It’s hard to be stuck in a two- or three-year smartphone contract when you’re trying to save money, but if you put that plan to use with couponing and budgeting apps, you might be surprised at how much money you can save. Here are a few of our favorite coupon apps for Android and iPhone—they’re fun, free, and they can help you significantly cut down the cost of groceries and other essentials.

1. The Coupons App (Android, iOS)
The Coupons App is our favorite coupon aggregator because of its broad scope: it can help you find cheaper gas, home appliances, restaurants, and groceries. It includes a barcode scanner, so you can check up on any item at the store to see if it’s worth chasing down a better deal at another store. Also helpful is the text/email sharing of coupons, so you can send coupons to your spouse if you need to add something to the list after they’ve left. (Cost: free)

2. Red Laser (Android, iOS)
This app has a barcode scanner similar to The Coupons App, but Red Laser shines in the depth of information it provides. You can find cheaper prices and available coupons, but you can also check any grocery item for nutrition facts, allergen information, and product ratings—knowing the price is right isn’t much help if other things about the product are wrong. Also handy for bookworms is the library feature—scan any book at the store, and Red Laser can help you check availability or even reserve a copy from your smartphone. (Cost: free)

3. Grocery Smarts Coupon Shopper (Android)
This app is ugly, but its focus and sophistication are just about unmatched. It cross-references every available coupon on the item you scan, including store coupons, manufacturers’ coupons, and applicable third-party deals to find the lowest possible price for the product. It also allows you to sort your shopping list by the available deals’ star ratings, so you know whether your coupons are really providing the kind of savings you’re looking for. It also adds up the expected price of your shopping list for you, along with your savings, so you have real figures to look at when you budget. Some display bugs have been reported on tablet PCs, but my family runs it on our T-Mobile Android tablet with no trouble. It’s still harsh and unsightly, but it works just fine. (Cost: free)

4. Grocery Pal (Android, iOS)
Grocery Pal is similar to Grocery Smarts, with a much classier look. You can also back up multiple shopping lists on Grocery Pal’s servers, so you and your spouse have access to the same information on multiple devices. The only real difficulty with the app is selection—they don’t participate with as many stores as some of our other apps, so check ahead of time to make sure your favorite retailers are featured. (Cost: free)

5. Groupon (Android, iOS)
If you want coupons more particularly focused on entertainment, check out Groupon. This app can fit big ideas into your family’s budget, like concerts, day trips, theme parks, even exotic activities like hot air ballooning or parasailing. You can access coupons direct from your phone, so no printing or clipping. The only negative to Groupon’s model is the need to pay Groupon ahead of time for each deal you accept. (Cost: free)

6. DealChicken (Android, iOS)
DealChicken is like Groupon, offering high-end entertainment, usually around 50% off; but DealChicken’s offers cover a gigantic price range, from half-off a sandwich at a restaurant, to thousands of dollars off cruises and overseas vacations. Obviously you won’t use those big deals very often, but it’s nice to know they’re around when you need them. (Cost: free)

Julia Peterson is a writer for, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.

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