The following is a guest post by Julia Peterson.
When a family has to tighten up their finances, often getting out and having fun together is the first thing to get scratched out of the budget. While there are plenty of free ways to have fun together, there are also some great mobile couponing apps that can make room on your budget for things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
Here are a few of the best options for Android and iPhone (based on the broadest reach and the deepest discounts – and of course, all these apps are free!)
1. Scoutmob (Android, iOS)
Scoutmob has an interesting business model—all deals they offer are a full 50% off the purchase price, so you don’t need to worry about the fine print on any particular deal. The app is primarily focused on quality restaurants, but it also has the odd deal from a concert hall, museum, theater, etc. Feeding a family at a restaurant can become prohibitively expensive in a hurry, especially if you’re trying to tighten your budget; but the ability to cut your bill clean in half can make it a lot less painful. If you want an app with diverse entertainment options, Scoutmob might not be the best pick; but if you’re specifically hunting for a restaurant, this app should be your first stop. (Cost: free)
2. Groupon (Android, iOS)
Groupon is a great option for high-end entertainment that you’d usually have to save up for—day trips, concerts, theme parks, even specialty offers like hang gliding or hot air ballooning. By committing to bring in a certain number of customers, Groupon negotiates surprisingly deep discounts for family-friendly events in most major cities. Bigger cities, of course, have more frequent and diverse deals, but just about anyone who lives near a major metro area should check out Groupon. The app has an easy-to-use interface, and you can access coupons direct from your phone without having to print them. The only downside is that you have to “buy” the deal from Groupon (i.e. pay the discounted rate for the service) ahead of time. (Cost: free)
3. LivingSocial (Android, iOS)
LivingSocial is the main competitor with Groupon; it works almost identically to Groupon, but because it is a copycat service, it has a smaller geographic reach, and is associated with fewer businesses. LivingSocial’s ace-in-the-hole is its partnership with Amazon, which allows you to secure discounts on some products as well as services (our family got our T-Mobile LG cell phones for half off from this app, without a plan or signup fee). Of course, since both apps are free, and negotiate deals with different companies, there is no reason not to download both, broadening the scope of offers available to you every week. If you have to pick one, Groupon is the better option; but why would you have to pick just one? (Cost: free)
4. DealChicken (Android, iOS)
DealChicken is another smaller competitor with Groupon. Like LivingSocial, it offers discounts on products and services, usually around 50% off; but DealChicken is unique in offering deals within a huge price range—from $10 off your sub sandwich, to $1,670 off a 12-day Cambodian cycling tour. Obviously most families’ vacation plans won’t be as ambitious as that, but if you do want to plan ahead for a big, exotic vacation like a cruise or week-long beach getaway, DealChicken is your best bet. Most of the deals on the app are comparable to what you might find on Scoutmob or Groupon, so it doesn’t hurt to have an extra batch of offers to check out while you plan. (Cost: free)
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.