The key is finding the lowest prices without driving yourself crazy driving around to every sale. 7 On Your Side discovered how to find the lowest prices with the least amount of hassle.
It's that time of year again. Kids are shaking off the sands of summer, heading back to school, and hitting up mom for new gear.
"She says I spend too much, so she's telling me to dial it back and save money," Danae Kimble said.
"I just go in the store and I want everything," High school student Kala Jones said.
And it isn't just paper and pencils kids want.
"Shoes. Shoes, Vans, and they're expensive," Aptos resident Amy Anderson said.
"You know he's constantly always wanting to update his wardrobe. Has to try to impress the girls," Mill Valley resident Jim Burness said.
Burness and his son Bryon plan to shop for some impressive clothes, but limit spending to $200.
"I think the apps are really handy if you're looking for a very particular thing," Jody Rohlena said.
Rohlena of Consumer Reports' Shop Smart Magazine is a partner of 7 on Your Side and says Indeed shopping apps and websites can really help you find bargains.
"You can use say PriceGrabber, it's a great website and also a great app to find out who is selling at the lowest price," she said.
PriceGrabber is a free app that searches prices for specific products. Randomly, we looked for Converse High Tops. The app finds a huge price range from $39.99 to $60. Same shoes different stores. It was Converse offering the best deal.
Next, we looked up the Samsung Galaxy tablet. That showed a narrower price range from $368 to $399.
Rohlena also recommends an app called RetailMeNot. It lets you type in the name of a store and find all the coupons and discounts offered there.
"Oh 15 percent off student and teacher discount, hey," San Francisco Lowell High School student Nataly Perez said.
Some students at the mall found coupons from H&M and many other stores right on their phone.
"Oh up to 80 percent off. Hey that's so good," Perez said.
PriceBlink is a free browser you can install on your PC or Mac.
"PriceBlink is very cool because it kind of automates the deal finding for you," Rohler said.
The way it works is, you shop online and PriceBlink searches 11, 000 online retailers to find the lowest price for your item.
"This will pop up when you're shopping online and tell you, hey there's a cheaper price on that item someplace else," Rohler said.
For example, we looked for a MacBook Air Case. The Apple store has it for $39.99. PriceBlink found the same case on Ebay for $16.95.
And a Texas Instruments calculator sells for $104 at Best Buy, but PriceBlink finds it cheaper. It was $70 on Ebay, $82 on Amazon, $88 at Walmart.
However, PriceBlink did not find lower prices for every item we searched. And Rohlena warns, before you buy check shipping costs and return policies.
"If you pay for shipping it's not a great deal. If you're ordering something online and they have a really restrictive return policy, it's not the best buy," she said.
Still, seeing deals made some students think twice.
"Oh we go anywhere and we buy things at whatever price. I mean I guess it's good to know what's like on sale and what's not," Perez said.
These are just three of the tools you can use to find instant savings and coupons. There are plenty of other free apps and websites that also can zero in on bargains.