By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan:  With the holiday season just around the corner, now’s the time to develop a savings strategy for purchases.  The November 2013 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, showcases new online sites and apps that make shopping faster, easier, and more fun while saving money, and these services are free!

“There are so many ways to save money on purchases, but keeping track of them can be overwhelming,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Using these free sites and apps can make the experience a lot less daunting.”

Four New Sites for Saving Big

ShopSmart identified dozens of sites that will suite almost any shopper’s needs.  Here’s a look at four that can help maximize savings:

  1. allows users to earn automatic rewards for shopping.  The search engine’s new reward program gives points just for doing Web searches at the site and trying new features.  Subscribe to get started, redeem points for Redbox rentals, earn money for charities, and get gift cards to use at Amazon.  Don’t Miss: The Refer a Friend program allows subscribers to earn rewards for recruiting others.
  2. is great for scoring coupons, promo codes, and cash back.  Sign into this site before checking out at other participating sites (which include lots of biggies, such as and  Subscribers earn cash back on their purchases.   Don’t Miss: The Exclusives section offers special codes.
  3. can help users price check items.  Type in a product to find its average price and the price history for recently sold items.  Scroll down to see where the product is available online and how its asking price compares with the average online.  Don’t Miss: Provide an e-mail address on the results screen to receive price alerts.
  4. manages deals for its users by organizing all daily e-mail into one message and allows that to unsubscribe to sites in seconds.  It currently works with Gmail and Yahoo! and a few other email clients.  Don’t Miss:  This site can corral social-media notifications, too.

The Latest & Greatest Shopping Apps

Shoppers on the go won’t miss great deals when armed with these free new apps:

  1. CheckPoints:  Scan grocery-product bar codes, play games, and watch videos to earn points.  Then redeem them for gift cards, frequent-flyer miles, Facebook game credits, gadgets, and charitable donations.  Works on: Android,      Apple
  2. EcoBonus: Earn rewards for buying with the environment in mind.  Users can scan receipts and enter product codes for wholesome brands such as Annie’s Homegrown and Seventh Generation, then redeem points for stuff or donate  them to charity.  Works on: Android, Apple
  3. Goodzer:  Users can type what they are looking for into this app and it searches mom-and-pop stores and chain stores nearby to see who has it and what they are charging.  Works on: Apple
  4. My Shopanion:  Scan potential purchases to get real-time feedback from other users, find the best prices, and buy in just two clicks.  Works on: Apple
  5. Shopping by TheFind: Scan bar codes to find the best deals locally and online.  The apps lets users know if retail partners Best Buy and Target can match the lowest-priced result a search turns up.  Works on: Android, Apple

For more information on great sites and apps, check out the November 2013 issue of ShopSmart that is on newsstands now or visit:

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