The holiday season is more than two months away, but retailers are already vying for your pocketbooks. And because the holiday shopping season accounts for roughly 20% of all annual activity, you can be sure that retailers are looking for ways to get you to spend more than you'd like to -- some stores already have their Christmas displays up!
Luckily, there are ways for you to fight back using the Web and smartphone apps.
Whether you're looking to get your shopping done early or save on a big-ticket item or two, here are three tech-savvy ways to save on holiday shopping.
Tech-savvy saving tip No. 1: Track prices on camelcamelcamel.com
As in the stock market, patience can save you big money. And if you're a long-term investor, you'll love camelcamelcamel.com.
Frequent online shoppers have likely noticed that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) uses "robo-pricing" to change prices as often as every 15 minutes. These complex computer algorithms help the e-commerce giant make sure its prices are just slightly lower than its competitors'. At the same time, the robo-pricing lets Amazon maximize the margins on each sale. That's great for its bottom-line -- but bad for your wallet.
But you can turn robo-pricing to your advantage. By knowing the pricing history of your favorite products, not only can you see high price points, but you can also see when they hit rock-bottom.
You can also bypass all of Amazon's pricing tricks, as well as those of Best Buy and Newegg. After analyzing the item price for a moment, all you need to do is set a target price. Once that $100 item falls back to $80, camelcamelcamel.com will email you or send you a direct message on Twitter. How neat!
Tech-savvy saving tip No.2: Forget paper; try mobile coupons
Why spend time clipping coupons when you can go mobile?
With RetailMeNot's (NASDAQ: SALE ) mobile app, you save a few bucks with just a few taps of your smartphone. In 2009, the company started out by aggregating coupons from around the Web on RetailMeNot.com. Now the company is stepping up direct partnerships to make sure coupons are valid online or in-store (through mobile).
Currently, RetailMeNot has partnerships with 10,000 of 60,000 merchants on its site. And with an average of 24 million unique visitors a month, RetailMeNot has the audience merchants want to advertise to. Unless that crowd dwindles -- which won't be anytime soon -- you will likely see more merchants partner with RetailMeNot. That saves you money and time at the checkout lane.
Now, what if you want to use your hard-to-find paper coupons?
Try out the SnipSnap mobile app. Unlike RetailMeNot, SnipSnap photo-digitizes your coupons! Even cooler, it lets you share them with friends, family, and other "couponistas." In fact, you don't even need to share anything. You can search through the community for any coupon you need.
However, don't get too excited just yet. While a few companies like Bed Bath & Beyond have partnered with SnipSnap and give the app a commission for each coupon used, many like Target explicitly bar coupons via the mobile app. Simply put, SnipSnap doesn't have as large an audience as RetailMeNot and can't sign on as many partners.
That said, you can't go wrong with either if you're trying to save a few bucks this holiday season. Both apps have four stars or more on Apple's App Store and Google Play. Simply test them out and see which one has coupons from your favorite retailers.
Tech-savvy saving tip No. 3: Tap the wisdom of "daily deal" crowds
There are hordes of people searching the Web for a better deal on their online and in-store shopping. So why spend an extra hour researching the "best" price on an item?
By using community forums like TechBargains.com, fatwallet.com, and slickdeals.net, you can see what these communities of savers think are the best deals for the day -- whether they be 30% of laptops or 20% off cereal.
Best of all, these websites let you set deal alerts. After taking 10 seconds to enter the product info, all you have to do is sit back and wait. You'll get an email once someone spots a deal.
Shop, save, and relax
With Halloween around the corner and Thanksgiving dinners to make, you have enough things to stress out about before the holiday season. Don't let money be one of them. By following these three tech-savvy ways to save money, you can do more shopping with less anxiety and more money left over.