10 apps to manage Black Friday mayhem

Retailers have upped the Black Friday ante with more and bigger sales on the classically American retail holiday that used to arrive the day after Thanksgiving. This year the shopping frenzy starts early Thursday evening, at about pumpkin pie o’clock, and the 30-hour marathon of staggered sales and promotions is enough to leave even the most professional shopper frazzled.

So we bring out the apps. There are apps to find bargains, track spending, find parking, make lists and collect rewards for spending big. In the end, the apps may just add noise to the biggest shopping day of the year. But if you’re looking to arm yourself against the mall mayhem, these 10 hand-sized weapons may be worth a spin.

And, hey, unlike most everything else on Black Friday, they’re free.

1. BradsDeals – BradsDeals.com, a leader in online coupons and discounts, has a Black Friday app that shows leaked ads and all of the discounted items at major retailers.

2. dealnews — Lets you browse leaked ads and track bargains that might be better than Black Friday discounts.

3. Fat Wallet — A forum-type listing of new and expired discounts.

4. Mint — Tracks purchases and helps users  see what they’ve spent in the past and set realistic goals. Users can check bank account balances and credit cards, and set up alerts when funds run low.

5. paperphobic — No more George Costanza wallet. This app lets you snap an photo of your receipts and email, archive and organize them by expense type.

6. ParkNow — Book a parking spot in advance. Only works in San Francisco. (And it only works when there are parking spots actually available.) Bonuses include discounted parking rates, valet service or car wash.

7. ShopKick – Rack up points for spending and put them toward new purchases, anything from a Starbucks latte to designer jeans.

8. Waze — If you’ve been to the madhouse at the newly opened Paragon Outlets, which boasted 350,000 visitors its first weekend and created a traffic snarl miles down the interstate, you know the value of a decent shortcut. Waze lets drivers share real-time traffic and road info, helping you map out the easiest route to the mall and hopefully saving some gas money (so you have more to shop with).

9. Wunderlist – Keep track of  store openings, sale times, promotions and your shopping lists with this task management app.

10. ZingSale — Not officially an app, but an email alert to let you know when the stuff you want goes on sale at the price you want.  More than a comparison shopping engines, the service will continue to monitor the item you want until it falls to the price you requested.

Heather Somerville Heather Somerville (188 Posts)

Heather Somerville reports on consumer affairs, retail and technology for the Bay Area News Group. She lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys rock climbing, yoga and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.