Money & Careers · Technology

Tech Tuesday: Websites and Apps That Save You Money

Buying a new smart phone or laptop is expensive, but once you can access the world wide web, you are all set to save. From dining on the town on a Saturday night, to concert tickets, new shoes, spa treatments, home makeovers, and even trips to Tuscany, here are my picks of websites and apps that can save you money. Find deals at your favorite stores, offered by services that learn your shopping preferences, or browse promotions in your area at unbeatable prices.

 


Opening loyalty cards to your favorite stores can save you a lot of money, but the cards pile up. If you are like me, you have dozens of cards crammed into various desk drawers to accumulate dust, not rewards. Key Ring is a hybrid shopping and organization app that consolidates all of your reward, loyalty, and membership cards onto your handheld device, so you won’t be without your whole collection when you make a purchase. Simply scan the barcode of each card using the app’s scanner then enter in the name of the organization or retailer to catalog your cards. In addition to helping you organize your cards, Key Ring ensures that you always have access to valid coupons when you need them. Search through King Ring’s large database of coupons to redeem discounts while you shop, and then scan in your savings at the register directly from your phone.

The free app RedLaser not only offers club card consolidation, but also provides price comparison for the thrifty shopper. Use RedLaser to scan the barcode of the item you wish to purchase, and the app will search nearby stores and online sites like Amazon and EBay for their prices on the item. If you are feeling particularly audacious, you may even present the results of your RedLaser price comparison at the register and ask the store to match the price of a competitor.


LivingSocial, a website also available as a smart phone app, is great for users who want to try something new. You won’t necessarily find coupons to your favorite stores, but instead to retailers, restaurants, and services that want to attract new customers. You can count on getting a 50% discount on anything from Driveway Asphalt Seal Coating to Froyo from Red Mango. If you want to start a new adventure, such as yoga or fitness classes, horseback riding, or a trip to the spa, begin your search on LivingSocial to save. But don’t just look for yourself.  Living Social coupons make perfect gifts. When you click on a voucher to purchase it, LivingSocial lets you easily specify whether the deal is meant for yourself or as a gift, which you can send directly from to the recipient via email, or print the voucher to give it in person. On LivingSocial, you do need to have an account to browse, but it is extremely easy and noninvasive. The service also offers easy sign up with FaceBook.

 

Groupon is a website and mobile app like LivingSocial that requires an account to access deals and promotions. Use Groupon to browse for “vouchers” in categories like dining, entertainment, and shopping, or find deals in your area with an interactive map. Groupon has a few advantages over LivingSocial in that it displays a standard metric of savings, the percentage marked off of the original price, and relays user ratings of the deals to help you decide whether or not you should try a new restaurant or masseuse. Groupon also has incredible deals on travel packages. If you are looking for a getaway, and are open minded about the details, Groupon offers fantastic deals on hotels and vacations. I can’t pretend I was not thoroughly tempted by Groupon’s nine days in Italy including hotels, roundtrip airfare, and complementary breakfast, for only $1,600 per person. I can just see myself sipping a cappuccino while searching local deals on Groupon from Venice, Florence, or Rome. . .

Restaurant.com offers a wider selection of savings on restaurants than Groupon or LivingSocial. You do not need an account to browse, but you do to purchase. The deals are simple: you pay online for a gift card to a restaurant of your choice. A very common example is a $25 dollar gift card on sale on restaurant.com for $10, but many restaurants require a minimum purchase of $50 when the gift card is used. Restaurant.com also offers promotions in other popular categories like entertainment, travel, and spa and beauty, but their offerings are not as extensive as their dining options.   

With a smart phone, computer, and an open mind, not only can you save on goods that you regularly purchase, you can also find deals on opportunities that would otherwise be a reach. It’s hardly an indulgence if it’s 50% off, right? I’ll let you decide.

 

 

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  • Elsa Blum July 16, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Great – Key Ring sound especially good and I’ll install the app very soon – I do have a drawer full of cards and never carry the right one at the right timer

    Reply
  • Andy Johnson July 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the info Amy. I may not use these things but at least I won’t feel ignorant when people talk about the deal they got on Groupon. And, thanks B. Elliott for the info about Amazon. I never noticed that button on the WVC website before.

    Reply
  • Roz Warren July 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I too am tempted by that bargain trip to Italy. Who wouldn’t be? Thanks for another terrific tech post, Amy Blum.

    Reply
  • B. Elliott July 14, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Great post! And don’t forget when you want to buy on Amazon, stop in first at the Women’s Voices for Change web site, click the amazon button, and it will take you directly there to shop. WVFC gets a percentage of each dollar spent to help fund the organization’s not-for-profit mission. So easy!

    Reply