Photo via Sharon Hahn Darlin

5 free apps that’ll keep you sane during holiday shopping

Holiday shopping sucks, but with these five apps you'll save money and your peace of mind.

Feb 28, 2020, 7:40 pm*

Tech

John-Michael Bond 

John-Michael Bond

Christmas shopping season kicks off on Black Friday but, as many shoppers have learned in the past few years, sometimes the deals aren’t worth fighting the crowds for. 

This year’s Black Friday saw over 99 million consumers shopping hit stores, but according to the National Retail Federation survey released on Sunday, consumer spending was down. Shoppers on average spent $10 less this year compared to 2015. With the average Black Friday shopper spending $290 that day, there’s a good chance some of you still have gifts to pick up if you’ve started at all.

Accordingly here are some apps that are sure to help you get the most bang for your buck this holiday shopping season. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, but thinking ahead can save you money.

Santa’s Bag iOS

Especially for large families or people with lots of friends to buy gifts for, Santa’s Bag is an organizational dream. Santa’s Bag lets you set individual budgets for people on your lists, plan gifts, create shopping lists, and monitor your progress from your phone. Designed from the top down to make sure no child, big or small, gets forgotten, Santa’s Bag makes it easy to make everyone feel important without destroying your bank account. Remember, never spend more than $15 on a third cousin unless they’re offering you a kidney.

Paribus iOS

Online shopping is handy, but prices change so often it’s easy to wonder if you’re getting the best deal you possibly can. Paribus tracks purchases you make online at major retailers ranging from Amazon and Best Buy to Newegg and Banana Republic. Paribus will track the prices of purchases you make, then detect coupons and price-matching opportunities. Paribus pours over each company’s policies, and if you’re eligible for a coupon or rebate, it’ll contact customer service on your behalf to get you the money you’re owed.

Your first savings experience is always free. After that, Paribus takes a 25 percent of whatever money you get back, but that number can be reduced if you refer friends to the app. If you do all your shopping online, Paribus could save you big, especially if you’re the sort of person friends go to for app advice.

Buycott iOS

Just because you have a shopping list doesn’t mean you don’t also have principals. Buycott lets you knock out your Christmas needs without accidentally supporting causes you think are evil. Simply scan barcodes to learn about the company behind a product. If you don’t agree with their actions or values, don’t worry. Buycott will offer up an alternative and help you message the company you avoided to let them know they lost your business. Buycott may not be able to help you save the rainforest, but at a minimum, it’ll help you get through the season with less weight on your soul.

Flipp iOS

Sometimes you can’t just shop online. For those moments, Flipp serves up a seemingly unending list of paper store flyers to at least make your shopping trip a savings experience. You can quickly “clip” coupons to save for later and keep up to date with sales at major retailers, so any trips to the mall can be in and out. Once you’ve got your Christmas list knocked out, make sure you keep Flipp on your phone. The app also keeps track of grocery store and pharmacy circular ads, so when it comes time to make Christmas Eve dinner, you’ll be able to find the best price on groceries or aspirin if your in-laws will be visiting.

Ananda iOS $2.99 or iOS free

Once you’ve left the mall or your browser, take a little time for yourself. You’re spending money, dealing with traffic, and thinking about the holidays. Don’t let stress destroy your spirit; use Ananda for a quick meditative break. Whether you need to energize your sense of creativity, take a quick power nap, or indulge in a long restorative sleep, Ananda has a meditation ready for you. Five minutes or an hour, Ananda’s blend of peaceful nature sounds, chimes, and nature sounds are curated to the exact sort of meditation or relaxation you want.

Give the free version a spin and if you like what you find splurge on the $2.99 upgrade. You get more options, more customization, and a better overall experience. I purchased this app a few months ago, and it’s become a soothing part of my daily life. Skip a fancy coffee and invest in your mental health. We could all use a little help after the shopping is done. 

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*First Published: Dec 2, 2016, 8:00 am