On the Money

Back to school shopping's new twist: Retail apps with discounts

Back to school savings

The back-to-school shopping season is on, and this year, families will be spending more than ever.

According to the National Retail Federation K-12 and college spending will reach $75.8 billion dollars, up from last year's $68 billion. According to the NRF, it's the second biggest consumer spending season for retailers after the winter holidays.

Although families may be less worried about the economy than in the past, they are still looking for bargains. Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother told CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview about several mobile apps to discover discounts.

One of her favorites is RetailMeNot. Users can check the app for discounts for their favorite stores, and then apply those coupon codes to their shopping cart. Owens adds you can save coupons for later use and sign up for alerts on deals from your chosen stores.

Back-to-school shopping at a Target store in Chicago.
Getty Images

But if you're old-school, and still like cutting coupons out of the paper — there's an app to help ease you into the digital age. SnipSnap lets people scan clipped coupons right into their phone.

This way folks don't have to carry around all their clipped coupons. Another perk Owens says the app offers is organization.

"It's going to sort them for you by expiration date, and region. All that stuff that's in your phone [and] they can put to work for you," Owens said.

Pedestrians walk past an Old Navy store in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

If store circulars are more your thing, an app called Retale will collect all the circulars in your area. So for the next trip to the mall, Owens says you can flip through store circulars like Macy's or JCPenny's right from your phone.

Like loyalty clubs? She says an app called Flok helps people find businesses with loyalty programs. Approximately 100,000 retailers participate and Owens says you can set it up to send you alerts when you are near a store with a deal.

But if you would rather see cash back than earn reward points, Ebates may be the app for you.

Similar to cash back reward programs on credit cards, Ebates offers cash back on purchases for going through their app. Ebates benefits by being able to track where you shop.

Owens says she recently used the app when she did her online shopping at Old Navy for her son.

"I'll go into Ebates, it will track if Ebates has an online deal for Old Navy or any coupons. And you don't do anything else," Owens explained. "It will take you right back to Old Navy [website], and you get the cash back."

Currently the app offers 2 percent cash back on Old Navy purchases.

She added that "every month I get what's literally called a "Big Fat Check" which is about $15-20 in our house, and I'll take it."

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.