Technology is a huge help for consumers to spend money smarter.
For example, you can search online for best prices, or if you're already in the store, you can use your smart phone to read a product's bar code and get competitive prices.
Problem is, new money-saving websites and apps are launching almost daily. It's nearly impossible to investigate them all. We've rounded up a few interesting and promising ones that have come out in recent months. With many, 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. All are free, and more details are available online. Keep in mind that these aren't being listed as the best, just a sampling of some of the newest.
*SavingStar.com: This site puts a different spin on paperless coupons, or e-coupons. That generally refers to choosing coupons online that electronically links them to your supermarket or drugstore loyalty card. Tops Markets, Wegmans, CVS and Rite Aid participate locally.
That way, you automatically get the savings at the register. With SavingStar.com, which claims to be the largest digital coupon service, your checkout bill is the same but savings are squirreled away in an account, which you can cash out by direct deposit into a bank account, PayPal account and other methods. SavingStar also has apps for iPhone and Android that allow you to choose coupons on the go.
*DealNews.com app: Prominent deal site DealNews is not new, but its iPhone/iPad app is. Users can browse more than 100 deals a day or request push alerts, which send personal deal alerts for specific products or coupons to on-the-go users.
*CouponNetwork.com: The world didn't need another site with printable grocery coupons, but this is produced by a major player in the coupon industry, Catalina Marketing Corp., the company behind those coupons that print out at the end of your cash-register receipt.
Notably and exclusively, the site includes YourBucks, which aren't coupons but relatively high dollars off your future purchases. For example, recently if you bought two bottles of Listerine Whitening Rinse, you got $4 printed on your register receipt to spend however you want, like cash, on your next grocery trip.
*OpenChime.com: OpenChime says it will get price quotes for you from local service providers, such as plumbers and house cleaners, saving you the hassle of calling around -- and potentially turning up a better price than you would have gotten on your own. You simply get an e-mail with price quotes.
*AwardWallet.com: The website will keep track of your frequent-flier miles, as well as hotel and credit card rewards points in one place, perhaps allowing you to use them more efficiently. And it will alert you, for example, when your miles are about to expire.
*Upromise.com app: Upromise is pretty well-known already; it's a site where you can earn money for college expenses as you shop -- ideally, making purchases you would buy anyway. It now has a GPS-enabled smart-phone app for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry to make it easy to find nearby restaurants and retailers that participate in the Upromise program. It will give you directions from your current location.
*PayDivvy.com: Having trouble keeping bills straight with roommates? PayDivvy offers online bill pay and group payment. It can, for example, automatically divide bills among roommates, friends and family, who can then pay those bills automatically.
*WildcardNetwork.com app: This gift-card management app for iPhone or Android devices allows you to store your gift cards on the phone, look up balances and spend gift cards by showing the bar code on the phone.
Again, these sites and apps are new endeavors, some backed only by individuals who think they have a great idea. You'll have to decide for yourself how helpful and relevant they are to you. Try them and their competitors. And if you're particularly concerned with privacy, be sure to examine the privacy policies of various websites.
For links to the websites cited in this article, go to the Strictly Business blog at Buffalonews.com