A Stress-Free Holiday Is Only One App Away
Special to CNBC.com
The holiday season starts earlier and earlier every year, but it never seems like you actually have more time, does it?
Plenty of smartphone and tablet apps can save you money, but many more can also save you time — and during the holiday season, time is money. Financial planners say that shoppers who devise a strategy are less likely to waste money and make budget-blowing, last-minute purchases. (Read More: How to Avoid Falling into the Christmas Debt Pit)
Streamlining your price comparisons, keeping tabs on your budget and staying up-to-date on sales are a few of the tasks that apps can take off your hands. It only takes a little time to get familiar with the apps, and the time savings will pay off in the long run.
We've pulled together a few apps that can help you get through your shopping and get to the part that really matters: enjoying your friends and family during the holidays.
Available for iPhone and Android
Online shopping during the holidays can turn the average household into a package-processing center. Consider Slice your handheld operations hub.
This free app tracks your online orders and sends push notifications when your purchases ship and arrive. You can view shipments by item or order, so you know which products will arrive together.
You can also access all of your receipts from one tab, and Slice will keep a record of what you bought for friends and family, making it easy to stick to your budget and to plan next year's purchases.
Slice will alert you to price drops on items you've ordered, so you don't have to set aside time to compare costs, and take advantage of price-matching guarantees. It also tracks your daily deal vouchers from Groupon, Living Social and other coupon services so you don't forget to use them during the hectic holidays. (Read More: Merry Christmas! Let's Make a Deal)
Slice works by syncing with your email accounts. That's no problem so long as all your shipment alerts go to one inbox. If not, you won't get a holistic view of your holiday shopping. The app works with Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL or iCloud/MobileMe.
Available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone
Smartphones have taken cost comparisons to a new level, but RedLaser is one of the best apps to help you save both money and time.
If you're at the store, scan a barcode with RedLaser to compare prices at thousands of retailers. RedLaser will call up prices at nearby stores on a map. This little feature will help you decide whether the savings are worth the trip. Armchair shoppers can arrange to have purchases delivered or set aside at a local store.
If you're not set on a particular brand, RedLaser can suggest similar products. And if you need a little something extra to go with a gift, the app will offer accessory ideas, saving you time on research.
You can also create and share gift lists and wish lists, making it easy to tick off items.