With the current inflation rate hovering around 8.5% at the end of July (the highest in almost 40 years), there is no shortage of reasons to find new ways to save money and reduce everyday expenses. The cost of food, for example, rose 10.9% in the 12 months ending in July, according to government data, while gasoline prices rose 44.9% during the period. Oh! “Your money won’t stretch out as much as it used to, so it’s good to try to save where you can,” said Chanelle Bessette, personal finance specialist at NerdWallet.
First, you might want to put the savings you have into a high-interest savings account — some accounts now pay 1.75% or more, and you can see the best savings account rates you can get here. Also, “if you haven’t budgeted your money yet, now might be a good time to start. The first step is to see how you are spending in different areas, and then the next step is to see if you can spend less.”
To help cut some of that expense and start racking up your savings, industry experts are here to weigh in on 10 of the smartest shopping apps on the market today.
More complete: BeFrugal
So you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, but know you want to save? be frugal could be one of the most comprehensive savings tools available to help. Download this for free from your smartphone app store, or as a plug-in in your web browser, and connect to your PayPal, direct deposit, Venmo, Zelle, or applicable store gift card number.
Once set up, let BeFrugal automatically apply coupons and start collecting cash back from over 5,000 retailers like Macy’s, Lowe’s and Best Buy, or simply browse the home page for savings. At the time of this writing, the deals on the BeFrugal homepage included a large Vera Bradley duffel bag for $24, originally $119; a pair of Gap shorts for $4, originally $50; and the Lands’ End vest for $6, originally $33. In addition to these amazing deals, BeFrugal also offers cash back to use on future purchases, which are automatically charged to your account for later use.
You can see the best savings account rates you can get here.
The best for saving gas: upside down
The last time gasoline prices rose as fast as they did in the 12 months ending in June was in March 1980, when they grew 68.2% year over year, according to government data. It goes without saying that everyone needs some relief at the pump these days.
That’s where upside down comes into play. It’s as simple as connecting to whatever card you use to pay for gas and finding the nearest participating gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. Earn an estimated $203 cash back each year at participating gas stations, depending on upside downand use your savings for future spending at one of the many affiliated stores. And while you’re spending upside down says it will donate 1% of all its proceeds directly to sustainability issues.
Best for saving on groceries: Pay 51
box 51 It started with groceries, but now it also offers cash back on gas. Like many savings apps on the market these days, Checkout 51 relies on a simple step-by-step process: download the free app on the App Store and Play Store, check for updates and new deals every Thursday, tap “Redeem” and check off items on your shopping list, upload your receipt after making your purchase, and collect your earnings. Once you have accumulated $20, you can withdraw money.
Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst for DealNews.com, said apps that provide real cash back like these are a big plus when it comes to savings with prices still so high in much of the country. “Saving on both gas and groceries is a good way to cut down on your daily expenses, especially now that school starts back up and parents have to drive kids to school and to extracurricular activities more now,” she said.
The best for accumulating savings: Rakuten
Not many savings apps have risen to the level of a household name like Rakuten has since it was founded in 1997. And for good reason. This free app claims to offer cash back at over 3,500 stores, including Walmart, Old Navy, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and many more. So far, Rakuten claims that its more than 17 million members have earned more than $3.7 billion in total refunds.
So how does it work, you may be wondering. Simply sign up for a free account and start shopping on Rakuten.com, the Rakuten app, or use your web browser extension. As you search for whatever you may be looking for, Rakuten will provide you with the ability to build your balance and receive payments by check or PayPal.
Ramhold recommends Rakuten, along with the DealNews app, of course, as one of their top savings tools. “Cash back rates can be lower most of the time, but Rakuten occasionally offers perks like triple cash back during special events; either way, if you use it regularly, the cash back adds up and that can definitely help lower the total cost of your purchases,” said Ramhold.
Best for simple cash back: Ibotta
Get cash back every time you shop, at least that’s the promise that comes with the savings app Ibotta. This shopping tool has partnered with 2,700 brands and retailers, from supermarkets and clothing companies to electronics brands and wine or beer retailers, to bring some of the great deals to consumers. The company claims to have paid out more than $1.2 billion in cash rewards to its more than 40 million users since it was founded in 2012.
“Look out for special events to boost those savings, too: This year we’ve seen a summer-themed event and a back-to-school event, both of which provided additional discounts on popular products,” said Ramhold.
You can see the best savings account rates you can get here.
Other good savings options:
Add this app or browser extension, continue with your usual shopping routine and paypal honey will work with you to connect your cart with available codes and savings. Today, the network of this application has expanded to more than 30,000 online stores with a growing membership base of 17 million users, according to the company.
“I really love using Honey when shopping online because the app aggregates promotional codes from its users, which can sometimes result in huge discounts,” said NerdWallet’s Bessette. “I’ve gotten a 20-30% discount in some cases.”
Wearing Get rewards it’s as simple as taking a photo of your receipt and earning points toward free gift cards. This app also chooses brands and products to add extra points to your balance. Use their tracking tool to track your spending and help create a budget.
Shopping expert Andrea Woroch says she’s found this particular app useful on several fronts and suggests researching deals before you buy. “Check the special offers section before you buy to see which brands can get more receipts, so if you’re not married to any specific brand, consider switching to get more cash back,” Woroch said.
Available on your smartphone as well as a browser extension for Chrome, Edge, and Safari; ShopSavvy offers users several useful savings tools, such as price comparison, new savings and price drop alerts, and price tracking at thousands of retailers. The company has been around since 2008 and claims to have been downloaded some 40 million times.
“For online shoppers, download PriceBlink into your browser, as this extension will alert you when an item you’re viewing online is available elsewhere for less,” Woroch suggests. “This is quite useful because they can direct you to a website that you wouldn’t have thought to check out before and the savings can be quite significant. ShopSavvy now also has a browser extension, but I haven’t used it yet.”
when you download CouponCabin, whether on your phone or as a browser extension on your desktop, joins what counts as its base of more than 13 million members. Since its founding in 2003, CouponCabin has developed partnerships with more than 6,000 stores and retailers, including Target, Macy’s, Nike and Home Depot. VIP members can also earn an additional 12% cash back on over 120 available gift cards. Cash payments here can be accepted via check, Paypal, Venmo, ChasePayments, or an Amazon.com gift card.
Never miss a deal again with the RetailMeNot Deal Finder app and browser extension. Explore this free shopping tool and let the algorithm automatically find deals and promo codes to apply to your purchases. Some of the best deals as of this writing include a 20% coupon on buybuy Baby, a free gift set with any $35 purchase at Sephora, and 50% off a Mophie Air Portable Jump Starter bundle at HSN.