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The secret apps and strategies pro shoppers use to save money during the holidays

We recommend getting your holiday shopping done as soon as possible. That’s because the global supply shortage is leading to more demand. Of course, that means prices are getting higher and higher.

This mainly applies to tech gadgets — but even turkey prices are soaring. Tap or click here to find out why buying your turkey sooner rather than later could save you $100. Another great way to save money is by using discount shopping apps.

There aren’t many ways to save money when you’re shopping, so these apps can make a huge difference. Sure, you could cut out paper coupons, but notifications from your shopping app are way less time-consuming. Here are some of the best shopping apps you should use to save money this holiday season.

1. Hit the bullseye on your shopping goals with the Target app

To save big on this app, you need to use the Target Circle feature. Before you shop, open the app and click on Target Circle Offers. This way, you’ll find coupons on the items you’re interested in. An item you might spend $40 on in-store could drop to $35 through this app, for example. After finding the coupons, follow these steps:

  • While you’re checking out with a Target cashier, open the Target Circle app.
  • Select Wallet.
  • Tap Add extra offers to see if any other coupons are available. (Never hurts to double-check. You may have missed some!)
  • Then, show the cashier your bar code.

Once the cashier scans the code, your coupons are applied. Here’s another tip: Maybe you searched for items in your shopping list on Target Circle, but you didn’t find any active coupons. You should still ask the cashier to scan your bar code because this can earn you money in the long run.

2. Prefer Walmart? Consider a subscription

If you shop at Walmart more often, it might be worth subscribing to Walmart+. It’ll run you $12.95 a month or $98 a year. That’s pricey, but it’s cheaper than Amazon Prime.

What’s included? First of all, members get to shop online Black Friday deals 4 hours before everyone else. That includes all three online Black Friday events.

You get free shipping from your local store, plus free online shipping with no order minimum. And in stores, you get extra discounts on prescriptions and fuel at 2,000 locations, along with scan and go checkout. That means you can scan your own items without waiting in line.

3. Get cash back shopping online and in stores

Get cashback in-store and online when you shop for groceries, clothing, home, travel and more with the free Ibotta app. For groceries, link your loyalty store cards, pay with Ibotta via linked bank cards or add offers before shopping, then submit your receipt. Combine all three of these methods to earn even more.

You can either shop with the Ibotta browser extension (Chrome) or app for online purchases. To withdraw your accrued savings, it must be greater than $20. You can also elect to transfer money to your PayPal account or a gift card purchased through the Ibotta app.

Note: Some retailers have a minimum purchase of $25 for gift cards.

4. You can count on The Krazy Coupon Lady

Find the best deals on your must-have products with this app. You can set up alerts for your favorite brands and products. This helps you get your foot in the door.

Say there’s an item on your Christmas list and you set up an alert. If it goes on sale, Krazy Coupon Lady will send you a notification. That means you’ll be the first to know, so you can take advantage of any promotions while supplies last.

The app even has tips that help you maximize your savings. It comes with a shopping list feature that saves deals based on whatever store you’re looking at. This helps you keep track of deals whenever you need to come back to them.

5. Get money back with Swagbucks

Who doesn’t spend time surfing the internet during the day? Why randomly scroll through social media or aimlessly browse websites when you can earn a few dollars online with Swagbucks browser extension or mobile app?

While this app allows you to earn cash back for the everyday things you do online, you may wonder how you score “SB” points. There are several ways, including:

  • Shop online
  • Search the web
  • Watch videos
  • Discover deals
  • Answer surveys

Exchange your accrued points for gift cards from popular retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart. In addition, you have the option to transfer the funds to your PayPal account.

6. Earn gift cards with Shopkick

This app takes a unique twist to how you earn points. As is typical with this type of shopping app, Shopkick gives you points when you purchase certain products and scan your receipts or shop online.

However, you can further earn points for merely walking into a brick-and-mortar retailer, watching product videos or scanning barcodes of specific products while in the store.

You may also like: 4 ways to get cashback on Amazon

Accumulate enough points and cash them in for gift cards from brands including Starbucks, Sephora, Target and AMC Theaters.

7. Traveling? Try Hopper

If you’re going to book a flight sometime soon, check out Hopper. This app analyzes billions of flight prices just for you. If you’re not sure why that’s such a big deal, here’s some background.

Everyone loves the idea of going on a vacation, which means the demand for tickets is often high. But demand can also fluctuate, which means airlines may increase or decrease a ticket’s price during the day. The airline’s software automatically updates the ticket prices so you can see the changes in real-time.

Of course, who wants to monitor flight prices all day? Save your valuable time with Hopper, which watches the changes in flight prices so it can pinpoint the best time you should buy tickets. The app also has a ton of recommendations, which can save you up to 40% on your holiday travel costs.

RELATED: 7 travel hacks to save you time and money on your next trip

8. Deals are sweet when Honey has your back

Searching the internet for coupon codes can take oodles of time. Not only that, but it can also be hard to find coupons that haven’t expired yet. One easy way to solve the issue is by sweetening your search with Honey.

No, we’re not talking about that magical concoction made by bees. We’re talking about Honey, a browser extension for Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Opera. Once you add it to your browser, you don’t have to change anything about your online shopping habits.

It’s super easy to use. Just shop normally and let Honey do the rest. It automatically applies the best coupon codes to your purchases. According to the company, Honey can find savings on millions of products sold through thousands of sites. Give it a try and see for yourself!


9. Use the aptly named Santa’s bag

Santa’s Bag is an organizational lifesaver. You can create lists for each person you need to shop for, including:

  • Gifts you need to buy
  • What you already bought them
  • The maximum amount you’ll spend on each person

Santa’s Bag even helps you keep track of all the money you’ve spent so far. It’s pretty thorough. It even categorizes the gifts you haven’t wrapped yet! Unfortunately, the Santa’s Bag app is only available for iOS right now. Sorry Android fans.


10. Track prices to snag the best price

Apps and extensions that pull coupon codes are great, but CamelCamelCamel goes a step further. It’s good for people who do a lot of their shopping on Amazon because it compares fluctuating prices over time.

Let’s say you’ve had my eye on Sony’s high-end noise-canceling headphones. Copy the Amazon link, then go to CamelCamelCamel’s site and paste it into the search bar at the top.

This gives me a breakdown of the price history going back the past three months, which you can adjust for one month up to a year ago. You can easily see that these $350 headphones dropped to $250 a couple of times a few weeks ago.

Instead of checking back daily, create an Amazon Price Watch. CamelCamelCamel will email you the next time the price goes down. You can even set a price so you only get notifications if it drops by $50, for example.

Bonus tip: Download your favorite store’s app

Chances are, your favorite store probably already has an app of its own. If you don’t find any brand deals on the apps above, head straight to the source. You may find a few sales or promotional discounts you won’t hear about anywhere else.

Also, if you’re nervous that someone might find out your gift list, try this app. Tap or click here for the best ways to hide what you buy on Amazon, so you don’t spoil the surprise.

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