Why does Black Friday always manage to sneak up on us? We have plenty of time to prepare, but most of us scramble to compile our holiday gift list before the big day. But now, scoring a great deal doesn’t have to mean waiting in line outside of the mall. As more of us transition toward online shopping, technology companies have responded with new ways to save with just the click of a button. And we don’t even have to leave the house while we nurse our Thanksgiving food comas. These four apps are my must-haves for saving money on holiday shopping—without changing out of your pajamas.
Online shopping portals are one of the Internet’s best-kept secrets (until now). They incentivize us to shop online by offering cash back in exchange for spending money. There are a few portals out there, but Ebates is my favorite because it partners with over 2,000 retailers. Whether you’re browsing a department store, shopping a boutique, buying essentials at a big-box store, or planning your next trip through a booking site, chances are high that you can earn cash back with Ebates. All you have to do is sign up for an Ebates account (and automatically earn $10), click on your retailer, and shop like normal. Then, you’ll receive a check every three months for the cash you’ve racked up. You will inevitably spend money online this holiday season, so why not earn cash back while you’re at it?
As grateful as we are to receive any type of present, we’ve all been the recipient of gift cards we won’t ever use. Raise is an online marketplace that has stepped in to address this problem. When you create a Raise account, you can offload those unwanted gift cards for cash. On the flip side, you can also purchase discounted gift cards that others didn’t want. Before you purchase your holiday gifts this year, check to see if someone is selling a discounted gift card on Raise. You can get creative here and buy gift cards for almost anything. Grocery store gift cards. Netflix gift cards. Nordstrom gift cards. Target gift cards. Airline and hotel gift cards. Lululemon gift cards. And the list goes on with thousands more. Since the platform is consumer-driven, keep checking back if you haven’t found what you are looking for. I like to set alerts for my favorite stores and receive a notification when someone is selling a gift card I want.
Clipping coupons is the traditional way of saving money. But the rise of online shopping has created the need for coupon codes instead of paper stubs. The problem is that there are thousands of coupon codes out there and no guarantee that any one will work. Honey is a browser extension that automatically searches for and applies coupon codes when you shop online. It activates when you open your shopping cart and tests available codes in a matter of seconds. Before I discovered Honey, I searched for coupon codes on Google and manually tested each one on the checkout page. While it saved me money, it also drained my time. Now, I can actually save with just the click of a button.
4. Personal Capital
I couldn’t write a post about spending without throwing in an app that will keep you in check. Personal Capital is my favorite finance app and the first one I recommend to friends and family. It is a free tool that aggregates all your financial accounts onto one dashboard, helping you see your whole net worth in one place. Plus, it helps you track your income and spending, set a budget, monitor your investments, and even plan for retirement. During the holidays, I like to use Personal Capital to monitor my expenses so I’m not left with a spending hangover. We all know it can take weeks to recover from one of those.