Who couldn’t benefit from saving money and snagging the best deals? Good news, there’s an app for that. That smartphone you carry with you everywhere can be one of your best assets to shopping smarter and unlocking savings.
For real estate professionals looking to save on everything from technology gadgets to client gifts, gas, office equipment and more, your smartphone can lead you to savings that can certainly add up.
For example, are those costly ink cartridges for your printer starting to bite into your budget? You can use mobile apps to find the lowest cost ink: Ink cartridges from one online retailer could have cost you nearly $54 with shipping costs but by using your smartphone app you can find where you can get it for $28 (including shipping)–that’s nearly double in savings!
Smartphones make it easy to comparison shop and even show you how to get discounts and track your savings. The following is an overview of small business professionals’ favorite money-saving mobile apps–mostly geared to the iPhone and Android since they overwhelmingly dominate the app market. Be sure to chime in with your favorite apps too!
1. Scan barcodes to unlock savings.
Several mobile apps have popped up in recent months that allow you to scan a product’s barcode with your smartphone to instantly get a list of where else you can find that product and possibly at a lower cost. These apps help you to compare prices and ensure you’re always getting the best deal. Here are some of the most popular ones:
RedLaser: With this app, you can scan a product’s barcode to compare prices of products online and in other stores. What often is overlooked: You also can use it to scan books to see if you can find the book locally in the library (for free) or cheaper online too.
iPhone and Android / free / redlaser.com
Shop Savvy: Just aim your phone’s camera at any product’s barcode and you’ll get a list of online and local prices. It’ll also tell you coupon codes, shipping promos, rebates and weekend sales. No barcode? You can search by keyword.
iPhone and Android / free / shopsavvy.mobi/
SnapTell: Use your phone to snap a photo of any book, DVD or CD, and you’ll get reviews, ratings and price comparisons.
iPhone and Android / free / snaptell.com
2. Find ways to trim your car costs.
Gas isn’t cheap these days, and driving your clients all around town and shuffling from listing to listing can make fuel costs really add up. Find ways to shave down those car costs with these mobile apps.
GasBuddy: Every cent can count. Use this app to find the lowest gas prices in your city.
iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, mobile Web site / free / gasbuddy.com/
DriveGain: This app says it can save you, on average, $205 per year in fuel costs. While you’re driving, this app provides visual and audio feedback on what changes you can make to your driving to help save gas and eek out higher miles per gallon. It provides feedback by monitoring such things as your acceleration, braking and speed.
iPhone / $6.99 / drivegain.com
RepairPal: This app gives you fair price estimates on what you should expect to pay for various repairs and service needs for your car–this way you know before you go to a mechanic what the best price is. The app will also help you find a mechanic in your area by using its GPS-enabled repair shop directory, and it can help you find roadside assistance when needed.
iPhone and Android / free / repairpal.com/mobile
3. Use e-coupons for discounts.
Forget the coupon-cutting days from newspapers, you can access a bunch of coupons right from your phone, and you don’t even need to print them.
Groupon: It’s been getting plenty of buzz lately, and that’s because you can find deals on places to eat and products that are often times 50-90 percent off. Groupons are available for more than 500 cities globally. You can get a daily list of the best deals in your area. By using the mobile app version, you’ll be able to keep track of all your purchased Groupons by location, date and expiration and never have to print anything out.
iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and mobile Web browser / free /groupon.com/mobile
The Coupons: Use your Android phone to scan a product’s bar code to see if a coupon is available. This app also can provide you with daily coupon lists, or you can search for deals in your local area. You also can share the coupons on your social networking sites–in case you want to be known as the real estate agent who helps save clients money!
Android / free / thecouponsapp.com
Coupon Sherpa: Access hundreds of in-store coupons from your phone to find discounts on client gifts, electronics, books, and more. This app covers coupons for more than 5,000 stores. You can search for coupons by store name or category.
iPhone and mobile Web browser (coming soon for Android and BlackBerry) / free / couponsherpa.com
CardStar: Time to consolidate all of those store loyalty, reward and membership cards you carry around on your keychain for extra savings. This app allows you to ditch the clunky plastic tags and store all of your cards’ barcodes on your phone. The store can scan the barcode directly from your phone’s screen. This app also provides you with coupons and special deals from your local and national merchants, as well as access to online coupons that you can load directly to your cards.
iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile / free / mycardstar.com
4. Track your savings.
To better manage your expenses and find savings, you need to know where your money is going. Plenty of budget apps can help with that.
Mint: Use this app to create a budget based on your actual spending habits. By linking it to your online banking and credit card accounts, it’ll automatically pull in and categorize your expenses so you don’t have to enter the transactions on your own. It also can create a budget for you based on your actual spending habits and offer personal recommendations on ways to save. It’ll also send you e-mail or text alerts when you overspend on your budget.
iPhone and Android / free / mint.com
Pennies: For those who want a visual of their budget and savings, try this app. Use it to enter your monthly budget and track your expenses and the app will provide an illustration of your spending via a gas tank-like picture that shows you how much you’ve spent and how much you have remaining in your monthly allotment.
iPhone / $2.99 / designbyaknife.com/pennies
iPiggy: Have a big technology or business purchase you want to make, but need to save for it first? You can use this app to plot out your savings. You set the target amount and the date you want to reach your savings goal, and this app will then calculate how much you’ll need to save per day, week, month, or year to meet that savings goal.
iPhone / free lite version / 100proofsoftware.com
5. Learn the best time to buy.
When should you buy that new tablet or cellphone? Some apps and web sites may be able to help you make such big spending decisions.
Shopobot: Currently in beta testing, Shopobot isn’t a mobile app so you’ll have to access it from your phone’s Web browser. But this site can send you alerts of when it’s a good time to buy cameras, laptops, consumer electronics and more. Prices can fluctuate a lot so you can use this site to cue you into when stores “secretly change their prices.” The site tracks price changes at major online retailers for new and used products and provides a price graph showing how prices have changed over time. It’ll also send you refund alerts if the price drops after you already purchased it.
Mobile Web browser / free / shopobot.com
PriceGrabber: Set price alerts to products you want to buy and this app will alert you to when and where your target price has been found by scanning hundred of merchants. You also can use this app to scan bar codes or search by name for comparison shopping and access product reviews and information.
iPhone, Android and mobile Web browser / free / http://pricegrabber.com
Share with us: What other money-saving mobile apps do you have on your phone?