You spend a fortune on your monthly smartphone bill, so why not use that phone to save some money? Here are six apps that will help you find bargains and compare prices so you don't miss any deals this holiday shopping season. (For more help, see 6 Helpful Apps For The Holiday Season.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics


Milo
Platform: Android
Price: Free
The Milo Local Shopping app can tell you whether an item is in stock at a store near you. It can also give you the store's price on that item. This app can save you from driving all over town to find what you're looking for. It can also spare you the hassle of phoning stores to ask overworked employees to check inventory for you.

Barcode Scanner
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: $0.99; free
The Barcode Scanner app lets you use your iPhone camera to read UPC codes (and you can manually enter any codes that won't scan using your keypad). Once the app has captured the barcode, it will provide links and prices for the item at numerous online stores, allowing you to compare prices and get the best deal. When you're shopping in store, you'll know whether to snag what appears to be a deal or buy it online instead.

You can also store scanned items in shopping lists and send those lists via email. Kids can use the barcode scanner like a gift registry gun to create a holiday wish list and email it to their parents. The ability to scan the actual barcode of an in-store item eliminates any potential confusion about which model or color the recipient desires, making gift-giving more rewarding and eliminating the hassle of returns. (For more on online shopping, see How To Prevent An Online Shopping Nightmare.)

RedLaser
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: Free
eBay's RedLaser barcode and QR code scanner works similarly to the Barcode Scanner app to help you compare prices and create lists. When you find the best price, you can buy the item online from within the app for home delivery or in-store pickup. This app also gives you access to product descriptions and reviews, and it works in conjunction with The Find and Milo to help you track down local deals.

If you have a friend or relative who is difficult to shop for because they seem to own everything, you can use this app to scan the barcodes of their entire collection, and then when you're out shopping for them, you can confidently buy them something they don't already have.

The Find
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: Free
The Find claims that its patented search technology combined with its RedLaser barcode scanner will track down the most matching products and best prices compared to any other shopping app. It searches both local and online stores for the best deals and can locate coupon codes and shipping deals for the items you want. It also lets you set price watches for scanned items so you can wait for a price drop before buying them. Like other shopping apps, The Find lets you create lists of scanned items. It also syncs with TheFind.com so you can make online purchases from your computer rather than from your phone once you've found the best deal. (With the popularity of smartphones, security is becoming a larger concern, for help see How To Protect Your Smartphone From Identity Theft.)

Google Shopper
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: Free
Google Shopper is a more advanced shopping app in that it can identify products not just by barcode, but also by cover art. It also provides daily deals in select markets (Portland, San Francisco and New York, for now). Aside from those two features, it's similar to other shopping apps in helping you find low prices, reviews and product availability.

The Coupons App
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: Free
The Coupons App works with your phone's GPS capability to show you coupons for stores and restaurants within a 20-mile radius. You can share coupons with friends via email, text, Facebook and Twitter. To use a coupon, simply show the coupon on your phone screen to the cashier. The app will also bring up a map to help you navigate to the advertised business. If you're low on gas, it can help you locate the cheapest gas prices in your area.

The Bottom Line
The downside of having so much product information at your fingertips at all times is that it can tempt you to spend excessively. When you're using smartphone apps to facilitate your holiday shopping, remember to think of them as money-saving tools, not buy-more-stuff tools. (To help you organize your finances to make that new purchase, read 6 iPhone Apps To Help You Budget Better.)

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