SALTZMAN: Cost-cutting apps, websites that keep money in your pocket

Grab these free apps to save you money on everything from groceries to gadgets

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When you pick up a package meat at your local supermarket these days and take a gander at the price, you don’t know if you should laugh or cry.

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Talk about sticker shock.

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Fortunately, there are ways to save – even before you leave to go shopping – with the help of apps for your phone or tablet that scour your local stores for sales, websites that sniff out good deals online (or give you cash back for shopping at participating retailers), and web browser extensions that instantly apply coupons and discount codes to your purchases at checkout.

Here are a few favourites:

FLIPP

Toronto-based Flipp might best be considered a digital version of all those paper flyers (circulars) we find in our mailboxes each week.

But it’s much more than that.

Sure, the app and website lets you browse flyers from several local retailers (supporting more than 2,000 stores in Canada and the U.S.), but you can also type in keywords, like “chicken breasts” or something more specific (such as “LG C3 OLED TV”) and it will scour all local retailers to show you the best prices and sales.

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Tap to save all your favourite deals in one place, so you can plan your shopping accordingly. Or if you don’t want to visit multiple retailers, flash your deal clippings at a store checkout for those who price match. On a related note, Flipp also holds all your loyalty cards to show the cashier.

Have your eye on something you want but it’s too much right now? Create a “Watch List” of items to track and Flipp will notify you when there are discounts for those items.

Flashfood helps Canadians save on about-to-expire grocery items.
Flashfood helps Canadians save on about-to-expire grocery items. Photo by Supplied

FLASHFOOD

On a mission to “feed families, not landfills,” another Toronto-based company, Flashfood, helps Canadians save on about-to-expire grocery items.

Once you allow the app to determine where you are geographically, you’ll see an overhead map of participating stores nearby and a list of for-sale items for each, such as a mixed produce box for $5 or sausages on sale for $3.49 down from $6.99 (along with expiration date).

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Tap to pay through the app, and then pick it up in-store at a customer service area or a “Flashfood Zone” section.

Be aware the platform currently works mostly through Loblaw chains – stores like Loblaws, No Frills, and Real Canadian Superstore – but there are others, too, like Ren’s Pets.

Optional, but you can sign up for push notifications, to stay on top of the latest deals, promotions, and pick-ups.

Rakuten pays you every time you shop online through hundreds of participating retailers.
Rakuten pays you every time you shop online through hundreds of participating retailers. Photo by Supplied

RAKUTEN

You probably know about this one, but do you use it?

Formerly eBates, Rakuten pays you cash back every time you shop online through more than 750 participating retailers.

After you sign up (and get a $5 joining bonus), open the app or start at the Rakuten.ca website, before tapping on the logo of a retailer – such as Temu, Canadian Tire, Sephora, Walmart, Gap, Best Buy, SportChek, and Roots, to name a few – or type in a keyword in the search bar at the top of the app or site.

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Once you buy the item at the store, you’ll start earning cash that can be sent to you via cheque or deposited into a PayPal account (the fastest payment method). The percentage you get back varies, but Rakuten says it can be as much as 30%.

There is also a free browser extension, should you prefer Rakuten to automatically find and apply coupons (and compare prices), so you get the best deal.

Speaking of browser extensions, also consider PayPal Honey, a “sweet” browser extension that will let you know if there are coupon codes available to apply to your cart – or if finds the best price elsewhere.

Slickdeals has many as 12 million members who help find, vet and vote on the best deals.
Slickdeals has many as 12 million members who help find, vet and vote on the best deals. Photo by Supplied

SLICKDEALS

While it works a little better in the U.S. than in Canada, Slickdeals is most definitely worth using.

Slickdeals says it’s a community-driven platform with as many as 12 million members who help find, vet and vote on the best deals, whether it’s a product or service (such as a seat sale on an airline).

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That is, if there’s a sale on, say, Apple AirPods Pro, the community will analyze the deal and flag anything worth noting, such as calling out which generation product it is, when the sale expires, or if the sale is only available online and not at retail, for example.

The hottest deals move up to the Popular Deals section, while the best of the Popular Deals is then screened by the company’s Deal Editors, to see if the deal is good enough to graduate to the coveted Frontpage of the app or website. There’s also a Slickdeals browser extension that automatically flags available coupons and promo codes upon checkout.

If you want to price-watch an item, you can sign up for “deal alerts” and be notified if such a bargain is posted. (Just yesterday I took advantage of one: I had my eye on the entire Twilight Zone TV show collection, which is usually $80, but Slickdeals pushed me a email about the price temporarily dropped down to $20, and so I bought it.)

Other good apps and websites for Canadians to save include Save-On-Foods, RedFlagDeals.com, Kijiji, Reebee (now owned by Flipp), and eBay.

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