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How This Mom Saves $5,000 a Year on Groceries With Her Smartphone

Feeding five daughters on a budget is a full-time job. But one mom has found a way to slash her grocery bill just by using smartphone apps.
Food and rent prices increased last month, offsetting lower gasoline prices, the Labor Department says.
A.J. Wynne loads groceries onto the belt as his mother Becky Wynne holds baby Henry, at a Giant store in Silver Spring, Md. Food and rent prices increased last month, offsetting lower gasoline prices, the Labor Department says.Jacquelyn Martin / ASSOCIATED PRESS

How would you like to slash your grocery bill by $5,000 a year - just by shopping with your smartphone?

For Jenny Martin and her husband, feeding five daughters on a budget is a full-time job.

"It can be a little overwhelming to keep enough food stocked in the pantry and fridge, to handle, ‘Mama I'm hungry!’ all the time!” Martin told NBC News.

To help cut down on the family's annual grocery budget, she turned to one of the many new mobile apps that claim to cut grocery bills in half. With these apps, Martin said her family can save as much as $5,000 a year.

The average family of four spends about $250 a week on groceries, but savings experts say much of that can be cut down with new mobile phone applications.

"For our family of seven, a weekly budget for us is now $75 or less,” Martin told NBC News.

Some of the most popular deal apps include: SavingStar, iBotta, Checkout51, and MobiSave.

Martin took NBC News on a shopping trip to show first hand how she saves money. At the register, her original total for 16 items came out to $47.25. But, using mobile apps, she saved $37.00. Her final total was just $10.30.

However, securing such savings does take time, Martin admitted.

"For me to get together a big shopping trip, I will usually spend about 45 minutes making sure I have the mobile apps lined up and sales lined up,” she said.

And, privacy experts warn that these mobile deals come at a price: Like most apps, electronic coupon services collect personal information about your shopping and social media habits.

"Typically what they're doing is collecting data from consumers and repackaging and reselling that information to retailers," says Lauren Lyons Cole, money editor at Consumer Reports. “As a consumer, you want to consider the value of that to you before you start using one of these apps - and if it's not worth the amount that you're saving, take the app off your smartphone.”

Martin is such a believer, she's started a website to share tips with other families.

Her biggest advice for families is to start small.

“Focus on the things that you regularly purchase," she advised. "Don't feel like you need to run out and grab things you wouldn't normally grab, but focus on them when they're on sale, and then start to pair in all those offers that we have."