5 Mobile Apps for Frugal Living

Thanks to Tara Wagner, The Frugal Diva learned quite a bit about money saving apps.

Tara Wagner is a staff writer for TechBreach. She has worked from home for over a decade, and loves sharing news and advice with fellow telecommuting moms and dads. She’s fascinated by new tech and new ideas; and when she finds time to unplug, she enjoys long hikes in the mountains near her home. She lives in Denver.

Data plans can be expensive, but if you’re trying to cut costs and you’re locked into a contract, you can make the best of it by putting your smartphone to work saving you money. With the right apps and a little effort, your data plan can almost pay for itself! Here are a few of the best money-saving apps on the market, for both Apple and Android devices.

1. Mint

If you’re trying to save money, just getting a handle on your finances is half the battle. Mint is easily the most attractive, user-friendly budget app on the market at the moment, and it’s free. You can get an at-a-glance view of all your finances, including auto and home loans, checking and savings, and investments from your mobile phone. It’s read-only and password-protected—you can view your financials, but you can’t transfer money or change your bank settings. The app also allows you to create budgets with sub-categories, so you can police your spending in each aspect of your life. To monetize the app, Mint offers “advice” in the form of ads for financial services—but other than that, it’s a must-have. (Cost: free)

2. Skype

Most of the average phone’s minutes are used on calls with the same half-dozen people every month. If you can get your closest friends using Skype Mobile, you can potentially eliminate the vast majority of your phone’s voice usage, save money on overages, and potentially even trim down to a plan with fewer monthly minutes. Especially if you make a lot of calls outside your network, downloading Skype is a no-brainer. (Cost: free)

3. Fuel School

You might think of your car’s gas mileage as a static figure, but it actually depends a great deal on how you drive. Rapid acceleration, constant braking, and other variables like tire pressure and the number of passengers can make any car a gas-guzzler. Fuel School helps you get the most out of your gas by warning you when your driving habits are costing you money, and providing helpful advice to optimize your mileage. It also shows charts that track your car’s efficiency over time, so you can recognize potential problems before they get expensive. (Cost: $0.99)

4. ShopSavvy

This is a great app for comparison shoppers. Using your smartphone’s camera, you can scan barcodes and QR codes for price and review information on hundreds of thousands of items. If you’re shopping for electronics, for instance, and you find a better deal available online, most participating stores will accept online payments, directly from the app. ShopSavvy displays new coupons and deals every day at shops you frequent, and you can save items to comparison shop from home. (Cost: free)

5. Shopkick

Shopkick is a great coupon app for those who like to window shop. For reporting in when you visit a particular store, Shopkick will award you “kicks” that add up to discounts and incentives for that store—whether you buy anything or not. It’s a good app to have running in the background while you run the errands you were going to do anyway—you’ll be surprised at how many freebies you can rack up without going out of your way. Shopkick also allows you to scan items in-store—the app will provide reviews and price information on the item, and you’ll rack up additional reward points. (Cost: free)