It’s a shopper’s world, but you’ve got to navigate it smartly to survive. With sales, specials, and buy-one-get-one enticements, it’s difficult to decide how to shop intelligently. But there’s an app for that.
Shoppers everywhere can benefit from their iPads and smart phones, whether they buy primarily on- or offline. There’s nothing wrong with comparison shopping, but when should you draw the line and make your purchase? For an answer to this and all other purchasing questions, these five little apps can make a world of difference. Do yourself a favor. Add these to your toolkit, and you’ll be a smarter shopper almost instantly.
If you don’t know what a QR code is, you’re not alone. (It’s a new-school barcode. Read the Internet more often.) RedLaser is a barcode and QR code scanner that helps you determine if you’re about to pay too much for an item. But, wait — there’s more. You can make purchases through RedLaser; you can also find local deals and prices on most items. You can compare prices across retailers. And, if that wasn’t enough — activate RedLaser at the grocery store to find out what allergens are in certain foods. The only thing this little laser doesn’t do is hypnotize cats.
It’s a site. It’s an app. And it’s your shopping sherpa. Coupon Sherpa has hundreds of coupons available, based on popular retailers and their sale items. The app even sends exclusive coupons to its users, and has an online portal for printable coupons when necessary. It’s only for U.S. shoppers, but you can find deals at virtually any large retailer. Make sure you do your homework, as some stores won’t yet take mobile coupons. But if it’s out there, Coupon Sherpa has scoped it, at the very least. Best for people who frequent large retailers, such as Target, Best Buy, and sporting goods stores. Also best for those who already love couponing. Newbies are better off sticking with Groupon.
Sure, that blouse is 75% off, but is it worth it? Sale saver calculates how much you’re actually saving, factoring in price and sales tax per your location. You can quickly and easily see how much you’re saving, no matter the price point. It’s simple, easy, and applicable across currencies. You can also calculate total savings throughout your shopping trip by saving items in your cart. Sale Saver makes it easy to stay in budget, and see what you’re saving. In a pinch, it can help you make a quick “Is it worth it?” decision.
Google Shopper might just have it all. Scan barcodes to check prices across several retailers. Scan covers of books and media to find reading, listening, and watching material near you. Search by voice (Pro Tip: This one doesn’t always work so well.), or get deals based on your location and stated interests. It’s the behemoth of shopping apps. If bells and whistles aren’t your thing, then turn off your push notifications or you’ll be shopping all day long.
It’s not a shopping app, but it’s a necessary tool for any prudent purchaser. Mint is a budgeting app. Mint keeps track of your actual expenditures, your theoretical budget, and helps with everything in between. Mint is good for first-time budget shoppers, in addition to functioning as a user-friendly update of an old folk’s general ledger. It might not help you decide where and when to shop, but it will certainly alert you if you’ve overspent. The best shoppers are those who do so within the confines of their personal budget, and Mint will help you do just that.
The Happy Shopper
Shopping can be super fun, especially if it’s a social event. But beware of what and why you’re purchasing anything — that is, make sure you’re buying out of something other than just pure desire. Learn this: The one with the most toys doesn’t win. It’s the happiest, healthiest, and most conscientious consumer that often has a higher quality of life than the guy with an iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2. Enjoy shopping for shopping’s sake, but consider browsing without your billfold. Sometimes we just want the thrill of the hunt, and you don’t always have to take a prize home to win. Whether it’s shopping apps, coupon cutting, or just living simply — be happy first. Buy stuff later.