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April 7, 2013

An app that reminds you when you're due a discount

(Continued)

Because of a reciprocity agreement between the museums, Hammerman saved $60, but only because he happened to remember to ask. Most of the time, consumers forget to ask.

Automatic reminder

"That's what I want Larky to do, I want Larky to pop up when I walk into a place where I've got a discount and remind me of the deal."

Larky's mobile app for the iPhone -- an Android app is in the works -- does exactly that. First, you enter all the memberships, credit cards and insurance you have -- just general information, no numbers or sensitive information. For example you might enter Visa, America Express, Aetna, AAA, AARP, etc. Larky does the rest.

"Once you tell us what things you are a member of we put together a dashboard that you can either browse through or check by category, asking what restaurants will give you a discount," Hammerman said. "Or you can do it by geography, saying 'I'm going on a trip to Washington, DC, what do I have there?' You'll pretty quickly see what hotels will give you a discount, where you can save money at restaurants and what museums or attractions will provide a discount."

Discounts large and small

The discounts can add up. If you ate at restaurants that gave you a 10 percent or 15 percent discount, that's a small savings. But a lot of alumni associations have discount arrangement with car companies. Savings there can be substantial.

"If you are a member of the University of Michigan Alumni Association you get a discount on Ford cars that's equivalent to about $1,500 off a car," Hammerman said.

Hammerman said his research showed only about 100 people took advantage of that discount in 2011, suggesting a lot more either forgot or never knew. But when you download Larky and walk into a Ford showroom, the app will automatically notify you that you can get a discount.

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