The Short Answer
I am not an extreme couponer, not even close. Over the past year, I decided to try out some grocery rebate apps on my phone as well as a couple of coupon apps to see how much money I could save. The short answer? Not much. If you don’t want to make the effort, then don’t even worry about reading this post at all. Whether it’s really worth it or not should be negligible if you are already doing everything you can to save with the other 6 posts I wrote. Coupons and rebates are mostly overrated, but they can save you a little bit.
First, about coupons. I tried to use some online paper ones but always forgot them, let them expire, or had a printer than ran out of ink or was not aligned properly. I’d say don’t waste your time. I tried a couple of apps that used coupons for this purpose.
I don’t recommend Grocery IQ because it only saved me about $15, mostly on cereals, name-brand razors…and that’s it. It takes a long time to scroll through 600-ish coupons every week, so I don’t recommend doing that unless you want to do a search for a specific thing that you like to buy name-brand. Then you still have to print it and remember to use it before it expires. It’s too much of a pain for me.
I highly recommend Smith’s (or any other Kroger store app). It saved me almost $90 over the year, the app is very easy to use, and there’s something completely free every Friday. Because I registered with the website, Smith’s sends me paper coupons for things I’ve bought before. Sometimes they are for free things that are actually quite valuable (free Silk almondmilk, which usually costs $3, for example.) Most of the coupons are digital, so that means they’re already loaded to my card. All I have to do is scan it when I shop, and the coupons are applied automatically. It’s so easy.
Now for rebates. They are a little more annoying to use, but that depends greatly on the app.
I don’t recommend Checkout 51. The app did not have a lot a lot of rebates for things I buy. I never got to cash out because the cash out amount is $20 and I only earned $9 this year.
I highly recommend iBotta because it’s easy to use and earn money. iBotta offers lots of bonuses, and I earned several this year without hardly trying. There are always rebates for “any brand” items and produce. Receipts are easy to scan if they have a QR code at the bottom (like Walmart, where I buy most of my food.) Disadvantages include having to scan barcodes on some things and waiting to cash out at $20, but it usually doesn’t take too long to earn that much. I earned $65 this year from iBotta, so I think it’s worth the time.
I highly recommend Savings Catcher from Walmart. It is extremely easy to use. Just scan the QR code on the Walmart receipt after shopping. For that reason alone, I recommend it. It hasn’t saved me as much as iBotta (only $32 over 2 years), but it’s worth using because of how easy it is. Update in 2019: Savings Catcher is being discontinued soon. Too bad!
I possibly recommend Mobisave. Though there aren’t as many rebates available, you get your money automatically every time and don’t have to wait to accumulate a certain amount. “Any brand” rebates aren’t worth much, but there are a few good offers every week. I saved about $14 with this app, but again, the money is already in my account without having to wait to earn a certain amount.
I possibly recommend SavingStar. You get to cash out at $5, but there are not as many offers. Sometimes there are offers for things I use (like diapers, toilet paper) worth $5 alone, and I like that.
There are a few apps I tried for a little while but gave up because they were obviously not worth my time: Favado, ReceiptHog, Snap, Shrink, and Shopmium.
Total Savings This Year
My total savings this year were about $200, which is a savings of about 4%. Again, if you don’t feel like making the effort, then don’t even bother because it doesn’t make a huge difference. The main motivating factor for me was setting up a PayPal account for the rebate funds. With those savings, I was able to save up for a nice, new blender. (They helped but didn’t provide 100% of the money I used.) Anyway, it’s a lot like collecting pennies in a jar: not too fast, but it does add up over time. I plan on using my rebate money for something else big in a few years.
Update in 2019: I haven’t used rebates in a while because grocery shopping just got too difficult for me while I was pregnant last year. I still use digital coupons on occasion and the paper ones from Smith’s.