This Woman Saved $307.60 Without Clipping Coupons. Here’s How

Ibotta review
Colleen Rice, TPH email marketing specialist, has been using Ibotta since she moved to Florida and she's earned back more than $300. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
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Life can sometimes seem like an endless cycle of picking up and dropping off kids, going to work, throwing together a quick dinner and somehow fitting in laundry and a glass of wine — on your good nights.

Clipping coupons? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The average American family of four spends between $550 to $1,100 per month on groceries, according to USDA data as of July 2016.

That’s not an insignificant fraction of most of our paychecks, and the figure only climbs if your children are over the age of six.

Luckily, we’ve got a clever way to keep your grocery bill much closer to the low end of the spectrum — and well out of four-figure territory. *shudder*

An Alternative to Clipping Coupons

Anyone who has ever cut coupons knows how extremely rare it is to find a coupon on staples like milk, bread and eggs. It’s sad, but most coupons are for processed foods that aren’t good for your health — or your budget.

Which is why we LOVE the smartphone app, Ibotta.

Ibotta is a rebate app that very cleverly allows you to take a picture of your grocery store receipt. In return, they give you cash rebates on your purchases.

Many of the rebates are for healthy foods and the best part is that in some cases, you don’t even have to buy a specific brand. For example, this week they’re offering a 20-cent rebate when you buy an onion. Any onion. Any brand. Any size.

Cool, right?

For Colleen Rice, the benefits of using Ibotta obvious.

“It kept me from living on Ramen,” she says.

The Penny Hoarder email marketing manager says she’s been using the cash-back app Ibotta since 2013 and has earned $307.60 back so far.

When she and her then-boyfriend moved to Florida that year, Rice says, “We were so broke … It’s really helped me a lot.”

Although she’s made it through that tough time, she still uses the app religiously. She loves that she’s earning cash back on something she’d be doing anyway (spending money).

How to Maximize the Savings

The app isn’t just for saving money on groceries, though Rice loves deal-stacking at Publix and Target.

She’s also used Ibotta to earn cash back at places like Jo-Ann Fabrics (when she went through a jewelry-making phase) and Hotels.com, where she earned about $45 back during one road trip.

“If you can make anything a challenge, I like that,” she says. “Plus it’s more portable than coupons, and it introduces me to brands I’d otherwise not try.”

Here’s How to Use Ibotta

1. Download the free app and sign up.

2. Peruse cash-back offers.

ibotta review - screenshot of cash back offers

Like Rice has discovered, Ibotta is a great way to find cash back not only on grocery staples but also at online retailers and through travel sites. She also uses it to discover new brands. For example, she only bought Viva paper towels before downloading the app. But if she can get $3 back on a pack of Bounty, why not?

3. If you’re shopping in store, add offers to your account before heading out. Do this by tapping the little plus sign next to the offer.

ibotta review - screenshot of online shopping cash back offers

If you’re shopping online, shop through the Ibotta portal. For example, open the Etsy offer, then tap “Shop.” It’ll redirect you to the site.

4. After you check out in the store, redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt and scanning barcodes, when applicable. Within 48 hours, Ibotta will deposit the money into your account.

ibotta review - screenshot of prompt to upload receipt

If you’re shopping online, Ibotta will let you know the timeframe in which your money will be deposited into your account.

5. Once you hit $20, you can cash out through PayPal or Venmo. You can also opt to receive your rewards as a gift card.

Alternatively, you can link any of your store loyalty cards to get automatic cash back after you add offers to your account and check out. No scanning barcodes or taking photos of receipts required.

Easy, peasy.

This post was originally published here.