Despite the obvious irony of paying half a month’s rent for a phone when you’re pushing broke, most of us these days can’t walk a block without our iPhone or Android telling us the way. But for the cash-strapped, having a smart phone can actually be… smart. You may know about targeted money-saving apps for things like happy hours, cab sharing and Exercise TV. But what about apps for savings and savings period? Well, there are a bunch of free ones for that too. Some are mobile offshoots of old couponing friends, others are new kids you should get to know fast.
Ahh, Groupon. A trailblazer among deal sites. The upside: great deals. The downside: You have to snag them with actual money—as in, pay for them up front—then you have to remember to use them. Still, the mobile version’s worth it. It saves you the pain of scrolling through your email to find that code when it’s time to redeem and, of course, it saves a tree or two. The app’s on iPhone, Android and there are even instructions on how to get it for the Motorola Sun 1660 BB, which is really great if you’re in the ‘90s… or MacGruber.
Like Groupon, with Living Social’s app, you buy the deal ahead of time. Also like Groupon, their deals are daily, so the app should hopefully keep you from missing the deal entirely. In case you don’t know it, Living Social’s good for everything from spa and fitness discounts to restaurant discounts, all 50-90 percent off. The cool part about Living Social is that once you do purchase, you can tweet or email your purchased deal to your friends, and if three people purchase too, your deal is free. This, of course, is how the site works as well, but the app makes it easier to share immediately when you’re out and about. (iPhone and Android)
When Scoutmob moved to NYC, we were excited. When they started offering deals in Brooklyn, we were elated. You don’t have to pay up front for Scoutmob deals, and you don’t have to “claim” them in a certain amount of time. Basically, you download the app, sign up via your email address, and then boom, you’ve got every deal on the screen. You can stroll into any place featured on the app and instantly use their deal. Just the other day, a group of Brokelynites walked into The Counting Room in Williamsburg and nabbed some fancy cocktails for half off with a quick touch of the button. The app does have a few technical glitches (not always recognizing your email address or freezing), but for the most part it works pretty well. (iPhone and Android)
Tenka is a bit like Scoutmob in that their deals don’t require pre-payment, but unlike Scoutmob, a few of the offers aren’t just 50 percent off, they’re FREE. Right now, you can get free cupcakes from Chickalicious or a free large coffee from Mud Truck. They don’t have a downloadable app but rather a web browser app: You go to their site on your computer, pick deals to put in your “Pocket,” then go to Tenka on your phone, enable your GPS and it will access your Pocket so you can use the deal in person. Cool part is that you can suggest deals via Facebook to friends, and collect cash for them. Your Pocket can hold three deals at a time, and they last only around 10 days, as opposed to months on other sites. So far there are no Brooklyn deals, but stay tuned. (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
This app is unfortunately unavailable on the Android or Blackberry, but luckily they’ve partnered with WHERE to make it available to more people. Yowza!! offers coupons at a variety of places from restaurants to clothing stores. You simply browse the coupons right on the app. On the WHERE app (which is also awesome on its own), you can click on the “Coupon” button. Most every coupon is for a bigger, corporate store, but there are occasional Brooklyn gems too. And most of the deals aren’t specifically for Yowza!! users, but coupons from the stores themselves (like Lane Bryant’s current sale of Buy One, Get One 50 percent Off sweaters deal). While you might not save 50-100 percent as with other apps, any savings is worth it. (iPhone)