Saturday, May 30, 2015

Penny Pinching Post: Ibotta

My latest "nesting obsession" this pregnancy has been trying to become more frugal with our everyday expenses.  I've been keeping up an accurate record this year of where all our money actually goes, and not surprisingly, the most expensive section each month is our grocery bill.  Feeding two growing boys, one man that can still eat like a teenager, a dog, a cat, and a pregnant lady is expensive!  I'm talking $665 a month on average.  And that's not accounting for a meal or two each week from restaurants, ($57.50 a week on average).  Or, the fact that we get a ton of fresh meat from my parents for free.

After I spent a good amount of time comparing prices at stores during my "stock up" obsession, I started looking for ways I could get our grocery dollars to stretch farther, since almost 10% of our income is being spent in this category.  And I found... IBOTTA!  I love this app.  I'm talking, tell-everyone-about-it-because-it-is-awesome, LOVE IT.  I really love saving bits of money.  So, here is my first of several posts coming to you about ways to save a little bit of cash, in case you have the time and inclination to do so.

Ibotta is a simple app you can find for free in your app store.  There are three main steps to using the app:

1.  First, find products, unlock them, and add to your grocery list.  I check the app when I am making my grocery list each week, and I unlock any items that I would normally buy anyway, and consider stocking up on anything know I will use them in the future.  While lots of the items are "name brand" products that give you higher rebates, there are plenty of "any brand" items that you can purchase as well for smaller rebates.  To unlock the rebate, you will complete a simple task, like watching a video clip, answering a survey question, or learning a fact about the project.  Very quick, but can take a few minutes if you find lots of products to unlock.  Most products can be purchased anywhere, but Walmart shoppers will be especially pleased as they have many products exclusive to their store.  They seem to have extra specials and bonuses around the holidays, and I joined right before Memorial Day so I took advantage of many of them.

Some examples:

If your grocery is one of their preferred partners, all you need to do now is shop.  You won't have to do step 2 or 3, as your shopper's loyalty card will send the information on to Ibotta and you are done!  My store, Food Lion, works this way.  But, when I head to Target or Wegman's on occasion, the following steps are needed.

2.  Shop and scan!  While shopping, or after you get home, you will simply scan in the items that you want to redeem, using your phone.  I suggest doing it while shopping if you are by yourself, but if you're shopping with two little boys you may want to wait until you're home for this part.

3.  Send the receipt.  Using your camera on your phone, you will simply take a picture of your receipt and you are done.  Within a few hours I normally get confirmation that the rebate has gone through and the money is in my account.  Once you get a certain amount, you can cash out or trade in for gift cards (I'm redeeming for Amazon gift cards, as it's quicker and pretty much like cash to me).

Some of my receipts:


I just signed up for this a few weeks ago, and I earned over $40 back in my first month!  I'm hoping it's not just beginner's luck, and that I can continue to find products that fit into my family's diet.

Some tips from a new user:
 Bonuses:  Check the bonuses!  You can get extra dollars or extra rebates offers just by keeping an eye out for bonus offers.
Rebates Return:  The rebates come back!  I've noticed sometimes the rebates will reappear in my list after I have already used them.  Especially for the "any brand" items like milk, cheese, pasta, and produce.  So you can use them several times.  But do watch the expiration dates.

Coupons:  Add coupons!  Lots of the name brand items being featured also have coupons out at the same time, especially if they are new or seasonal.  I print coupons off from websites, and stacked with the Ibotta deals they are way cheaper than buying off brand items.

Beyond Food:  Going beyond food specifically, there are lots of rebates for non-food items too.  Some deals you can only get online, like spending over $100 at Nike, and getting $20 back!!  Hurry before that deal expires.

Some restaurants even offer rebates, like one of my favorites, Quiznos (and you can use coupons here!)

Since we're Potty training, I saw these Pampers Training Pants and realized I'd have to get them.  I found a coupon online for a couple dollars off, got $3 off using Ibotta, and found the best price for these at Target.  Ended up paying less than half price for them, and made my monthly bonuses!  And having Thomas on them is way better than the generic varieties in terms of motivating my toddler.  And cheaper in this case!!!  I used this rebate twice!

Teammates:  If you connect through facebook, you should find a list of teammates who already are using the app from your facebook friends.  Working together, you can earn up to $10 in bonuses each month with no extra effort (at least May was that way, we'll see about next month's bonuses).

So, go get money back on the food you're probably already buying, by following this referral link if you want to get started!

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