks to shopping applications like Ibotta, Paribus, and Checkout 51.

Ibotta, for example, works by picking up your location and displaying current offers in your area or at the retailers you shop at the most. You can filter by store and location or search for a specific items.

If you're shopping in-store, scan a product's bar code to see any available store-specific deals or manufacturer's coupons. Add the item to your cart on the application, then scan and upload your receipt to the application to verify your purchase and begin earning your money back. For instance, the app offers $2 back on a 6- or 12-pack of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong toilet paper, which ranges from $6.48 to $12.24.

Other apps like Paribus save you money by keeping track of your purchases via your email inbox. The app scans for receipts in your email and negotiates with online retailers to refund the difference if there is a price drop in an item you bought shortly after you make a purchase.

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Once you reach $20 worth of refunds in your Ibotta account, you can withdraw your money from the application and deposit the funds into your PayPal or Venmo account, or redeem the rewards for gift cards. With Paribus, you are credited funds directly onto the original form of payment or provided the equivalent amount in store credit.

"The credits add up really fast," says Grant Sabatier of millennialmoney.com, who says he has saved about $700 on groceries in the last year, "Oftentimes you're saving between 50 cents and $3 [on each item], so after one or two trips, you're able to get that credit, and you get credit for inviting your friends."

Perks and drawbacks of shopping apps

Sabatier suggests that shoppers can maximize their savings by pairing these apps with other cash-back applications and coupon browser extensions like Wikibuy and Honey. Some of these allow you to link any loyalty cards you may have with their retailers to maximize your savings.

"You can add products that you like, and based on your shopping patterns and the things you've purchased before, you can see what products are on sale," says Sabatier.

Your time is your money, however, and it might not be worth it if you're chasing small-scale bargains at multiple different stores.

Sabatier cautions against careless spending, too: Make sure you're purchasing products your actually need. Just because an item is on sale, or there's a coupon for it, doesn't mean you should buy it.

"Whenever you're told to save money by spending money, you should always be skeptical. It can be a slippery slope," says Sabatier. "But if these apps are saving you money on things that you are already going to buy, then you should totally use them."

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