11 apps that help you save money

Heading back to school this fall? These apps will help you save money now and throughout the year.

Photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Ready to buy new clothes, dorm furnishings, gadgets, or just want to make sure you can afford to eat? The good news is that you won't have to spend all of your time looking through the newspaper or local flyers to find the best deals. Here's a collection of 11 apps that will help you locate coupons, hidden rebates, and tips for getting the best prices everywhere:

Coupon Apps

You usually bring your phone with you everywhere, right? Instead of adding to the forgotten pile of newspaper clippings on the kitchen counter, just add one of these apps to your phone. Digital coupons are eco-friendly (save trees!) and don't require any email newsletters that clog up your inbox.

Coupon Sherpa (Android, iOS)

Want to dive right into digital coupons? This app doesn't require any account information and lets you browse coupons by category, or search for something specific. You can save your favorite places by tapping the star in the corner. It's that easy.

The Coupons App (Android, iOS)

As the name implies, you will find a wealth of coupons inside. And besides coupon browsing, you can scan items, share coupons with friends, or even check gas prices.

RetailMeNot (Android, iOS)

Thanks to the latest update, this app is now delivering offers on food. You can save your favorite stores and also get a notification when a new offer is available from them, which is a missing feature from many of the discount apps out there.

Restaurant.com (Android, iOS)

You have to eat, but maybe you want a break from cooking. This app will get you great deals on gift certificates for local restaurants -- like $4 for a $10 certificate.

Checkout 51 (Android, iOS)

More of a rebate redemption service than a coupon app, Checkout 51 will send you real money when you buy selected products. All you have to do is take a picture of your receipt and submit it to the app to verify your purchase. After $20, you can cash out.

Other discounts

KeyRing (Android, iOS)

Having trouble getting your keyring into your pocket? Removing some of your discount cards means you'll be missing the right one at the wrong time. Instead, add all of your discount cards to this app and the cashier will be able to scan your screen. Bonus: the app has a large selection of coupons, too.

Cartwheel by Target (Android, iOS)

This app displays items that have special sale prices, with one catch: you can only pick as many spots as your list will hold. The more you use the app, the more spots you'll earn for your list. After your list is built, the app will create a bar code that must be scanned at checkout to reap the savings.

ShopSavvy (Android, iOS) / RedLaser (Android, iOS)

Want to know if you're getting the best deal? The easiest way to check is with a scanner app like ShopSavvy or RedLaser. These apps are extremely similar (which is why they are grouped together here), but ShopSavvy is definitely the veteran of the two -- if that makes a difference to you.

Foursquare (Android, iOS) and Swarm (Android, iOS)

Believe it or not, you can score some sweet deals on food and other items with the Foursquare and Swarm apps. From discounts when dining out, to a percentage off your bill at major retailers. Just check-in and you'll see which offer you've unlocked. (The code for redemption is in fine print along the bottom.)

GasBuddy (Android, iOS)

If you're using your own car to get yourself (and maybe some friends) to class, then you'll want to know where to fill up. GasBuddy heavily relies on locals to report gas prices -- and it works! You're likely to save money each time you check the app before heading to the pump.

Setting a budget

Using coupons, collecting rebates, and getting discounts will definitely save you money, but you should still have a budget. In other words, don't let savings one place encourage you to overspend somewhere else. Many banks are now offering the ability to see where you're spending the majority of your income (if you use your bank cards) with their mobile app. However, if you're looking for an alternative, try this one:

Check (Android, iOS)

This app will help you manage your finances across multiple accounts. The bill reminders will help you avoid late fees, and you can make payments right through the app.

Mint.com gets an honorable mention, but does not work with two-step authentication, which is required by many banking websites.

Don't see your favorite listed here? Share it in the comments!

 

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