Ways to Save Money

10 Free Apps to Manage and Maximize Your Holiday Budget

Updated November 12, 2015
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer
holiday shopping

Have you made your list? Have you checked it twice?

If so, you might be overwhelmed at the thought of battling the crowds to find the perfect gift for everyone. And trying to save money on top of it? Forget it.

Don’t fret: With today’s technology, you’ve got some powerful sidekicks for your holiday shopping.

Here are 10 apps that will save you time, sanity and money on your shopping adventures this holiday season. The best part? Every one of them is free.

1. RedLaser

This app might be my favorite on the list. Use RedLaser to scan the barcode of any product with your smartphone’s camera, and it will automatically check thousands of online and offline retailers to find you the best price.

You’ll never again buy an item at one store, only to find it at your next stop for a lower price!

2. ShopAdvisor

Know what you want, but don’t want to pay full price? You need ShopAdvisor.

Search for your desired item (or scan its barcode), save it to your shopping list, and wait. The app will alert you when its price drops at any store.

And even better, you’ll quickly know whether it’s a good deal, since ShopAdvisor shows you price history graphs from a database of 16,000 online and offline retailers.

3. shopkick

Penny Hoarders, rejoice: With shopkick, you earn rewards simply for browsing — no purchase required.

You’ll earn between 30 and 100 “kicks” for simply walking into participating stores like Macy’s, BestBuy or American Eagle, around 10 kicks for scanning certain items, and of course, more if you purchase anything.

You need approximately 1,250 kicks for a $5 gift card (redeemable at stores like Sephora or Target) — which shouldn’t be too hard to earn during the holiday shopping craze.

4. Ibotta

We’ve talked about Ibotta before, and since it’s so easy and rewarding, we’re including it again.

With this app, you receive cash rebates for everyday purchases in over 80 stores. It even has GPS, so you can easily check and take advantage of nearby rebates. As soon as you earn $10, Ibotta will send you a cash payment through PayPal.

5. RetailMeNot

You may have used RetailMeNot to search for online coupon codes. Though you can still do that with the RetailMeNot app, our favorite feature is its ability to geo-target.

Say you walk into your local mall, not thinking about coupons. This app won’t let you forget the deals, sending you an alert about any specials available nearby.

Two other neat features: if you’ve previously searched for and saved offers, it’ll notify you when they’re about to expire, and if you find a deal through the app, you can present the coupons directly to the cashier on your phone.

6. Mint

Money can be tight over the holidays, so it’s helpful to see where it’s going (and what you have left). For this, try Mint.com’s app.

This comprehensive personal finance tool quickly lets you see the status of all your bank accounts, track spending, create budgets and set savings goals.

It’ll even remind you when bills are due (since they’re easy to forget during the holiday madness!). Whether you’re a big holiday shopper or not, this app is a must-have.

7. Santa’s Bag

Though its emphasis is on Christmas (with a countdown to the big day and everything), Santa’s Bag is a handy shopping list app no matter what holiday you’re celebrating.

You can set a holiday gift budget, add gift recipients and assign gift ideas to each person. Make sure you don’t forget anyone — or any gift — with this app.

8. Coupons.com

The Coupons.com app allows you to browse thousands of coupons for use online and offline.

It’s also got a lot of cool features: You can save your store loyalty cards (no more carrying them all around!), show digital coupons at checkout and link your credit cards for automatic coupons and statement credits.

9. onereceipt

Have you ever decided to return a gift, but you just can’t find the receipt? It’s a frustrating experience we’ve all been through, and one that onereceipt is trying to prevent.

Scan your receipts into this app, and you’ll never lose another one. It also pulls in e-receipts automatically, storing them all in one place so you can see where your money is going.

10. Ebates

If you’re looking for a one-stop app that includes a lot of the features mentioned above, Ebates might be it. We’ve talked before about using Ebates to make money shopping online, because it gives you a cash commission for online purchases.

But that’s not all it does; with this app, you can also search for coupons, comparison shop and receive sales alerts.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite holiday shopping app? Did you find any new ones in this list?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We would have shared them with you anyway, but a true “penny hoarder” would be a fool not to take the company’s money. :)

This post originally ran in 2014, but we thought we’d bring it back to help you maximize your 2015 holiday budget, too!

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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