Many of us use price comparison apps or websites when we are buying a new car, a vacuum cleaner, or an HDTV.
But what about the things we buy most, such as 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 admits that can be difficult to do, since she admits, "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 so the Basket Savings App was born. "Basket is a community of shoppers who have decided to never overpay for groceries again," he said.
Elwood is now the co-founder of Basket, which is to groceries what Kayak is to airfares, and Trip Advisor is to hotel rooms.
It compares 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."
In the Cincinnati market, it looks at Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, as well as drugstores like CVS and Walgreens, and even dollar stores.
He showed his weekly shopping list, which included "peanut butter, my milk, toilet paper, and bath wash."
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. (We are not listing the stores here because prices have most likely changed since the day he did his test).
A map on his phone showed the total cost of his shopping list, ranging from $42 at a grocery store store to $66 at a chain drugstore, all within 5 miles of our location in Oakley.
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 the western hills Target store.
"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 include:
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.
All of these are free so you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
Sign up for John's free Newsletter by clicking here
You can save on local dining, tickets and attractions with WCPO Insider. Get access to a Digital Premium Subscription of the Washington Post and original storytelling by our award-winning journalists.