Smartphone apps that save you money

Save money on your next shopping trip by downloading one of these cash-saving smartphone apps. 

By Marc Saltzman

Cash-saving smartphone apps
Photography by Joe Kim
Thanks to a number of free apps, saving money is now easier than ever. Here’s a look at some of the best cash-saving apps available for your smartphone.

Bar-code scanner apps save you money
A handful of free apps can be used with your smartphone’s camera to read product bar codes. Within seconds, you can see which retailer has the best price online or at the nearest retail location (via your phone’s GPS technology). Examples include Red Laser (for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone), ShopSavvy (for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone) and Barcode Scanner (for iPhone and Android).

To use these apps, simply scan a bar code of, say, a $20 DVD. You might see it’s only $13 down the street (and get turn-by-turn directions to get you there). Or you’ll find that very same movie for $10 online, with a link to buy it on the spot. Be aware, however, that some of these apps work better in Canada than others, though more and more Canadian retailers and sites are being supported on them. Be sure to do some research.

Deals and coupons are cash-saving apps too
Imagine you’re walking down the street and get an alert from your smartphone: There’s a sale on a blouse at H&M across the street. Sweet!

Apps such as RetailMeNot (for iPhone and Android), Push a Deal (for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry) and Shop to It (for iPhone) can let you know about hot sales based on your location. Shop to It also aggregates major location-based deals from organizations such as Groupon, Team Buy/Dealfind and
LivingSocial.

With many of these apps, you can also select the kinds of items you’re interested in, such as fitness apparel, pet products or consumer electronics, so you’re not constantly blasted with info on products you don’t care about. You can also disable the “push” feature to choose to manually find deals near you at a given time.

Another good pick is ShopWise Canada (for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android) by Yellow Pages Group Co. It allows you to search for nearby deals by product (e.g., “baby monitor”) or brand name (e.g.,“Samsung”), or browse by popularity or date of expiration.

Some cost-saving apps offer digital coupons too. Checkout 51 (for iPhone and Android) features coupons for all of Canada, and InstaCoupons (for iPhone and Android) has them for the Montreal area. Then there’s Stocard (for iPhone and Android), which lets you store your retail loyalty cards in one simple app.

And be sure to check if the stores you shop at most have their own apps that can push deals or coupons to your smartphone.

Online marketplaces
It’s not always the retail chains and major online retailers (such as Amazon) that have the best deals. Online marketplaces that connect buyers with sellers directly – essentially cutting out the middleman – offer great opportunities for savings too.

Consider an app like eBay’s (for all phone platforms), which links you to the world’s largest online marketplace. Once you set up your account, this easy to use app lets you browse, bid on and buy products whenever and wherever. As an added bonus, all products are shipped to your door.

If you would prefer not to pay for shipping fees, however, there are also apps for local classifieds sites that offer a large number of new and previously enjoyed products, ranging from cars to toys. You’ll have to meet the seller in person, so be sure to do it in a public place and only use cash. Apps such as Kijiji Free Local Classifieds (for iPhone and Android) and Craigslist Mobile (for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone) are free, but, like eBay, they require an account.

Looking for more ways to save money? Check out 5 ways to trick yourself into saving money. We've also got 20 fab smartphone photo apps.

This story first appeared as "Don't Worry, Be Appy" in our October 2013 issue.

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