Your Ultimate Online Savings Toolkit

by Jennifer Jolly for GalTime.com

Online Savings Toolkit Online Savings Toolkit Maximize online savings

Want to score outrageously brag-worthy bargains this holiday season? Then skip the mall mayhem!

From making a list and checking it twice, here are the very best sites, services, and no-brainer tech tools to login, load-up, and start saving now!

1. Better Christmas List
Smartphone app organizes your gift list and keeps an eye on your budget

Ditch that coffee-stained list you scrawled out on the back of an envelope and take a page from the tech-savvy Santa playbook with the Better Christmas List app. Having this easy, intuitive, budget-conscious gift organizer in the palm of your hand is like having your very own elf! Just download, type in your gift list, organize it by groups (family, friends, co-workers), and set a budget. It even has a password-protected option to make sure your tech savvy kids don't take a peek!

2. Dealnews
Best of the latest crop of deals delivered straight to your screen

Dealnews.com answers the inevitable online holiday bargain-hunting question, where do I start? It's a free website dedicated to sorting out the best deals available on the hottest gifts, such as TV's, tablets, and computers. It sifts through some 2,000 retailers to pinpoint and verify the best bargains and then triple-checks that the prices are really as low as they can find! If you're on the hunt for one specific gadget or gift, be sure to sign up to get an email alert.

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3. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012
Quick security sweep to fend off holiday hackers and thieves

Cyber-scrooges are out in full force, armed with all kinds of new ways to rob you blind. Before you pull out that plastic and start spending, be sure your computer, laptop, or mobile device is virus and malware free, and that you're as protected as possible. AVG Anti-Virus is a top-notch free option, although I often recommend people upgrade to full protection all year -round. Also, take a few minutes and create bomb-proof passwords, install updates, make sure any site where you're entering credit card information begins with https, stay off public Wi-Fi, password protect all of your devices.

4. Decide
Deal or no deal? This site and mobile app helps predict, analyze and decide whether to buy now or buy later

How do you know whether that door-buster deal is worth all the fuss? Decide can help you answer the, buy now or buy later kinds of questions in a snap. It runs a specific item through the retail ringer - including historical best time to buy data, price fluctuations and comparable items. Download the free app and take it with you whenever you actually set foot in an electronics aisle.

5. Techbargains
Electronics sale tracking site with price comparisons, coupons, and great deals

Techbargains is an online deals site for electronics that collects all of the best sales, coupon and promo codes on popular tech items like laptops, tablets, TVs, smartphones, and digital cameras. Rather than spending hours surfing the web for what's on sale where, you can just start here.

6. Slickdeals
Community driven bargain hunting site and app great for finding electronics deals

Slickdeals.net is similar to Techbargains, in that it provides deals, coupons, and savings on hot tech toys and tools. But at Slickdeals, bargain-hunters tell each other where to find the best deals. It's like having a whole team of personal sale-spotters working for you.

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7. Best Decision
Social shopping app that lets your friends weigh in and allows you to check out, with one shopping cart

The Best Decision app is like Decide.com, with a personal twist. It connects you directly with your friends, allowing you to collect their opinions on something before you buy it. It also syncs up with your social network to help you find the right products, prices and features, either nearby or online. A new feature also lets you buy from two dozen different stores, like Wal-Mart, Amazon and Gilt, using a single shopping cart. Getting your friends' blessings before you buy that new HDTV? Worth its weight in gold. Entering your checkout information just one time for all your online purchases? Priceless.

8. Wantful
Gorgeous online gift-giving wizard helps you find the perfect gift

Intending to give someone the perfect present is one thing. Actually shopping, finding, remembering, wrapping and sending the gift is another issue altogether. Enter Wantful, a new online gift-givers - and receivers - dream come true. Sign up for free, answer a few questions about the person you're shopping for, and let Wantful create a customized catalogue with 16 different gifts the receiver can choose from. The catalog is can be sent through the mail or via email, along with a card, explaining to the recipient that they can pick their pleasure. Everyone wins!

9. PriceBlink
Provides instant, automatic price comparisons from 4,000+ merchants.

Once you have an idea of what to buy, a price comparison site like PriceBlink, eBay Sidebar, Invisible Hand, or Button for Amazon makes sure you've found the best possible price. Each is an extension that performs the arduous task of finding the lowest prices when you're shopping.

10. Karma
Send "real" gifts from an app on your phone to friends via text, Facebook, or e-mail

Forgot a gift needed for tomorrow? Just log onto Facebook to see that it's your office-mate's birthday? The Karma app can assist you will giving a great gift in about five minutes. In fact, you could get all of your holiday shopping done in about ten minutes using this beautifully designed social gift-giving app. It lets you choose from a variety of swanky gifts like a $50 spa package, wines, and food baskets.

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11. Greentoe
Name your own price electronics e-tailer

You want a new HDTV for the holidays, but don't want to spend more than $300? Then go to Greentoe! Name the price they're willing to pay for that new electronics must-have, and the site's certified retail partners decide whether to match the offer. The site features 15,000 products from smaller retailers such as Electronics Express, Focus Camera, and from the Amazon Marketplace.

12. Ebates
Get paid to shop online

Ebates is a no-brainer. If all you do is start your holiday shopping at eBates.com, you'll get access to coupons and discounts of up to 50% off from more than 1500 stores and you'll also get a certain amount of money that you've spent back! You can basically get paid to shop at stores you're buying from anyway, like Target, Macy's, and Overstock. From the biggest name retailers to specialty shops, Ebates earns a commission from your selected retailers they then split with you! No rebate forms to fill out, no points or miles to redeem. Every few months, Ebates will send you a check. Ebates also owns FatWallet, which alerts you to special coupon codes, free shipping offers, calls out the online doorbusters and whether there are additional rebates associated with items.

13. ShopKick
Get paid to shop, or just browse, in a store

If you plan to do a little showrooming, window shopping, or even just set foot in a store at all this holiday season, ShopKick is an app you'll want to have in hand. You just walk in a store and earn points (called "kicks"). The kicks can be redeemed for a reward, such as a free drink at Starbucks, new sweater from Old Navy, or even a Coach handbag.

14. Google Shopper
The big boys

While I've given you a lot of new tools for bargain hunting this holiday, don't forget the big guys like Google Shopper, Bing Shopping, Amazon Price Check and eBay Mobile. They each possess so much coverage; I won't go into each one specifically. Google Shopper lets you do more, like snap photos of a book cover or video game in addition to scanning barcodes to find the best price online and in-stores near you. It also lets you buy daily deals right from the app, unless the best deal is from Amazon, which Google doesn't show you at all (huge con). Bing provides a really comprehensive comparison tool whenever you're browsing items online, but can be out-of-date on specific deals. Amazon Mobile also lets you scan a barcode and find the best prices, from Amazon affiliates. EBay Mobile lets you buy and bid on items, set up to sell your own items, and monitor auctions from anywhere. It lets you save multiple listings, calculate shipping costs and fill in various forms throughout the process.

15. Offers.com
Great way to find discounts on Mac products

It's tough to get a deal on the latest iPad or iPhone. Year after year, Apple takes 5% to 10% off iPads, iPods, MacBooks, and iMacs during its Black Friday sale. But at offers.com, you can find discount codes and coupons for retailers like MacMall, and MacConnection, where you can find up to 20% off or more on a number of Apple products.

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16. Key Ring
App stashes all of your loyalty and rewards cards so you don't have to dig around for them anymore

Loyalty cards can save you money, but how often do you turn them down because you don't want another fob on your keychain or card to lug around? This app lets you snap a photo of the barcode with your smartphone. When you're ready to buy something, simply log back into Key Ring, select a card, and let the cashier scan it from your screen. It takes about 30-seconds to use, which is less than it takes me to dig around in my wallet for rewards card.

17. Gift Card Granny
Gift card reseller

Six out of every ten people say they want a gift card more than anything else this year. With Gift Card Granny, you can purchase other shoppers' unused gift cards for as much as 50% off the normal price, or sell back the gift cards that you never got around to using. The service recently launched a free app to make it easier to find deals on gift cards while on the go.

18. Red Laser
Barcode background check on items to find sales, use loyalty cards, and buy from your smartphone

Red Laser lets you scan the barcode of just about anything to find out if it's on sale for a lower price anywhere else. With so many retailers are offering price-matching this year, you might be able to show the Red Laser results right to a salesclerk to get the better price at checkout. You can also scan in loyalty cards for certain supermarket and drugstore chains, so you can simply hand over your phone to the cashier instead of carrying a bunch of cards. Red Laser also lets you buy items within the app from retailers like Toys R Us and Best Buy.

19. ShopSavvy
Barcode scanner sniffs out the best price, and sends an alert for when something goes on sale

Use your smartphone camera to scan a product's barcode and ShopSavvy will find the lowest price for it on the internet, as well as shows you the prices at local brick-and-mortar stores. The "Deals" feature provides shipping promotions, coupon codes, and other ways to nab what you want for less, while "Price Alerts" allows you to set your buying price and receive alerts when the product dips below your threshold.

20. ShopRunner
Free two-day shipping service

December 17th is Free Shipping Day, when hundreds of stores waive shipping costs and promise to get all the gifts where they need to be by Christmas Eve. ShopRunner is a service that makes every day "free shipping day" - sort of. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial of ShopRunner, and it will send your stuff in 48-hours at no charge and provide free shipping on returns. If you cancel it before that initial 30-days, they'll give you 90 more days for free. Use it three times in those three months, and you'll get the whole year (a $79 value) free!

21. Slice
App that organizes and keeps track of all your online purchases

Slice scours your inbox for online orders, helps you keep track of shipping, and sends alerts when there's a price drop on something you just purchased. It's like having a personal organizer for all your online shopping!

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