The Secrets to Becoming a Money Saving Tech-pert

Did you satisfy your Black Friday fix? Call me jaded…lazy even…but the idea of braving the odiferous bouquet of gravy-stained, sales mad, post-Thanksgiving hordes all lined up and ready to do battle for "just three per store" sales items at pre-dawn hours didn't exactly set my backside in motion the day after Thanksgiving this year. Or maybe it is because this year's goal has been more about saving money than spending it, with the differences between "want" versus "need" being more evident than ever. So today we'd like to shine a light on several money saving solutions and online resources today that will help you stretch out those dollars though the holiday season and well into the new year...For many, half the fun (or stress) of shopping is the browsing, planning and list making before the actual purchasing. But did you know you can now browse store catalogs on your iPad? Of course, there's an app for that. The free Catalogs.com for iPad app lets you browse from a selection of retailers like MacConnection, Home Depot, and Petco, with some special discounts offered via the app's "Today Savings' tab. We especially like this digital delivery system as a way of reducing paper waste, but we're guessing it may take a smidgen of the fun out of receiving those Victoria Secret catalogs.
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If you're responsible for purchasing gifts for a large group or organization, utilizing a gift list app may come in handy in keeping track of "who" receives "what", all the while staying on a budget. The Gifts HD app has a playful interface that offers a surprisingly robust amount of utility for tracking multiple gift recipients in accordance to how much you want to spend, working like a cross between your usual crazy chicken scratches notebook, sticky notes, mixed with some useful tools like a budget tracker and calculator. There's even a countdown to Christmas and Chanukah feature, just in case you'd like to add another layer of pre-holiday jitters.
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Designed to help those of us whose math skills were left to die somewhere back in the 11th grade, the PercentageOff app is a free utility that makes figuring out sales discounts an elementary task. Just enter the original price, swipe down to the sales percentage, and the app calculates the discounted price. The Sale Saver solves the same task as a sales calculator, except it's also able to work with those "take an additional X% off" figures after the initial sales discount and factors in tax rates into your final price.

Recently we spotlighted two price comparison apps from Milo and Amazon (sounds remarkably like an animated feature, doesn't it?). Considering Amazon carries just about everything in the world being sold today, utilizing their database to compare prices between real world scanned or photographed items versus their online counterparts is a smart way to make sure you're getting the best price on that boxed set of Murder She Wrote for grandma. It was impressive how well the snapshot feature worked with packaging and the barcode feature is nearly as impressive.

Not all shopping these days is via traditional or online stores. Some of our favorite buys come way of Craigslist. But knowing how to navigate the wild world of Craigslist isn't always easy for the uninitiated, so we've put together a detailed Secrets of Craigslist guide, helpful for both buyers and sellers.

Do you know who is a treasury of great ideas and tips? You, our readers, that's who! Check out the recommendations that came from our archives of reader comments (and the additional ones included in this past post). What's up for debate amongst our readers is whether second hand gift cards offer a legitimate way to save money for gift giving or a hotbed of fraudulent activity to avoid.

And finally, sometimes saving money is simply a game of just knowing where or whom to buy from. This is especially true when it comes to bafflingly price-inflated items like HDMI, optical and other A/V cables sold at many chain retailers. Both Mr. T and I pity the fools who buy overpriced A/V cables, when Monoprice.com, Amazon and CablesforLess.com sell extremely affordable options compared to big box brands. Save those extra dollars for a Groupon for that local interpretive dance ensemble stage show or nude skydiving lesson you've always wanted instead.

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