Smartphone shopping: Savings 2.0 apps

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In a recession, seems the best shopping accessory isn't a credit card; rather, it's a smartphone equipped with apps to help you save cash, avoid impulse shopping and score the best prices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) online grocery-list tools are popular with budget-minded shoppers. Whatever happened to the back of the electric bill envelope? Oh, right; you get that bill sent straight to your email now. Some of the widgets in question, offered by supermarkets and third-party companies like Meijer and GroceryWiz, respectively, will send a shopper's list right to a web-enabled smartphone.The Journal points out that mobile list-making has some advantages over its low-tech counterparts; some applications automatically add items you buy most often, while others let you plug in a recipe and generates a list of the ingredients in it. (Another bonus: Your spouse won't bring home carrots instead of cream because he or she can't read your writing.) The iPhone offers a "Grocery IQ" app that lets you digitally scratch off an item after you've tossed it in your cart.

More people are using mobile phones to compare prices while they shop, as well. Pricegrabber.com research shows that more than half of consumers who use the Internet also own a Web-capable mobile phone, and a growing number are using them to compare prices while they're out shopping. (Hey, whatever helps justify that iPhone splurge!)

If you have Google Android, you can run the ShopSavvy app; use the phone's camera to read the bar code of the item in question, and it searches both online and brick-and-mortar outlets to net you the best deal. (Store searches are conducted by zip code, so you won't burn in gas what you save on the price.) Save Benjis is an iPhone app that works much the same way, although the user has to key in the UPS or bar code number by hand. Blackberry devotee instead? Stay tuned; ShopSavvy developer Big in Japan says it's working on a Blackberry edition.
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