Guilt-Free Shopping with CauseWorld

It's a sunny Spring afternoon, and I'm strolling past rows of fancy stores, sports bars and classy restaurants in downtown Walnut Creek, Calif., a shopping Mecca about 20 miles east of San Francisco. Tiffany & Co. on Main Street. Bing Crosby's in the Broadway Plaza. And Nieman Marcus coming soon.

Suddenly, I'm hit with a pang of shopper's guilt.

Surrounded by extraordinary excess-$255 for a shaving kit?-and confronted by my wasteful ways, I'm feeling like one of Holden Caulfield's phonies (thanks for many great reads, Mr. Salinger). Never mind I'm only window shopping because I really can't afford any of this.

So I whip out my iPhone and search for an app that will make me feel better. After all, that's why I carry an iPhone in the first place. Today's self-help app is CauseWorld, a clever app that turns retail marketing dollars into donations for good causes.

Feeding chimps in the Congo, while shopping in the Broadway Plaza.

Here's how it works: The app lets you collect karma points by "checking in" at stores and restaurants. Then you allocate karma points among 18 charities, including notable organizations like Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Foundation and The American Red Cross.