Centsible Saver

A coupon app for the tech-savvy bargain hunter

adunn@newsobserver.comNovember 3, 2012 

Editor’s note: For daily tips on saving money, check out the Centsible Saver blog on newsobserver.com. Amy Dunn writes every day about coupons, saving money and frugal living. Below are recent excerpts from her blog.

If you want to trim your grocery budget, but don’t have the time or inclination to clip coupons, you’re in luck. There’s an app for that.

Called Ibotta, the iPhone app is aimed at tech-savvy bargain hunters looking to save a little cash on their supermarket purchases.

Instead of clipping paper coupons, Ibotta users collect their discounts by playing with their smartphones.

So far, three of the biggest American retailers have signed on to allow their customers to use Ibotta: Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

The discounts are similar to paper coupons – 25 cents here and 75 cents there.

But instead of using scissors to clip, shoppers use their smartphones to take polls, watch short videos, read recipes and post their allegiance to brands on their Facebook walls. Each activity adds an additional discount.

You can do as many or as few of the activities as you wish. So if you’re squeamish about turning your Facebook feed into one big commercial for grocery products, you can opt out of those offers.

There’s another big difference between Ibotta coupons and the old-fashioned kind.

The money you save isn’t taken off at the cash register. Instead, Ibotta will send the savings to your PayPal account. Or you can opt to donate your savings to any school. One cool feature is that you can use a paper coupon and an Ibotta coupon on a single product to save even more.

For example, at Target last week, I purchased Lady Speed Stick deodorant for $2.19. I used a $1 paper coupon and got an extra nickel off for using a cloth bag. My out-of-pocket expense: $1.33 with tax. My Ibotta discount: $1.25. Final cost: 8 cents.

One pitfall: To cash in, you must scan your paper receipt and upload it to Ibotta. It’s not difficult, and it only takes a minute to complete on your smartphone, but that’s assuming you remember to do it AND you don’t lose the receipt.

For more information on Ibotta, go to Ibotta.com/about.

Digital coupon calendar

The 2013 Chick-fil-A calendar still sports its trademark cows, but the familiar coupons for free food at the bottom of each page are missing.

The 12 paper coupons have been replaced by a single plastic coupon card. Activate the card with a valid email address and 12 free offers will be digitally loaded onto the card.

The $6 calendars, which went on sale this month, are already available in some Chick-fil-A stores around the Triangle.

The good news about Chick-fil-A’s digital coupons: You don’t have to keep track of a stack of 12 coupons, you can sign up to receive coupon reminders, and if you lose the card, it can be replaced.

The company is also hinting there may be bonus offers throughout the year.

The bad news: Each of the 12 coupons must be redeemed during the month it’s issued. If you forget to use a digital coupon one month, it disappears. That’s significant because many Chick-fil-A restaurants have routinely accepted expired calendar coupons in the past.

For all the fine print on Chick-fil-A’s digital coupons, check out the FAQ page at chick-fil-a.com.

Free coffee

Hey, coffee fans. Here’s a freebie to mark on your calendar: Bruegger’s Bagels is giving away free cups of coffee to everyone on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Free Coffee Day, an annual event, runs from opening until 2 p.m.

While the coffee is free, customers will be encouraged to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Canisters to collect spare change will be near the registers. Last year, more than $30,000 was collected on Free Coffee Day.

Dunn: 919-829-4522

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