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How to use IFTTT recipes to save money

Get free stuff and control your electricity bill with IFTTT.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Often, you have to choose: Would you rather save time, or money? Is saving $1 worth the extra 10 minutes of work? Well, what if you could save money automatically -- but setting up IFTTT to perform money-saving tasks?

IFTTT, or "If This, Then That," is an automation tool that connects devices, apps, and social networks together so you can automate actions. The service lets you set up "recipes" -- trigger actions ("If This"), which trigger actions ("Then That") automatically. You can use IFTTT recipes to pick up convenient tasks that would otherwise take up valuable seconds of your time, such as uploading photos you take on your iPhone to Dropbox, or switching on your Hue lightbulbs when you bring your Android phone into a geofenced area.

If time is money, IFTTT definitely saves you time. But let's go a step further -- here are five IFTTT recipes that will help you directly save money.

1. Get free apps

Want to know when premium apps go free in the App Store? Use this IFTTT recipe to get a notification on your iPhone when top apps drop from paid to free (Android users can use this IFTTT recipe to get a similar notification when top Google Play apps drop from paid to free).

2. Get free stuff

Maybe apps aren't your thing. Here's a recipe that notifies you of new free stuff available on Craigslist in your area, while this recipe sends you a link to free Steam games posted on Reddit's /r/GameDeals board. This recipe sends you a message with a link to the free Google Play Music song of the day, and this recipe sends you an email with a list of free eBooks from Reddit's /r/FreeEBooks board.

3. Control your thermostat

If you've installed a Nest thermostat, you can keep your electricity bill to a minimum by making sure it's not heating or cooling your house when you're not there with this IFTTT recipe (use this recipe if you have an Android device). You can also use an IFTTT recipe to automatically turn off the air conditioning when it's cool outside (regardless of inside temp).

4. Turn the lights off

It doesn't make a lot of sense for me to put my Hue light bulbs on a schedule, because my schedule is never the same. But because I can't put my bulbs on a schedule, I often end up leaving my lights on when I leave the house. This IFTTT recipe will turn off your Hue lights automatically when you leave the house (use this recipe if you have an Android device).

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