These savings programs work because you don’t have to

You can save money if you clip coupons, become a member of a rewards club, and do a lot of other things that take time and effort — both of which are in short supply these days. Besides, many rewards programs require you to carry around those annoying plastic key tags. Instead, you can take advantage of technology that does the work for you. For the past few months, I’ve been using two such technological advances and I’ve found they work well, save me money and are about as effortless as you can get. Oh, and it’s all free. Cha ching!

The first is Key Ring, an app available in both the Android and Apple app stores. Initial setup takes some effort, of course, but it pays off well in the long run. You’re required to set up a Cellfire account, which then allows you to enter your current rewards program key tabs. If you initiate the app on  your phone, you can simply scan the barcodes and it will enter all the information for you. After that, the program is relatively maintenance free. You just open it up periodically and “clip” the coupons that are offered. Here’s where the easy part comes in. Once you clip the coupon, it is added to your rewards program account and the coupons are automatically deducted from your bill when you shop at that store and use your savings card. If you’re so inclined, it will even produce a shopping list for you based on the coupons you’ve clipped.

For example, one of the grocery stores I shop at is Kroger. Their  tag has been dangling off my keychain for a few years now and, overall, the card is worth it because of the instant savings it offers. But now, because I’ve connected that rewards card to my Key Ring app and Cellfire account, I can clip coupons that are electronically stored on my rewards card. When I go to the check out, I simply enter my ID number and scan my groceries. When the order is totaled, Kroger takes off its instant savings and the Cellfire account deducts my electronic coupons. Cha ching!

You’re supposed to be able to scan the program tag’s bar code straight from your phone, but I’ve found some of the scanners don’t like to read the phone screen, so I just punch in the numbers. It’s not that difficult and worth the savings. Plus, this should solve the problem of the dozens of coupons that get clipped, hung on my refrigerator, and then periodically thrown away because I never remember to grab them on the way to the store.

As a bonus, the Shell gas stations in town have a deal  with Kroger so that as your grocery purchases add up, they can result in a discount for gasoline. So, for example, I have shopped at Kroger more because of the Key Ring/Cellfire program. I saved money I wouldn’t have normally because I had electronic coupons available for my purchases and because I’ve shopped at Kroger more, my total spending there has added up. When I entered the program code at the gas pump, I saved 10 cents per gallon. Cha ching!

It’s easy, it’s relatively effortless, and it finally gives me a rewards program that I find more rewarding than annoying.

The second program I’ve found some limited success with is the new connection between Foursquare and American Express. You can now register your American Express credit card with your Foursquare account, which allows you to receive discounts and special deals at businesses if you check in there. For example, a car wash near me had a deal for Small Business Saturday that if you checked in on Foursquare and purchased a pack of washes with your American Express card, you received a statement credit. The washes there start at $6.50 each. Thanks to this new Foursqaure/Amex partnership and a bulk discount from the car wash, I am getting $32.50 worth of washes for $2.50. Cha ching!

I can’t wait to see what will happen with the Foursquare/Amex partnership as more businesses catch on to the benefits of offering special deals for people who are tech savvy and take advantage of being connected. The businesses that will be the most successful in the next few years are the ones who have figured out that their consumers are mobile, so the deals should be, too.

I think I covered the basics on these two programs, but if you have questions or concerns, drop me a line in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help. If you’re good to go, then I encourage you to take advantage of the technology. It’s as if a little money tree is sprouting on your phone and all you need to do is pluck the leaves.  🙂

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