If this weak economy has taught us anything, it’s to tighten our belts and look for bargains amid what seems to be a never-ending series of price hikes on staples like food and gasoline.
Instead of taking your economic frustration out playing Angry Birds, why not get the satisfaction of knowing you got the best deal you could thanks to a handy smartphone app?
We’ve gathered five free apps that will help you save money. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. RedLaser: This app is the ultimate armchair comparison shopper. It can scan UPC, QR Code and other bar code formats and then searches local stores for the prices of the item. The app also checks the cost of the item online and includes that in the list it compiles. Once the app presents the list, you can even buy the item of your choice and have it waiting for you at the store for pick up. RedLaser can also scan food labels and identify allergens in the item.
2. Coupon Sherpa: Forget about clipping coupons. Coupon Sherpa collects mobile coupons from hundreds of sources and delivers them to you smartphone. Once at the store, the cashier can scan the coupon right from the phone, or type in a provided discount code. Other features include the ability to create a favorites list, share coupons and gain access to exclusive coupons available only to app users. Coupon Sherpa is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android 2.1 and higher.
3. AAA TripTik Mobile: Use this app from the grandaddy of automobile groups to find the latest gas prices, hotel and restaurant deals and more as you travel about. The app is a fully-function global positioning system and can give voiced driving directions to get you to your destination. This versatile app is available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.
4. Skype: If you talk on your phone a lot, this app is a way to cut down on overage minutes that cost upward of 45 cents a minute. Skype uses the Internet as its phone line and users can talk to each for free, even to other countries. Video calls are also free. You can also talk to land lines and other mobile lines — even if they don’t have Skype — for 2.3 cents a minute with Skype credits you have to buy. The company also offers subscriptions. Skype is available for Android, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Symbian and other platforms.
5. Key Ring: Do you have those plastic tags from stores hanging off your keys or have you lost them? Can the stores still scan them or do you miss out on bargains and sales because they no longer work? This app stores the tags and when you need to use a store card the cashier merely needs to scan your phone’s screen. Key Ring is available for Android, iPhone, Windows and Blackberry.
Do you have a favorite app that helps you save money? If so, tell us.