Technology has made spending money is far too easy. Just take out your debit or credit card, swipe, and you’re poorer. The Internet is even worse, as websites like Amazon help you empty out your wallet with just one click.
There are some ways technology can help, however, including through apps for your smartphone and tablet. Since your smartphone is always with you, it’s a great resource for monitoring your budget, calculating interest or finding coupons. Here are 10 apps that can keep help your savings account grow.
You’ve probably heard of Mint already, but if you haven’t used it, you’re missing out. Now owned by Intuit of Quickbooks and Turbotax fame, Mint can sync with your checking account, credit cards, student loans, auto loans and more, providing a full picture of your financial situation.
Once you’ve added accounts, you can create a budget, and Mint will email when you’re over-budget in any area. Goals can be entered, too, so you can create an emergency fund or save a down payment for a big purchase. You can also use mint from a desktop browser at the Mint.com website. Read our full review of Mint for the iPad.
While Mint is our main recommendation for budgeting on your mobile device, it’s not perfect. Some people don’t trust it with all their information, while others have encountered bugs. HomeBudget is a nice alternative if you decide you don’t like Mint.
The app features everything you would expect from a financial management app, including expense reports, spending charts, and recurring payment tracking. There are also a few additional unexpected features, like the ability to photograph purchase receipts for your records or sync the app between multiple devices belonging to multiple people.
The money you spend on fuel can put a serious dent in your budget, but Gas Buddy can help you save by directing you to gas stations where fuel is less expensive. You may find that taking 20 or 30 cents off per gallon only requires that you drive a few blocks further, and over the course of a year you can save hundreds.
Loan Repayment Calculators
These are actually a pair of apps, one for Android, one for iOS, which appear to be unrelated despite sharing a name. Both are very simple, providing only basic features like calculation of interest and amortization table. Because they’re so simple, you can quickly calculate what the interest on a purchase will cost you, which can help decide if buying on credit or loan is really a good idea.
Another simple app, Savings Goals is, of course, designed to help you save. You can enter goals in the app alongside the amount of money you wish to pay towards the goal each month, and the app will generate a payment schedule for you. Then, as you pay towards your goal, the schedule is automatically updated to reflect your over (or under) payment.
Download: Savings Goals for iOS ($0.99)
There are a lot of coupon apps, but my personal favorite is RetailMeNot. The app uses your GPS location to inform you of deals nearby, and provides information about whether or not the coupon is also valid online. The best deals available are highlighted, or you can search by retailer. While it’s important to remember you can’t spend money to save money, this app can point you towards the least expensive source for a must-have purchase, like work clothes or auto parts.
Craigslist has an app? Why yes, it does – many, in fact! Everyone’s favorite online classifieds site has caught up with the times, making it easier for you to save money by finding and purchasing pre-loved goods. Or you could hit up the jobs section, and find a position that pays better!
The best Craigslist app for iOS is simply called Craigslist, while the best for Android is called cPRO. Both are free.
Download: cPRO Android (Free)
Groceries are another common expense that everyone must plan for. But, as with fuel for your car, fuel for your body can be purchased for less if you know where to look.
That’s where GroceryIQ comes in. This app includes a large database of items from various retailers, along with prices, so you can decide which market will stretch your dollar further. The app also has a coupon finder, so you can see whether there’s any offers available for the food you’re purchasing. Check out our full GroceryIQ review.
This app from Mastercard can help you locate nearby ATMs that won’t charge you a fee, which will help you save money a few bucks at a time. You don’t nessicarily have to use this app, though; a lot of other ATM networks also have apps (as do banks and building societies), so you may want to search for or ask your bank about the app that’s best for you. Examples include Allpoint.
Download: ATM Hunter for iOS.
These ten apps should help you budget, set spending and savings goals, find inexpensive gas and groceries, and even avoid ATM charges. Yes, whipping out your credit card is easy; but as these apps show, technology can help you save as easily as it helps you spend.
Add any of your favourite apps, services or good old advice in the comments, below.