Apps for lowering your grocery bill

Basket, iBotta are among the best
Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 17, 2017

Many of us use price-comparison apps and websites when we buy big items or plan trips.

But what about the things we buy most, like groceries? Until now, it hasn't always been easy to find the lowest price.

Comparing prices can be frustrating

Shoppers like Brooke Betz try to compare grocery prices. "It depends," she said. "Usually I will try to compare prices to see what the sales prices are," she said.

But she admitted that can be difficult to do, adding, "I don't have any apps to compare prices."

It's understandable because comparing prices for something like grapes, for instance, can be very difficult, unless a store has a sale and posts it in their weekly flier. They don't post most daily prices online unless it's an item for delivery or shipping.

Waze for groceries

Enter Andy Ellwood, one of the original employees of the popular traffic app Waze.

One day he and a co-worker said to each other, "If Waze could use crowdsourcing to spot traffic jams, what about doing the same thing in the grocery store?"

And the Basket Savings App was born. "Basket is a community of shoppers who have decided to never overpay for groceries again," Ellwood said.

Basket compares grocery prices, based on a computer algorithm of sale fliers, website listings, and member input.

How Basket saves money

"Type in this week's shopping list," Elwood explained, "and we will check all stores within 5 miles of you, tell you who carries all the products on your list and what price for each individual item."

Ellwood pulled out his weekly shopping list, which included peanut butter, milk, toilet paper, and soap. Then he launched Basket on his phone to find who had it all for less.

"Here's bagged Starbucks coffee," he said. "One nearby store has it on sale for $6.99, but another store has it for $15.27," a huge price difference.

A map on his phone showed the total cost of his shopping list, ranging from $42 at a grocery store to $66 at a chain drugstore.

Can save hundreds of dollars

Sure, it's probably not worth your time and gas money just to save a buck on a roll of paper towels, after doing a price comparison. But if you add up a whole bunch of different items and hit the store with the overall lowest price, the savings can really add up as well.

"We're talking thousands of dollars a year simply using our free app," Elwood said.

Of course, bargain hunters know that there are more established grocery apps, that have been out for a number of years.   

Other grocery savings apps

Most, like the popular app iBotta, give you cash back after the purchase.

We found Teresa Kannenberg using iBotta last summer at a Target store in Cincinnati.

"You go into Target, you buy chips, you get 20 cents when you submit your receipt," she explained, showing how she scans her weekly receipt for as much as $20 cash back per week.

Top-rated grocery-saving apps:

The most successful price-comparison grocery app so far has been Favado, though Basket hopes to take things further, thanks to the power of crowdsourcing.

Finally if you are a regular Walmart shopper be sure to download the Walmart Savings Catcher.

And if you love Target, its Cartwheel app is a must.



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“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). John Matarese reports on deals and scams so you Don't Waste Your Money. "Like" his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @JohnMatarese.