These are just some of our favorite free apps, plugins and insider tips to make shopping for your business more affordable.
Save money with online coupons
Finding online coupons that aren't expired can be a frustrating process, but such free plugins as Honey (which works with Chrome) do all the hard work for you. When you're about to pay for an online purchase, Honey automatically scans the web for coupons, tests all of them and then applies the one that will save you the most money. You don't have to enter any codes or leave the site, just accept the discount and pay, no strings attached.
Comparison shop automatically
Pricescout is a free comparison shopping extension (for Chrome, Firefox or Safari) that can save you major cash on online purchases. When you shop online, Pricescout looks around the Internet for the same product at a lower price. If it finds one, it gives you the option to buy it from the cheaper source. Pricescout also automatically checks for coupons on the product you're purchasing.
When you're shopping in person, you can use ShopSavvy to comparison shop in real time. ShopSavvy allows users to scan barcodes in stores and see if the price is a good deal. If the price you see at your local store is competitive, ShopSavvy will tell you; if it's not, it recommends alternative stores that offer the product at a lower price. This is not only a huge money saver but a major timesaver as well. With it, you don't have to spend time (and gas money) driving from store to store price checking different items.
Optimize your credit card usage
Most entrepreneurs have at least two different credit cards for business expenses. Using credit cards for business expenses is a great way to easily track spending and get points, but since different credit cards have different point policies, it's easy to accidentally leave points on the table by using the wrong card.
Tools like Walla.by help people with multiple credit cards get the most out of their rewards points. Once you download the free app or extension, you can input the type of credit cards you have, then, before you make a purchase in store or online, you can consult Walla.by, and it will tell you which credit card to use to maximize your points.
Track rewards points, loyalty programs and frequent flier miles
There's no point in racking up credit card points and frequent flier miles if you never use them. In 2011 the New York Times reported on a study that found that the national total for points, miles and rewards is valued at about $48 billion annually. One-third of that $48 billion in rewards goes completely unredeemed by consumers. The main reason people don't use their points and miles is because keeping track of several different rewards programs is confusing and time-consuming, but it doesn't have to be.
Free services like AwardWallet track all of your rewards programs in one space so you can monitor your points, receive notifications before points expire and make purchases that take advantage of your accrued points. While you're at it, you can ditch all the store cards in your wallet by scanning them into Stocard, a free app that allows you to keep all your rewards cards in one place and use them in stores to get points.
Save big on your Amazon purchases
Thanks to their diverse inventory, free shipping with Prime and easy automatic ordering options, Amazon is a staple for many small business owners. If you're a big Amazon shopper, there's an easy way to make sure you're always getting a good deal.
Keepa is a helpful and free Chrome extension that every Amazon user should download. When you're shopping on Amazon, Keepa shows you the price history of the item you're looking at and gives you the option to select your own ideal price and set a notification.
So, if you only want to pay the lowest rate for printer ink or staples, you can have Keepa tell you when the items you need drop to the price you want. Price notifications can be sent to your phone via push notification, to your email, Twitter, Facebook (privately, of course), or even directly to your desktop in the form of a notification.
Save money with in store coupons
Coupon clipping is still a great way to buy the things you need at a discount, but no one wants to walk around with a binder of coupons. SnipSnap is the perfect way to bring couponing into the modern world.
SnipSnap allows you to scan coupons from newspapers, mailings and magazines directly into your smartphone. The app notifies you when your coupons are about to expire and sends you in-store reminders to use coupons you've saved. If you regularly do business-related shopping in person, you should download SnipSnap stat.
Track travel deals
When it comes to business travel, you can't always resort to last-minute bookings and off-season travel to save money, but aggregate websites and apps make finding the best price on flights, car rentals and hotels easy.
There are lots of aggregates that allow you to compare travel costs, but Kayak has proved to be a reliable source for finding travel savings. Kayak itself isn't a booking service; it just directs you to the best deals online, so you might find a great flight on Kayak that you book through Travelocity or Priceline (third-party sites). If you want the best of both worlds, you can use Kayak to find a great deal and then go directly to the airline, car rental or hotel's website to book it.
The biggest benefit of booking direct is customer service. As a business-traveler, you want the most direct line to customer service possible. If your flight is canceled, your hotel is overbooked or your travel plans change, it's much easier to get new accommodations when you're talking to the actual service provider rather than a third-party website.