Websites and smartphone applications can be tremendous resources for spending your money smarter. Problem is, so many new ones crop up that it’s difficult to keep up.
So we searched for some websites and apps you might not be using and that you might find helpful.
In general what we found was a growing sophistication among money tools. Some smartphone apps use the built-in geolocation capability of the phone to help you spend money smarter — by offering a coupon for a store that you’re already in, for example. Another trend is for sites and apps to engage consumers by incorporating small game-type methods of reaping rewards, called gamification. And many new sites have online videos to explain their tools.
Of course, new and unusual spending tools don’t necessarily trump the tried-and-true. For example, worth considering are Mint.com to track your spending, ConsumerReports.org to investigate product quality, AngiesList.com to find top-notch service providers, the CardStar app to electronically store your loyalty cards, GasBuddy to find low, nearby gasoline prices and Amazon Price Check and RedLaser to scan bar codes to compare prices.
But among new and lesser-known tools, we’ve rounded up a few interesting and promising ones. With newer ones, it’s hard to predict whether they’ll succeed and be available a year from now. And we weren’t able to thoroughly review every one. But if you’re a smart consumer who likes trying new sites and apps, these seem worth a shot. Details are available online. All are free, but most have some method for earning money, if only from advertising. Keep in mind that these aren’t being listed as the best; they’re just a sampling of ones worth exploring.
• Glyph and Wallaby apps. Have a bunch of reward credit cards but aren’t sure which card will give you the biggest reward for specific purchases? Glyph (paywithglyph.com), which plans to change its name to Wisely, and Wallaby (walla.by) can help. For each of these apps, you first enter the reward cards you own. Armed with that information, they will use the GPS on your phone to identify the retailer or restaurant you’re in and advise you on which card to use to maximize your cash back or reward points. This can be a huge help for credit cards that change bonus-reward categories each month. Each has a companion website. Linking your cards can be time-consuming, but presumably, you do it just once.
• Avvo.com. This website attempts to help average people with their legal problems and also rates attorneys and offers referrals. It has a free question-and-answer forum with questions answered by lawyers. A well-known site geared more toward do-it-yourselfers is LegalZoom.com.
• Manilla. This site (Manilla.com) is a couple years old but seems to fly under the radar among mainstream tools. It’s somewhere to organize many of your bills and subscriptions in one place. You can link your accounts for your cable TV, wireless phone, electric company and travel rewards among others. Manilla keeps tabs on those accounts, storing your bills and statements and alerting you to bills that are due so you don’t incur late fees or possibly damage your credit rating. This site requires a lot of trust because you enter logins for many of your online accounts, including financial ones. Manilla is owned by the large media company Hearst Corp. and has detailed explanations on the website about its efforts to keep your information secure. For a site more geared toward paying off debt, see ReadyForZero (ReadyForZero.com).
• Flipsy. Selling back your unwanted electronics can be a great idea. For example, you might get $50 for a waterlogged iPhone that you thought was worthless. Flipsy is a trade-in comparison site that shows what some companies will pay you for your used books, smartphones, Mac computers and video game consoles. To get the best deal, be sure to check out the big trade-in sites too, such as Gazelle, NextWorth, Glyde and Amazon Trade-In.
• Ibotta. This app allows you to earn money for products you plan to buy by completing minor tasks. For example, if you were going to buy Silk Pure Almond milk, you could earn 25 cents for watching a 90-second ad on your phone. If you were going to buy Green Giant frozen broccoli, you could answer a poll question to earn 25 cents. After completing the tasks, go to the store and buy the items. Then take a picture of your store receipt to prove you bought the items — some stores offer automated verification — and money is credited to your Ibotta account. You can withdraw the money via PayPal.
• CartCrunch. This app, formerly called Saverr, says it uses crowd-sourced pricing data to help shoppers find the best prices at their local grocery stores. You can scan your grocery receipt to receive customized offers and a recommendation on which supermarket is best for you based on lowest prices, although supermarket choices are limited so far. Beware, the app is very young, but it’s interesting. Other grocery-related apps recommended by ShopSmart, the Consumer Reports magazine, include SnipSnap, Shopular and Reclip.it.
• Dlyte.com. Buy gift cards from this site to reap reward points, which can be accumulated and used to purchase more gift cards. You can also use points to bid on gift cards in auctions.
• Shopkick. This app is the opposite of “showrooming,” the term for consumers scouting purchases in real stores but then buying the products online for a lower price. This app rewards you for physically being in the stores of major retailers by giving you “kicks,” the program’s currency, for being in the store and interacting with products, such as scanning bar codes of items. As a consumer, you should be aware that the idea behind the app is to encourage you to walk into stores more often and perhaps be enticed to make more purchases. Accumulated kicks can be cashed in, mostly for gift cards to Target, Starbucks, Macy’s, iTunes and others.
• Wattzon. This website and accompanying apps attempt to save you energy and money. After asking a few questions about your home, it will offer suggestions on how to cut energy use, for example. You can link the site to your utility account to monitor electricity and natural gas use.
• Greentoe. This website allows you to name your own price for electronics, similar to Priceline and Hotwire for travel. You make an offer, with help from the site, which then notifies retailers of a potential buyer. The first retailer to respond makes the online sale to you. Be sure to check prices elsewhere to make sure you’re not offering to pay too much.