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- Shopkick: Turn this app on when you’re about to walk into a store and earn points for walking into places like Target, Best Buy, and Old Navy. You can also earn points by scanning the barcodes of specific items as you shop. Points can be redeemed for gift cards. Shopkick also provides coupons to the stores that provide walk-in points and these can be stacked with other store and manufacturer coupons. (I recommend turning this app off when not in use to conserve your battery)
- Cartwheel: This app provides coupons for items at Target. You start out with a certain amount of slots for coupons and earn more as you save money. These coupons can be combined with store and manufacturer coupons. You can use them repeatedly until they expire, usually after several months. Basic things such as milk and eggs are always on there, which is great! They also have one or two day deals with heavy discounts. The cool thing is that the app shows you which items are in the weekly ad and Cartwheel so you can combine savings. I load up my coupons when I make my grocery list and then check Cartwheel while I’m shopping if I purchase something that wasn’t on the list. They recently added a new feature where you can scan the barcode of an item and it will tell you whether or not it is on Cartwheel. (You also don’t need a smartphone to use Cartwheel. You can choose your coupons on your computer and print out the barcode; you just can’t add any coupons while you’re at the store.)
- My Starbucks Rewards: You load a Starbucks gift card onto your phone and when you use it to pay you earn stars. After 12 stars you earn a free drink. You also get a free drink on your birthday and emails with special coupons and drink promotions. Plus the app also allows you to download free songs and apps. (You don’t need the app to use My Starbucks Rewards, but you do need a Starbucks gift card)
- Dunn Bros App: This one is pretty new and is similar to Starbucks. You load money onto your phone and when you use it to pay you earn points for free drinks, plus you get a birthday drink. If you sign up now you earn a $3 credit.
- Ibotta: With this app you choose products and then complete tasks to earn cash. Tasks include trivia, watching videos, posting to Facebook, taking a poll, and more. Once you earn enough points to use offers, you purchase the selected products, submit verification of your purchases, and then you receive cash.
- Target Mobile Coupons: Sign up to receive mobile coupons from Target and you will receive coupons via text every other week or so. Just show the barcode at checkout and coupons will be applied! They can be stacked with store and manufacturer coupons. If you have an iPhone you can save the coupons to Passbook and receive a reminder to use them whenever you visit a Target store.
- Price Comparison Apps: such as Amazon Price Check, Red Laser, The Find, ShopSavvy, Price Grabber, Scan Life, and Consumr. They all work pretty much the same way and they are all free. Scan barcodes to compare prices at other stores! Also, if a store honors price matching these apps can be helpful! Use the app to identify which store has the cheaper price and visit the store’s website to show proof in order to receive the price match.
- Kindle App: See all those great deals on Kindle books but don’t want to foot the bill for a Kindle? Download the free app onto your smartphone, PC, or tablet. Now you can read the books without spending the cash for a Kindle.
- Mint: I highly recommend using Mint.com to track expenses, create budgets, and set goals. The website also provides a wealth of information about saving money, reaching goals, and more. The app made it onto this list because I find it handy to easily see all of my bank accounts and budgets in one place, especially if I’m contemplating a big purchase or an impulse buy when I’m out shopping.
- Urbanspoon: Visiting a new city and want to find a place to eat, without breaking the bank? You can select the type of food and a price range and Urbanspoon will let you know what’s nearby! That way there are no surprises when you choose a place and then see the prices on the menu.
- Wrapp: Send and receive free gift cards with this app! Most gift cards about $5, but they are legitimate.
- Notepad Apps: Any sort of notepad app is a great place to put a shopping list so that you can be sure you stick with it! Also include other reminders of what is on sale at which stores. Another use for this app is to start a Thirty-Day list. If there is an item I really want, I add it to the list and annotate the date that I added it. After thirty days have passed, if I still really want the item, I purchase it. This is a great way to curb impulse purchases and having a notepad in your pocket makes it that much easier.
Your smartphone can really be a toolbox for getting the best deal. I hope these suggestions help you maximize your savings while you’re out shopping! Sometimes the toughest part is simply remembering to use them…