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I Tried The Ibotta Cashback App And It’s Completely Changed How I Grocery Shop

Olivia Roos
September 21, 2018
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As a recent college graduate, I’m not exactly rolling in piles of money–more like piles of rent, and phone bills. Thankfully, as a staff writer for The Money Manual, I am around people all day who give me tips and tricks to help me save money.

In the past, my go to saving money strategy has been to minimize my diet to canned soup and instant ramen.  But, I decided to do my blood pressure a favor in the name of research and try out the cashback app, Ibotta my co-workers can’t stop talking about.  Given that Ibotta has paid out its users more than $275 million since it started, I was curious to see if this could be a budget win for me.

How it works

I downloaded the app onto my phone and created an account by entering my email, although I could create an account by logging into my Google or Facebook accounts.  Then I went to the account section of the app and entered my bank account information so that Ibotta would have a place to send all my cashback savings.

Once the setup process was complete, I decided to put Ibotta to the true test, by giving it a test drive in the most bougie and expensive grocery store that I could think of: Whole Foods Market.

What happened when I used Ibotta at the grocery store

Once I had searched for Whole Foods in the Ibotta app, I browsed through the neatly organised categories to find what offers I could use. By clicking on the plus icon besides each icon I added various discounts to the My Offers section of the app. After shopping, all I needed to do was scan my receipt for all the my cashback offers to be redeemed.

If, that is, I was even able to find any Whole Foods offers to redeem.

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Surprisingly though, as I scrolled over the nearly one hundred offerings, and found tons of deals to put in the My Offers tab. From $1 back on La Croix seltzer and kale chips to $4 back on a 15 pack of Blue Moon beer, I was amazed by how many useful deals I found.

In fact, the unexpected problem I ran into was that I was adding more groceries to My Offers than I actually needed. I showed restraint and didn’t buy another loaf of bread and closed my eyes as I walked by the discounted organic chocolate chips.

I walked out of the store thankfully with only the things I needed. And, when I got home and scanned my receipt, I was happy to find out that I had saved $4.50 shrinking my bill down from $32.09 to $27.59.

Although that amount may not seem like much in the long run, if I’m saving around that amount every time that I go shopping then that would add up to more than $234 of savings a year for doing basically nothing!

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I ended up getting so excited about my savings, that I spread my excitement to my roommate who also downloaded the app and used it on her shopping trip the next day. And because I had sent her my unique referral code, I earned even more credit from my roommate’s shopping trip.

What happened when I used Ibotta at a drugstore

The next day, I decided to give the app another run when I picked up a prescription at CVS.  The app was successful again, albeit, with a couple of hiccups.

I was pleased to see that I was allowed to redeem an offer for Skinny Pops, pretty much my favorite snack.

Some of the items I purchased didn’t give me cashback because I didn’t read the fine details of the offer, which required me to buy two of the item in order to get the cashback.  Obviously, this was an error on my part, but I was still a little frustrated.

In any case, I still shaved a good $1 off my $14 purchase. And that’s one more dollar that I wasn’t going to get back if I didn’t have the app with me. It did teach me to pay attention to the fine print, which could have led to even bigger savings on this trip.

Final thoughts

All in all, I did love using the app.  It was easy to use and besides some minor issues that came with learning how to use the app it helped save me a good amount of money on my shopping trips. From now on, like my keys and wallet, I’m never going to leave the house without Ibotta again.

Images: Olivia Roos For The Money Manual

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