Image: Woman with shopping bags © Tanya Constantine, Getty Images

In this tough economy, consumers are laser-focused on finding ways to stretch their budgets, and their best tool may be in their pockets.

There are a number of smartphone applications that can help you to organize your shopping, track your spending, and let you know that you're walking away with the best deal available.

"Shoppers are looking for deals before they are looking at brands," said Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys, a brand- and customer-loyalty research consultancy in New York City.

About 60% of shoppers will use online shopping and price-comparison applications to hunt down the best deals, Passikoff said.

We've gathered up 10 of the best apps to help you save money this holiday season. Most of the apps listed here are free and widely available across multiple smartphone platforms.

No doubt, shoppers will also want to look for apps from their favorite retailers and even daily deal sites such as Groupon, Gilt Groupe, and Living Social. There also are apps, including CheckPoints and Shopkick, that allow consumers to earn points while they shop.

Read on to discover some of the best shopping apps out there for saving you money.

Gift List

Developer: Gennubi

One of the best ways to save money is to start with a budget, and Gift List allows you to do just that.

It's not the only app out there that can help you create a budget, but it's one of the easiest. Its simplicity also makes it more likely that you will keep using it throughout the hectic holiday season.

So before you hit the mall or fire up the computer, set up a budget for all the people on your gift list, then make note of the gifts you want to buy and how much they cost, and Gift List will keep a running tally, making it easy to see if you are about to bust the bank.

If you want other features such as password protection (to keep prying eyes from spying what you've purchased), or a checklist of what gifts have been wrapped and mailed, or the ability to email the list to someone, you might want to consider other apps, such as mSeven Software's Gift List Manager, which offers some of these features for a small fee.


Developer: MindSmack

With gifts to buy and places to go, the last thing you want to do during the holiday season is lose precious minutes trying to hunt down a restroom at the local mall.

FastMall has maps and allows interactive navigation at more than 1,250 malls across the country, and it is adding adding updates and new locations all the time.

In addition to directing you to the nearest restroom, FastMall can help you pick the quickest route to your favorite store. You can even tell it to find the fastest route using elevators if you're navigating the holiday crowds with a stroller.

Because signal strength can be a problem inside stores, FastMall downloads the map to the mobile phone for as long as the user remains logged in. This way the map is always there to be a guide.

If you record your favorite stores, the app will send you special deals that you can take advantage of while you're at the mall.

And don't worry about losing your car in the parking lot. FastMall can help you hunt it down.

TGI Black Friday

Developer: Ecatcher

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, and advertisements for the Black Friday deals are already beginning.

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This app allows you to easily scan the Black Friday ads for all major retailers before they show up in the your local paper and to make a personal shopping list with a touch of a finger.

The app also makes it easy to share deals with other people by email, compare prices to make sure you're getting the best deal, and shop online for products that may be available before Black Friday.

You can even set up push notifications to alert you when a new ad is posted.