Shopping app Flipp can help you save money

 Woman checking shopping list on her smartphone at supermarket

I know there are dozens of highly-rated shopping apps out there, but until now I’ve been quite happy with a scribbled list, and ads torn out of the paper when I see a great deal. But since we cancelled our paper newspaper subscriptions (see How cancelling our newspapers is saving us $500+/year) earlier this year I don’t even get to see most ad supplements with weekly or seasonal sales.

So when in a recent blog Squawkfox mentioned the Flipp app which can be downloaded for free on BlackBerry, Apple and Android devices, I decided to take it for a test drive. I initially downloaded it to my smartphone, but I must confess I found it much easier to use on a larger tablet. That’s why I like that any items saved to a shopping list or as a favorite syncs between devices.

The way it works is you first log in using your postal code. Then you get a screen with thumbprints of flyers from stores in your area. In my case, I live near the Yonge and Finch subway in Toronto and I got a list of 103 available flyers. This list is updated very frequently, and as I write this blog, there is a note in the top right hand corner that the most recent update was 45 minutes ago.

I searched for Longo’s and Sobey’s where I shop for groceries most often, opened the flyers and saved them to my “favourites” list by tapping the heart in the lower right corner of the screen. Then I opened each flyer with a tap and “clipped” several items to a list on a separate screen. I could also check off a box that would notify me when clippings expire soon and when I’m near a store with groceries on my clipped list.

There are other convenient features of Flipp not available with paper flyers. You can search by store, company or product name (such as Best Buy, Apple or iPad Air, respectively) and there’s also a handy “discount finder” that lets you slide a bar left or right to only see deals by percentage off the full price (such as 5% to 50% off).

Furthermore, once you bring up the ad, there is also a “send” feature that will allow you to post the ad on social media or send it to someone by email. This is particularly useful if you want family or friends to know about great sales you come across.

Like any new piece of software, Flipp takes some getting used to and the interfaces on smartphone and tablet are slightly different. But it’s really fun to use and a great way to compare prices. For example, I thought fresh raspberries on sale at Longo’s for 2/$4 were a great deal until I checked Food Basics (which is actually just across the street) where both fresh raspberries and blueberries are 3/$5.

While I have tested flipp using comparisons between grocery items, there were flyers for a whole series of shopping categories including electronics, fashion, pets, sports and office items.

Until now I never spent a lot of time comparing prices because I didn’t need to. But as we look ahead to living on a fixed income in retirement we will have to find ways to trim our  budget. Using Flipp and other shopping apps will help us do this without carrying around piles of newsprint or  clipping and filing stacks of coupons.

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