If you suspect the price tag on that bag of tomatoes or pack of socks has crept up over your last few visits to the store, it’s not in your head. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that consumer prices jumped by 0.9 percent in October alone, and by 6.2 percent over the last 12 months. Business Insider reports that inflation has hit African American households harder than white ones, showing that overall Black families are spending a higher percentage of their take-home in come on essentials like food and utilities than white families.
Just when you might have started to feel that the cash hemorrhaging caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation could finally slow down, the holidays arrived. Perhaps you were good when it came to covering your own expenses, but you hadn’t planned on spending much money on others. The bad news is that prices are up, but the good news is that you don’t have to pay those prices all of the time. Here are price tracking apps and sites that will help you get the best deals on your holiday shopping.
Slickdeals makes it easy to know when an item you’re looking for is listed for a good price, or when a brand you like is having a sale. They have both a website and an app that allow you to use their Deal Alerts function to type in a store, brand, keyword or category and set up alerts for when items you’re interested in come up at a good price. Type in your email and Slickdeals with let you know when a deal you might be interested in comes up. They also have a “Top Coupons” tab where you can find great and current coupons on big names like Target, Best Buy, Nike, Sam’s Club and more. Plus, if you become a member, you can earn rewards over time.
Invisible Hand is a web browser add-on that’s compatible with Firefox, Chrome, iOS and Edge. Once it’s installed, it discreetly monitors your shopping, scanning the Internet for better prices on the very things for which you’re shopping. If it finds something better, it will let you know. It even does this for flights. Invisible Hand refreshes prices every time you use it, so you always know you’re seeing real-time prices. It even reveals the prices from some brands that try to hide them. If it doesn’t find a better deal, it doesn’t pop up, so it’s never a nuisance.
RetailMeNot is a website and an app that makes it easy to find deals on the items you love. You can browse by category, for example searching “Travel” will pull up dozens of active coupon codes for major travel sites like Expedia or Hotels.com, or searching “spa” will bring up coupons for day spas and manicure/pedicure salons. The app uses your location to show coupons for stores near you, and when you find a coupon you like, simply pull it up on your phone and the cashier can scan it from there. You can also add favorite stores to a list on the app, so it gets smarter at showing you coupons you might like. RetailMeNot also has many cashback deals. If you shop a vendor through the RetailMeNot portal, you can sometimes get up to ten percent cashback deposited into your RetailMeNot account.
You’ve likely seen many stores now offering to match prices you find online – so long as it’s for the exact same product. However, nobody has the time to personally browse hundreds of online retailers once they find the item they want. The ScanLife app does it for you, instantly scanning dozens of major online retailers. Just scan the item you want in the store, and ScanLife will show you if an online retailer is offering a better price. Show it to your cashier, and it might just save you a few bucks.
Everyone receives those piles of paper coupons in the mail. They always seem to arrive just when you don’t need them. A coupon for one store arrives just after you’ve shopped there or months before your next planned trip. So they go in the trash, and the savings are lost. The Flipp app recognized this problem and created a solution. It digitizes paper fliers from your favorite stores, making it easy to “flip” through hundreds right there on your phone. This cuts down on paper use, and lets you search for promotions in real time. Plus, you can “clip” the fliers you want to save for later.
Mycartsavings is an online comparison price tool, showing you the prices across dozens of major online retailers for one item. But it’s so much more. It’s basically your living online shopping cart. You can drop items in the cart, and set a price limit for what you’re willing to pay. The app constantly keeps an eye out for deals on that item, and alerts you when an item in your cart shows up at the price that works for you. It also has helpful tools like a price history, which shows you what this item has cost over time, and daily deals that show you coupons that could be of interest to you.
BuyVia can help you compare prices on several categories, but it is particularly loved by tech shoppers who need to save on these pricey items. It lets you compare prices for items both online and in stores, using your location to find you the nearest brick and mortar options. It also has price drop alerts, notifying you when an item you were interested in goes on sale. It searches for online and paper coupons, and keeps a list of your favorite deal sites. Some of the in-person stores it scans for include Best Buy, Macy’s, Sears, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Staple’s and Walmart.
Earny is a unique app in that it not only helps you find good prices on items now, but it also can help you get a refund if the price drops of an item after you buy it. You read that correctly. Earny continues to track items after you’ve purchased them, and can help you get a refund on qualifying purchases if the company had a price protection policy. Beyond that, you can earn cashback when you shop your favorite retailers within the Earny app. The cashback gets deposited directly to your Earny account, and you can cash out from there. It also keeps a watch list for you, tracking the prices of items you’re not yet ready to buy.