Saving Money on Everyday Shopping with Your iPhone
iPhones are an expensive investment, but with judicious use of certain apps and a little effort they can also help you save money on things you buy regularly.
CouponingCoupons are great. You hand the cashier a magic slip of paper and they deduct money from your bill. But unless you’re going to subscribe to a coupon clipping service or dedicate a lot of our own time, it takes a lot of luck, time and planning to locate coupons for the products you need when you want to purchase them.
Mobile apps won’t make coupons magically appear for the products you need, but they will drastically cut down your time searching. By personalizing your account, a mobile couponing app can pull up the online coupons available for only the stores and/or product categories in which you are interested. Save.ca and Ebates are such two popular Canadian apps. Just be sure to check your store’s coupon policy before shopping as certain stores still won’t accept mobile-only manufacturer’s coupons, requiring that they be printed.
Consumer loyalty programs can help you earn coupons, cash discounts and/or rewards at the stores you frequent most. It seems like every store from Superstore to Sephora, and London Drugs to Mable Slab Creamery has a loyalty program these days. Annoyingly however, they all use different cards and these must be presented at the time of sale for points to be awarded.
Instead of carrying a bulging wallet or risk missing out on points because you’re not carrying the card you need, you can employ the iPhone’s Wallet feature to store your loyalty cards digitally. For any cards not recognized by Wallet, third-party apps can help. Key Ring and StoCards are two such popular programs. These apps also go a step farther than Wallet, giving you to access to exclusive offers and coupons or allowing you to search and pin deals at your favourite stores.
Many loyalty programs now even offer their own apps for iPhone. In these, you can load personalized offers to your card, browse rewards and check your account status. The apps can also send you push notifications regarding upcoming sales and new product releases.
Price matching can save you money off your purchase, gas and time. To encourage you to shop with them, many stores will match their competitors’ pricing. In Canada, these include Best Buy, Real Canadian Superstore, Home Depot, SportChek, Staples and… Simply Computing! The catch, however, is that you must show the competitor’s flyer at the time of purchase.Having to present a flyer can be a real barrier if you don’t receive them in the mail or have time to search for them on the Internet. The free Flipp app for iPhone solves this problem. With flyers for over 1000 retailers uploaded regularly, you can browse all your favourite stores’ ads or even search specifically for what you need. If you find something you want to price match, just show the cashier the image on your iPhone screen. Flipp even has a cache system so you don’t need a data plan or for the store to have free Wifi to pull up a flier.
Rebates are like couponing backwards. You can save money on a product but only by first paying for it in full and then following certain steps to submit proof of that purchase, usually in the form of a receipt or product barcode. Traditionally, rebates involved filling out a form, photocopying your receipt, mailing in your claim and waiting weeks, if not months, for a reimbursement cheque to arrive in the mail. Due to this labour intensiveness, rebates were limited to high-ticket items and often nothing more than a sales ploy as consumers were apt to not follow-through.
Mobile cash-back apps drastically reduce the time and effort it takes to rebate and have encouraged retailers to offer rebates, albeit small ones, on everyday items. Checkout51 and Save.ca are two such apps in Canada for grocery and pharmacy purchases. Once you’ve set up an account, you may begin submitting receipts directly in the app with the help of your iPhone’s camera. The only downside is that you must reach a minimum total before the service will cash out your savings. Since the rebate amounts are generally small, it can sometimes take a while to reach this minimum amount.
Coupon stacking (using more than one coupon per item) can’t be done in Canada like it can in the United States. (You can search “extreme couponing” if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) However, you can leverage more than of these techniques per purchase to increase your savings. So theoretically, you could use a manufacturer’s coupon on a price matched item while collecting loyalty points and then apply for a cash-back rebate. Quadruple savings!
That’s all from us for this week. We hope you enjoyed learning about just some of the ways your smartphone can help you save on your day to day expenses. For more on how having an iPhone can help with your finances, check out our blog on Apple Pay. As always, stay tuned for more great tech tips from the Simply blog!
By Danica Wong
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