AOL Consumer Adviser Regina Lewis had word on "The Early Show" Tuesday about some of the best websites and apps for finding the biggest bargains in stores and online.
In just a matter of minutes with your computer, smartphone or iPhone, Lewis says, you could be saving money.
"Paying full price shouldn't even be an option anymore," she says. "If you're not taking advantage of these three things, you're paying too much."
Lewis said, "Make your money work for you by earning cash back on your purchases. Be sure to comparison shop. And finally, look for one-stop shop sites that aggregate the best deals from other bargain sites. Don't waste your time looking in numerous places. Find the websites that act as portals, or one-stop shops and let them do the work for you. And don't miss out on coupons, coupon codes or freebies. Steep discounts move fast, so stay on top of deals and freebies with different apps and deal-a-day websites."
Lewis' Suggestions for Super Saving:
• Earn cash back from online purchases
• Compare prices
• Use one-stop shop sites
• Don't miss coupons and freebies
It genuinely surprises people to learn, you can earn cash back on almost all your online shopping at 1,200 different, big name stores. You click on the store you want to shop from and the first thing you see is all the coupon codes we all crave. So, take advantage of the one you want - 10 percent off, Free Shipping, etc. Then, start shopping. Here's the exciting new part: You will earn a percentage back on all your purchases. So, if -- by way of example -- I spend $100 at a department store and they're offering six percent cash back, I'm up $6. Then, if I hop over to another participating site and buy some things for my home, I might earn 10 percent back. The site keeps a tally and every three months, you get a check in the mail. If you started shopping online today, you'd get a check in the mail in November.
But how can the site afford to give you cash back?
It is a form of a promotion, just like a sale would be, but it's rewarding to the user. Instead of getting 10 percent off, you might get $6 back. Plus, the site tallies it up and sends you a check. There are no reward points, blackout date. This is very straight forward.
This app is a real show-stopper. It's the future of shopping now. RedLaser turns your iPhone into a bar code scanner. It uses your camera's phone to read the barcode, it then takes the information from the bar code and comparison shops for you by searching hundreds of thousands of retailers for the item you've just scanned. So you'll know if you can get the item cheaper, either at the store around the corner or online.
And if the product is available at a different store at a better price, RedLaser will give you a map and directions on how to get there from where you are. It works on everything from electronics to home goods to wine and groceries.
RedLaser has been downloaded two million times and is one of the more popular barcode scanning applications. When EBay bought the app in June, they made it free on the iPhone (it was $1.99) and increased its selection with 200 million listings. RedLaser.com or at iTunes here.
If you don't have an iPhone and/or if you're simply shopping online, you should use free add-on application for your web browser called "Invisible Hand." It will save you both time and money. You don't have to be at all "techy" to use it. The download takes less than a minute and once you've got it, Invisible Hand sits on your toolbar (the bar at top of screen) until you visit a product page. It then provides a discreet notification when a product you're viewing can be bought for a lower price elsewhere. So, before you checkout and overpay, just click on the link it provides to hop over to the cheaper site. The tool is compatible with 115 major retailers, including Amazon, Overstock, BestBuy.com, Borders.com, SEARS, ToysRUS and more. On average people who shop with Invisible Hand will save $15 every time they use it. Not Bad!
Groupon, Living Social, YipIt.com:
It's all about collective buying power. Getting a bargain is great, but getting your friends in only sweetens the deal for everyone. Subscribers receive free daily emails alerting them to the deal. (Steep discounts of 50 to 90 percent are offered on local restaurants; spas; fitness classes; recreational activities and tourist attractions.) These deals are only activated if a minimum number of people agree to buy, encouraging subscribers to share the promotion with family and friends via social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Groupon was one of the first players in this space, but an even newer site that's gaining some traction is YipIt.com. YipIt aggregates deals from 30 different services including the two most popular - Groupon and LivingSocial. Plus, it recommends the best ones for you based on preferences you set. The deals are most often ones offered through various local merchants and restaurants. So, it might be a $30 spa deal or a deep discount on dinner or a concert ticket or a round of golf. It's available in 11 cities (and one international location - London), but will be everywhere very soon.
Coupon Sherpa App:
Ditch the pounds of coupon pages cluttering your refrigerator and streamline your savings with Coupon Sherpa mobile coupon. Download this app to your iphone or ipad. Coupon Sherpa's premise is quite simple: It displays a list of retail businesses, and tapping through you can see available coupons for each store. From there, you can tap the coupon, and it loads. You present your iPhone to the cashier, who can scan the coupon off the iPhone screen or simply punch in the barcode. The Coupon Sherpa staff scours the internet daily for deal. I just tested on my iPhone and found lots of offers in my local area, from stores including: Best Buy, Bath and Body Works, Barnes and Noble, JCPenney, Kohls, Old Navy, Lens Crafters, Quiznos and more. It uses GPS location on your phone to serve up offers in your local area and the coupons appear on your phone as a bar code than can be scanned at register in store.
There are tons of deals on the web, but if you're looking for the best of the best this site is a good one-stop shop. The site editors pick the day's top deals, including buy-one-get-one-free and free trials. The site will alert you to promotions major retailers or national restaurants may be having, such as: free lip gloss and lotion at Victoria's Secret. If you were a member of the lingerie store's valued customer club (called Pink Nation), you'd have received a free lotion with any Victoria's Secret PINK purchase. And mydaily also gave you a coupon code (GLOSS10) to be used at checkout to receive a free PINK lip gloss with any PINK purchase. Other daily deals include a free cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts or Kids Eat Free deals at various restaurants. Importantly, these are legit offers that have been vetted. Often they're big companies giving away free samples or trials. The key is knowing about them. This way, when you see a big crowd at a local pizza place or ice cream shop and they're all getting free slices or cones, you'll know why and be in on it, too.