Sometimes life is too busy to save money.
Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Kids, appointments, work, errands. When you’re exhausted, hungry, and busy, you just can’t bring yourself to think about finances.
Instead of looking for that cheaper option at the grocery store, so you grab the brand. You could probably find free parking, but you’re busy, so you pay a garage.
We all do it. But saving those nickels and dimes can make a huge difference in the long run.
That’s where these nifty phone apps come in handy. They’re free, easy to use, and help save those extra dollars when life is too busy.
Let’s dive right in.
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1. Mint (Save Money by Budgeting)
Mint is a budgeting app that puts all of your finances into one location. It links all of your accounts – banks, credit cards, loans, etc – and displays them in one place.
It displays all of your financial information in an easy-to-understand graph. This format helps you see the big picture of your money – where you’re spending too much, how much money is left in your budget, etc.
Check out this screenshot:
Mint is available on Apple products and Android. And Mint has device carryover, which means you can view the same information on your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet.
If you update the information on your phone, you can look at your laptop and see the same information update.
Mint sends alerts through email or SMS (Short Message Service) to let you know when a bill is due. Super helpful when life is crazy and you forgot your credit card bill was due.
Mint also sends out weekly summary emails to let you know what happened in the past week with your finances.
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It’s like a personal secretary for your finances in your pocket.
2. Ibotta (Save Money Grocery Shopping)
Ibotta is a phone app that enables you to earn cash back when you spend money in-store and online. It’s fantastic for saving money when buying groceries.
Here’s how it works:
• Down the free app, and create an account.
• Before going to the store, check out Ibotta to see which items will give you cash back.
• After your shopping trip, take a photo of the receipt, and scan the barcode of the product.
• Cash is deposited to your Ibotta account.
Yup. It’s that easy!
Once you accumulate $20.00 in your Ibotta account, you can withdraw it with PayPal or Venmo. You can also exchange your balance for gift cards.
Sometimes the gift cards are offered at a discount. For example, you may only need to give $10 from your Ibotta account for a $15 gift card.
And it’s more than just groceries. Get in the habit of checking your Ibotta app before shopping anywhere, because Ibotta can also get cash back on:
• Convenient stores
• And more
It may take one or two tries before you the hang of it, but it gets easier to use over time. Signing up is easy and the app is user-friendly.
Depending on how much you use the app, you can save anywhere from a couple of dollars a month to $100 a month.
Ibotta is like the modern-day couponing.
3. Ebates (Save Money Shopping)
Some hardcore couponers spend hours scouring the web for good deals. Ebates makes this process a lot easier by putting them in one place and organizing them.
Ebates offers coupons at select stores. You also get cash back from Ebates.
It’s great for online shopping and in-store shopping.
How it works online:
• Create an account, then go to the App (or ebates.com).
• Search for the store you want to shop at.
• Click “Shop Now” and browse the store as you normally would.
• After making a purchase, a percentage appears up in your Ebates account.
Note: it can take up to 7 days after purchase for the cashback to show up in your Ebate account.
For example, let’s say Ebates offers 5% off for shopping at Best Buy, so you purchase a $1000 TV. After buying it, you get $50 back within 7 days.
How it works in-store:
Any time you’re about to check out somewhere, pull up your Ebates app and see if there are any coupons or deals. This will save money on your purchases.
Plus you might find a good deal on an item in-store that you didn’t pick up. Turn your cart around and snag it!
Before leaving home to go shopping, take some time to browse Ebates. You’ll spot some great deals, and that it can help guide you on which stores to shop at.
Essentially, you’re saving money while just doing your routine, every-day shopping.
4. Raise (Save Money with Gift Cards)
Raise is a genius phone app that buys and sells gift cards. When people don’t want their gift cards or want extra money, they sell their gift cards to Raise.
In turn, Raise will sell these gift cards at prices lower than the card’s worth. For example, you might be able to buy a $25 gift card to Applebee’s for $20 dollars.
Raise commonly has gift cards to a variety of locations, such as:
• T.J. Maxx
Their selection of gift cards fluctuates, but at any given time there’s a decent variety and number of gift cards to choose from.
The app is very easy to navigate. Its displays prices clearly, so there isn’t a lot of tapping and investigating. You can check if a place has a gift card on this app within a minute.
Raise offers buyers a guarantee that all gift cards are good for at least 1 year. This means the gift cards won’t be inactive, expired, or have less money on them than presented.
Otherwise, you get your money back.
You can request physical cards (it takes 3-14 days), but I suggest redeeming gift cards online, right from the app. This is much more convenient and quick.
The trick is to always check the app before paying anywhere. If you’re eating a restaurant, look at your Raise app before paying for the meal. There might be a good gift card.
This will knock your bills down a couple of dollars for many purchases.
5. Drop (Save Money by Earning Rewards)
Drop is an app that gives you reward points when you shop at your favorite stores.
After you accumulate enough rewards, you can redeem those rewards for a gift card at those stores.
Here’s how to get started:
• Download the app at Google Play or iTunes. Or, you can go to the Drop website. Click on ‘Get the app.’ Enter your phone number and they’ll text you a link where you can download the app.
• Create a profile, then link a credit or debit card.
• Select your favorite brands.
• Shop at those stores with your linked card.
• Start spending the points you accumulate.
Once you earn 5,000 points, you can redeem them for gift cards. 5,000 points equal out to $5 across the board. You can spend in multiples. For example, 25,000 points can give you a $25 gift card to Amazon.
This app works best for your regular purchases. If you buy coffee from Starbucks a lot or do all of your shopping at Walmart, go for those brands.
It can take up to 24 hours before the app registers your purchase and gives you points.
You don’t need to change your habits. Just continue to live life like you normally do, and make money while doing it.
Then, when the time comes, redeem those points for a killer gift card.
Practice Using these Apps and Start Saving
It might take some time to get used to a phone app, but it’s worth it. Saving extra dollars at a restaurant or at a retailer adds up over time.
That’s more money for bills, paying off debt, and saving for those big goals – like a car, college, or house.
If you don’t understand the app right away, give it some time. You’ll get the hang of it.
If you’re stumped, check out a YouTube tutorial to guide you. For example, here is a tutorial for the app Mint.
Any question can be answered by the internet in a few minutes.
Pull out your phone, head over the app store, download the suggested apps, and get busy saving.