October 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm
by Christina Tynan-Wood
Looking for a new dentist, plumber, coffee shop, or gym? Check out my recent column on crowd sourcing every decision. With a few taps on a smartphone or a visit to the right website, you can get quick advice from the crowd outside your window on every decision–big ones about colleges and doctors or small ones like where your next coffee fix is coming from. And once you start tapping all that collective wisdom, you might also discover (as I have since I wrote that column) that you can also save a lot of money while you’re at it. And I don’t mean saving money by getting great recommendations, either. I am talking about getting stuff for free or at a big discount.
For example, I use Foursquare as a tool for getting a quick recommendation on a meal. I am planning to be in San Francisco in a few weeks so I went to Foursquare online this morning to see where my friends there have been going recently. With a few clicks, I can view the current faves among my friends (or all people on Foursquare if I don’t have a lot of friends in a place) on a map. It took only a few minutes. And now I can show up in town already knowing what the latest fad ice cream or coffee shop is.
I also use Foursquare to get discounts and freebies from places I go to often. I work in a bustling downtown area and I often step out of my office to grab a cup of coffee, lunch, or a drink with my husband or friends after work. None of the places I like are far from my office so I sometimes hit Foursquare right from my desk to look for specials nearby. A free cupcake? A $1 pint of beer? A half-price dinner? These can all be had for a quick check-in. Or, when I sit down at new place, I open Foursquare on my phone to see if there are any specials. Sometimes, this three-second trick gets me a free dessert or drink. And if I go to a place often, checking in every time can easily lead to becoming Mayor. And Mayors get all sorts of free stuff. I don’t use this strategy only for eating out either. I was recently standing in line at a Gap Outlet waiting to pony up for a skirt that was already on sale and a great deal. But, since I was doing nothing as I waited, I checked Foursquare for specials. Sure enough, simply checking in with a tap on my smartphone got me another $5 off at check out.
Today, I’m getting a free cupcake for my daughter, buying my husband a drink with $1, and collecting a one-day pass for a health club I’ve been wanting to try out.
Is your smart phone helping you save money? Share how you get deals on your smartphone in the comments below.
Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.” You can find her at GeekGirlfriends.com, as well as here on Momster.com. Follow me on Twittter!