3 E-Tools to Make Shopping Easier and Cheaper

PHOTO: Websites make it easier and cheaper to shop.

I get pitched almost weekly by P.R. people for new shopping apps that promise to make shopping better-faster-cheaper-smarter. Problem is, I never have time to truly vet them, so I don't know which ones to recommend. What am I, Consumer Reports?

No, I'm just me. But luckily, I have a core of brainy girlfriends, and when three of them recommended different shopping websites and apps to me -- all in the course of a single week -- I decided it was fate. I'll call this effort "Girlfriender Reports" and share their recommendations now.

ebates.com

This website partners with various retailers to give you cash back on your purchases. You can use the site as your portal to all online shopping or do what my friend Cindy does: "Whenever I am at online check out after I have done all of my shopping," Cindy said by email, "I go to ebates.com and look to see if the place I am purchasing from uses them. If they do, I click on their name and it redirects me back to the site and my shopping basket with a 2-5 percent additional discount, usually!" You can then choose how you receive your discount. "Voila! I request a check at the end of each month and it is mailed to me," Cindy said.

OutofMilk

During a break in shooting my You Tube show "Free for All," my buddy Deb started going on and on about this grocery list app she now uses. My initial thought was "ho, hum," but then EVERYBODY in the studio started searching for it on their phones, downloading it and asking questions. "Whoa," I thought. "Deb -- and the creators of OutofMilk -- are onto something!" The app is pre-loaded with the names of thousands of grocery items, so you can create a list of what you typically buy at the store. Then, before each trip, you can check and uncheck boxes next to items depending on what you actually need. Our sound man wanted to know if it's possible to share your list with someone else, like your spouse. I checked and you can, indeed.

Flipp

I was out to dinner with my friend Christie and she kept glancing at her smartphone to see the latest deep discounts she could snag. It was all compiled right there for her via the Flipp app. "I got $25 off of a $50 purchase at XX big box store," Christie raved. "So my husband and I used it to stock up on toiletries and stuff that we know we're going to need later." One of the smartest guerrilla grocery shopping strategies is to buy things when they're on sale rather than when you need them and Flipp helps you do that without sifting through piles of circulars.

So there you have it -- straight from Girlfriender Reports -- three ways to save time and money when you shop.

Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.

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