Five Indispensable Apps to Save Money When You Shop

How many people still clip coupons from the newspaper? And if you do manage to find the time to sit down and review weekly coupon offerings, do you then remember to take them to the store when shopping?

I’m not that organized. Clipping coupons has almost become an antiquated way of doing things amid the rise of online shopping, the disappearance of so many newspapers, and, of course, our ever-busier lives.

As U.S. newspapers have dwindled, however, the budget shopping apps for your phone have multiplied, making shopping with coupons far easier.

Few people leave home anymore without a cellphone, which means your coupons, or discounts, are always handy. There’s a dizzying range of budget shopping apps available, and more hit the market every day.

Here are five apps that help you save money on all sorts of purchases, not just food.

SnipSnap

You will never leave home without coupons again thanks to this app.

SnipSnap works in several ways. Its primary claim to fame (and the basis for its name) is allowing users to snap pictures of printed coupons. SnipSnap recognizes all the text and images on printed coupons and turns them into mobile-ready offers that can be shown to a store cashier.

No time to snap pictures of coupons? This app also lets you search its database of coupons, as well as search offers from various retailers. A particularly cool feature of SnipSnap is that users also share the coupons they scan. So you can search, and use, the coupons posted by fellow shoppers.

SnipSnap will also send notifications when your scanned coupons are about to expire, as well as location-based reminders when you arrive at a store for which you have saved coupons. So you will have little excuse not to use coupons on future shopping trips.

Jeremy McGinty, a tech advisor who created the website iosetc.com, which provides advice about using apps to improve your life, says SnipSnap saved him $250 in four months.

The downside of SnipSnap is that it doesn’t support manufacturer’s coupons yet. It works mostly with retailers and restaurants.

Customers on iTunes gave SnipSnap a rating of four and a half stars.

ShopSavvy

One of the more popular apps for budget shopping enthusiasts, ShopSavvy is best known for its bar-code scanning function.

See a product in a store that you like? Scan its bar code and ShopSavvy will search for its lowest price amid various local stores and websites.

One of the functions about this app I like best is that when it locates a product locally, you can get directions to the store, visit its store website via ShopSavvy, or call the store.

Users can also enable alerts and be notified when there are new deals for a particular item. ShopSavvy also allows browsing for sales from various retailers and brands — information that is updated in real time.

The current version of ShopSavvy received three and a half stars from iTunes customers and rave reviews from various tech sites.

There are downsides to this app, however. It doesn’t work with groceries yet. In low light, its scanning function is slow. And it can’t find some products.

Amazon Local

Amazon is truly everywhere these days – even in the budget shopping app business.

Amazon Local offers deals, discounts, and coupons. In many ways it’s similar to Groupon or Living Social – in a mobile phone app. But Amazon’s version offers discounts on products and services from local businesses and national chains, as well as online merchants. You can use the app to view and buy deals and set your preferences to get information about only the types of deals that interest you.

McGinty says one of the upsides to this app, which received five stars from iTunes reviewers, is that Amazon stands behind your purchases. If anything goes wrong, Amazon will likely find a way to make it right for you. This app also helps you discover new businesses in your community.

Coupon Sherpa

Another wildly popular and well-known app, Coupon Sherpa deserves the rave reviews. It does a great job in its niche – offering hundreds of coupons from retailers and restaurants that you can view and use on your phone.

There is no clipping coupons with Coupon Sherpa. You just use the app to peruse store deals and show the coupons you find to a store’s cashier at checkout. And unlike many other shopping apps, it has some grocery store coupons, albeit a limited amount.

Everyone from Dr. Oz to Money Magazine has raved about this app and its ability to save shoppers money. iTunes users give it a four-and-a-half-star rating.

Coupons.com

This app is aimed squarely at the grocery store bargain hunter.

Consumer Reports described Coupons.com as a giant when it comes to providing offers on groceries and everyday items. The coupons from this app come in three ways. (Warning: Some printing may be required.) Coupons are either sent to you via email, to be printed from your computer, or they can be printed from your mobile device, or they are added to your store loyalty card to be scanned at checkout.

Coupons.com also makes Grocery IQ, an app for shoppers who tend to have the same grocery list week after week. You input your grocery list, which is then saved, and the app matches items on your list with applicable coupons.

You can also add items to your shopping list on this app by either scanning their bar code, speaking them, or typing them in.

The downside, like the Coupons.com app, is you have to print out some of these coupons. Others are delivered to your store loyalty card.

Both of these apps received a three-and-a-half-star rating from iTunes customers.