The Fru-Gal: If the mall isn’t magical, shop with these apps


When I was a girl I went to the mall to buy my presents during the holiday season, but what I remember most is looking at all the beautiful decorations, from window displays to majestic exhibits of lights. It was an experience I shared with my mother while we shopped.

Today I have to say I don’t head to the mall for my shopping. Most of the time I do all my shopping online. I did go to the mall last holiday season, but there wasn’t a warm fuzzy feeling of holiday magic, only crowds and a lack of parking spaces.

In recent years, through various mobile devices, consumers are getting great deals right from their living rooms. Black Friday deals are starting right now online. Does this signal an end to the shopping mall or department stores? A desire for “instant gratification” or “instant ownership” in today’s society will always ensure you will have a brick-and-mortar store to visit, so you may feel, touch and try on, then leave with that item.

On the other hand, many people prefer to know they have gotten the best deal available even if they have to wait for a package to arrive. With today’s online shopping presence, it can be overwhelming checking for those deals.

These apps can help you with all aspects of your shopping.

Santa’s Bag helps you track your gift-list progress, set a budget for each recipient and organize gifts by store to avoid multiple trips.

ShopAdvisor will keep tabs on your item’s price and alert you if it drops, so you’ll know just the right time to buy for the biggest savings.

If you are going to the mall or a shopping center, RetailMeNot coupons and discounts will use geolocation to send you notifications with coupons at the stores closest to you.

Shop local

I do not want to discourage you from visiting your local small businesses. Online you cannot experience the pride of local owners that comes across with delightful customer service and passion about their products. This is one time where being frugal gets outweighed by an enjoyable shopping experience that also helps your local economy.

On Nov. 28, American Express is promoting Small Business Saturday. Take the time to explore your downtown, where many businesses will have special promotions. Make it a shopping experience with friends or family.

Dates to remember during the holiday season are:

Nov. 27: Black Friday

Nov. 28: Small Business Saturday

Nov. 30: Cyber Monday

Dec. 18: Free Shipping Day

More holiday savings

Save time this holiday season by trying out Kroger’s new online grocery ordering service called ClickList.

You may shop online and pick up your order at the store without having to leave your car. There is a $4.95 fee for using this system, but Kroger is waiving the fee for your first three orders. Right now there are only a few Krogers stores that have this system in place. This new way of shopping might save you time, while also giving you sale prices along with your downloaded digital coupons. Find the feature at

Don’t forget about your free Friday Kroger Download each week, when you may download a digital coupon for a free product. This Friday is Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe 4 piece.

▪ If your kids love Hot Wheels, sign up for the free Hot Wheels Race Rewards Program and score instant points for purchasing participating Hot Wheels products available at your local Wal-Mart. Just shop participating Hot Wheels products at Wal-Mart, snap a photo of the receipt to verify your purchase, and then choose from a variety of exclusive Hot Wheels rewards: .

▪ Sign up for a Do-It Herself Workshop at Home Depot from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. This month they are teaching you how to build a wooden stocking hanger.

▪ Be kind and send a friend a card redeemable for a free healthy and tasty Kind Bar.

▪ Panda Express is offering $3 off any purchase of $5 or more when you place an online order or order via the mobile app. Just use promotional code HONEY at checkout.

▪ Enter the reward code from any Coke product at until Friday, and you will get double the rewards.

▪ This week, get a free $10 Target gift card when you make a food or beverage purchase of $50 or more at Target. Just text FOOD to 827438 to get the mobile coupon.

▪ , Through Saturday, trade in an Xbox 360 at participating Targets and buy an Xbox One and get a $100 Target Gift Card. Visit to learn more. Also, Target is offering a free game with the purchase of an Xbox One (excludes Battlefront, Rock Band 4, Guitar Hero Live and Fallout4).

▪ Every Monday through Dec. 7, Starbucks Reward Members may enjoy special holiday offers from 2 to 5 p.m. whenever you pay with your Starbucks App or registered card. Next Monday, enjoy a free holiday bakery item when you buy a holiday beverage. Visit

▪ Through Saturday, Walgreens has a great deal to help you print your Christmas cards: get $10 off photo card orders of $25 or more when you use the coupon code TENOFFCARDS. You can even get same-day pickup.

Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Visit her website,