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Free App Friday: Better Tools for Every Type of Shopper

How to save money online and in stores–and whip your wallet into shape by ditching the loyalty cards.

Gird your loins, friends: the holidays are officially upon us. Whether you’re a hermit unwilling to leave the house for even the steal-iest of deals or a true suburban warrior able to punch your way through crowds with your non-latte-holding hand, there’s a free app here for everyone. Grab ’em all if you’re feeling ambitious. There are deals to be had.

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1. If you’re not sure what you want to buy but you know you don’t want to leave the house

Try the DealNews app (Android, iPhone). The company’s editors scour the web for good deals, ranking each in order of “hotness”-–a reflection of the biggest bargains. Deals are sourced from both major and minor retailers, and efforts are made to weed out deals from low-rated shops, so you can feel confident you won’t get ripped off.

2. If you know exactly what you want to buy but you still don’t want to leave the house

Check out RetailMeNot (Android, iPhone). This is a must-use app when you’re about to hit the order button on an online purchase. Take a quick look to see if RetailMeNot has a coupon code for the store, complete with feedback from other users about how well various coupon codes have worked for them. You can load the app up with your favorite stores to make sure you don’t miss out on deals in the future, too.

3. If you’re begrudgingly at a retail store but your gut tells you everything’s cheaper online

Make sure your phone has the RedLaser barcode scanner app (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone). If an in-store item has caught your eye, grab it off the shelf and use the app to scan its barcode. You’ll be presented with a list of all the online stores where it’s available and how much it’ll cost. Find the best deal, buy it, and wait patiently for the UPS guy. If it’s cheaper in-store, then you’ll get to enjoy a bit of that elusive “instant gratification” you’ve been hearing so much about.

4. If you love the smell of commerce in the morning

Grab the Shopular app (Android, iOS) and fire it up as soon as you get to the mall. It’s a godsend for true mallrats, alerting you to nearby deals and serving up in-store coupons as you ping-pong your way from the department store to the food court and all points in between. The app works at over 1,000 malls across the U.S., with deals updated daily. You can browse big-name retailers’ weekly circulars right from within the app as well.

5. If you’d like a little recognition for your loyalty

The Stocard app (Android, iOS) is a must-download. It digitizes all those scannable loyalty cards that have turned your wallet into a chiropractic nightmare and your keychain into a bloated, ridiculous ball of nonsense that you can’t even fit into your pocket anymore. The app houses hundreds of preloaded cards from popular stores, or you can add any card not already in the system by scanning it with your phone’s camera. Once everything’s loaded up, it’s time to exponentially slim down that wallet. And in the name of all that’s good in this world, get your keychain back in order.