8 apps that will help you save big this holiday season
Yes, there's an app for that. Plenty of them.
Menus. Stocking stuffers. Festive décor. Travel plans.
The to-do lists you're already scribbling for the upcoming holiday season likely feel endless — not to mention packed with pricey items to purchase.
Fortunately, you don't have to pay an arm and a leg — or even full price — to ensure your holidays are merry and bright this year.
That's because we've rounded up the best money-saving apps out there to help ensure your seasonal spending doesn't spiral out of control.
Vouched for by consumer savings pros, these free tools are easy to use and designed to keep you on budget — no matter what's on your list.
An app for travel: HotelTonight
Wouldn't it be romantic to whisk your significant other away for a pre-holiday weekend getaway? Sure would — except you haven't booked a room yet, let alone checked the property's rates.
Luckily, there's an app for that: Starting at 9am local time, Hotel Tonight releases unsold rooms from top-rated hotels — at incredibly low prices — that you can book for that very night or up to seven days in advance of your trip.
"These same-day deals are perfect for flexible travelers who are looking for an amazing experience and an amazing price," says Shannon Hanrahan, a consumer savings expert for PromotionalCodes.com.
In other words, this could be just the app you need when you finally get around to finalizing your holiday travel plans — at the last minute.
How much you'll save Hotel Tonight could help you score up to 70 percent off accommodations, according to consumer savings maven Andrea Woroch.
After doing a quick search, we found a room at the ultra-luxe Le Parker Meridien in Palm Springs for half-off.
An app for toys: Shop for Kids
Finding this year's It Toy isn't the only challenge you'll face when it comes to tackling a child's wish list. There are a number of things to consider, like price, durability, how much your kid will actually end up playing with it, and — of course — how much elbow grease it will take to assemble the toy.
All of these details and more are at your fingertips when you use this deal-hunting app created especially for kids' toys. It's a favorite of Woroch's because it features price comparisons, expert videos reviews and details on how easy or difficult the items are to put together.
The best part? Shop for Kids covers everything from kids' learning toys to sporting goods to video games — basically everything on a child's (or tween's) wish list.
How much you'll save You can expect up to $10 off on some items. For example, the app lists the Tomodachi Life video game from Nintendo at a price range of $29.47 to $39.99, and the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Mower from Fisher-Price ranges from $14.82 to $23.74.
An app for electronics: ShopSavvy
If the last thing you want to do is brave the Black Friday crowds this year to find the best deals on your favorite electronics, this app's got you covered.
"Shopping for electronics can be a tedious process due to the vast prices available across different retailers," Hanrahan says. That is, unless you use ShopSavvy.
All you have to do is scan the barcode of an item that you're looking at in a store, and the app will find the lowest price being offered at both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Bonus: You can also set up price alerts for products — like that GoPro your husband's been hinting about for months — so you never miss the best deals.
How much you'll save It depends on the item, but we found a 60-inch HD flat-screen TV at nearly $500 off its regular price while browsing the site.
An app for food shopping: Snap by Groupon
"People spend so much on travel and gifts during the holidays that it's easy to forget how much food costs — then blow through your budget," Hanrahan says.
One solution for cutting down on that hefty holiday food shopping bill? Try the new Snap by Groupon app, which provides weekly cash-back offers on featured grocery staples — like milk, bread, and pasta — purchased at any supermarket or retailer.
Whenever you buy any of these items — whether it's for a Tuesday-night dinner or your Thanksgiving feast — simply take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app in order to rack up cash in your account. Once it hits $20, Snap will cut you a check.
How much you'll save Savings per item range from $.25 to $3, so depending on how much you buy, you could theoretically save around $20 each week on groceries — freeing up your holiday budget for other items.
An app for holiday budgeting: Santa's Bag
From your next-door neighbors to your in-laws, everyone has a wide spectrum of people to buy gifts for each year, which can make it hard to keep your burgeoning shopping lists straight — without forgetting someone or overspending.
So this year, try Santa's Bag, a password-protected app that lets you manage a holiday shopping list for everyone on your iPhone.
You can create a budget for each person, a separate gift list for stocking stuffers, and check off presents as you buy them — all which can help track your spending.
Another handy feature: It saves every gift you've ever given to someone, so you can avoid gifting your dad the same DVD two years in a row.
How much you'll save This one's all about making sure you're sticking to the budget you've created for the season — a feat in itself. As a result, gift purchases won't slip through the cracks, and you'll feel more in control of your holiday spending.
An app for décor: SnapShop
Perhaps you need to add seating to your dining room table after a family wedding earlier in the year upped your Thanksgiving head count. Or maybe you've just been angling to replace your holiday serving ware.
Enter SnapShop. "This app is for anyone looking to make updates to their home furniture and décor in time for holiday guests," Woroch says.
The ultimate try-before-you-buy tool, SnapShop helps you decide which items to purchase by showing you exactly what your home will look like post-makeover. All you have to do is browse the app's catalog of items — from stores like Pottery Barn, Pier 1 and CB2 — to choose the product you'd like to purchase. Then, the app uses your camera to "place" the item into a photo of your chosen room.
How much you'll save The benefits of this app are just as much about saving time and effort as money, Woroch says, adding that you'll eliminate the annoyance of purchasing an item and paying for delivery — only to return it once you realize it clashes with the rest of your décor.
An app for clothing: ShopItToMe
Clothes shopping — for the perfect holiday party outfit or for the designer jeans on your teen's Christmas list — just got easier, thanks to this app, which lets you select the brands and stores you like, as well as input your size.
You'll then get an e-mail (called a SaleMail) or smartphone alerts letting you know when items within the parameters you've set go on sale.
"It's great because it takes all of the work out of shopping by sending you what you'll be interested in," Hanrahan says.
How much you'll save The possibilities are endless — but all add up to big bucks. Examples on the app's website show a Marc Jacobs purse for $100 off and a Hugo Boss sports coat discounted by more than $250.
An app for gift card shopping: Gift Card Granny
They can be a great go-to present for coworkers, clients, cousins, or anyone on your list who you're not sure what to get — but unlike actual gifts, you can't get them for a bargain price. Or can you?
This app culls gift cards and e-gift card codes that are available for resale so you can score them at a discount. You can use the discounted credits either to buy gifts for others, or simply give them as gifts. Even better, you can even use the app to sell gift cards you no longer want for cash.
According to research from CEB TowerGroup, an estimated $1 billion — yes, with a "B" — in gift card cash goes unredeemed each year, so don't let yours go to waste.
How much you'll save You can usually save 3 percent to 15 percent off the cost of a new gift card. But there are some gems to be found too: We discovered a $500 Best Buy gift card on sale for only $282.
More from LearnVest...