Best Apps for Saving Big (and Small) Bucks

Hate clipping coupons and searching for better prices? Put these apps to work for you.

By Liane Cassavoy

I like to shop. Though it’s not always good for my bottom line, it’s fun—and sometimes necessary. But I also like to save money, and I’m always looking for help in doing so. Here are a few apps that do just that.

Cartwheel by Target

Target’s tag line may be, “Expect More, Pay Less,” but I was paying more than I should have until a friend turned me on to this app. Available for Android and iOS, Cartwheel lets you browse available discounts on items available in stores. You can see deals by category or deals that the app selects for you based on your past purchases. The deals aren’t always big—5 percent off your favorite hand soap won't pay for a cup of coffee—but Cartwheel keeps track of your savings over time, and the ongoing total can build up into something pretty darn impressive. Cartwheel offers deals on products you may actually want to buy—and not just cleaning products. This week, for example, I found 10 percent off the Apple Watch, the iPad Mini, and the iPad Air 2. Those gadgets may not keep my hands clean, but they sure will keep me entertained.

ShopSavvy

Shop Savvy

It’s not always easy to tell; whether the price in front of you is a good deal or an indifferent on, even if the seller claims that it represents a significant markdown. ShopSavvy can help. This app scans the barcode of the product in question and searches local stores and online retailers for their prices so you can comparison-shop from inside the store. Find a better price at an online retailer like Amazon? Use ShopSavvy to make your purchase then and there. You can open ShopSavvy and begin using it right away, or you can create an account that allows you to save items into wishlists. According to ShopSavvy, you can use the app for any item that has a barcode, but it works best when the item costs more than $10—so you should “think bigger than groceries.”

Coupons.com

Coupons.com

Much as I love saving money, I’ve never been one to clip coupons from the Sunday paper—despite hearing stories about the savings to be had with couponing. So I was slightly skeptical of Coupons.com and its mobile apps for Android, Apple, and Windows devices. And in some ways, my skepticism is well founded. Since not all stores accept digital coupons, Coupons.com directs you to print out the coupons that you want to use. Luckily, finding desirable deals on Coupons.com’s site and mobile apps and printing the appropriate coupons is easier than wrestling with the Sunday paper. If your store of choice has a loyalty card, you can save deals directly to its digital version from the app. I also like how Coupons.com’s app shows you deals nearby (if you enable its location-based features) and how it links to online deals, complete with instructions on any necessary coupon codes and when to enter them. Extreme couponing may not be in my future, but shopping with Coupons.com sure is.

These apps may not help you balance your budget or curb your shopping habit, if that’s what you’re after. But if you’re looking to save a little casg—or a lot of it—while picking up the things you need, these apps have you covered.