Helpful Smartphone Apps

Nearly two-thirds of Americans currently own a smartphone, according to a study by Pew Research Center. That number is up from 35% in 2011…an astounding increase! Interestingly enough, I acquired my first cell phone in 2011 and, at the time, thought I was “late to the party.” Smartphone usage is clearly on the rise and the purpose of this post is to call your attention to some apps that may save you money and time, or simply enable you to better stay on top of your financial situation. Here are six apps I think are worth checking out:

GasBuddy
GasBuddy makes it easy to find a nearby gas station and, more importantly, to find the cheapest gas in town. Using a phone’s location service (i.e. GPS), GasBuddy sorts by distance AND price per gallon. Clearly, this provides an immediate financial benefit as you may compare local gas prices and fill up at the station that’s least expensive. In addition, GasBuddy provides alerts when local prices are going up, enabling you to find a station that hasn’t raised prices yet and fill up at a lower price. On occasion, this app has saved me in excess of twenty cents per gallon!

RedLaser
RedLaser enables you to easily compare prices amongst various retailers. How many times have purchased something, only to find a better deal after the fact? With RedLaser, scan the barcode or type in the name of the item you’re looking at and the app immediately provides price comparisons at other stores. RedLaser doesn’t always have pricing information for small businesses (something that as a small business owner I wish could be improved!), but is typically reliable to search the big-box stores and online retailers.

Coupon Sherpa
In many cases, Coupon Sherpa saves you the hassle of clipping physical coupons and taking them to the store. The app contains hundreds of coupons from some of the largest retailers and restaurants around. Best of all, most of the time stores will simply request you provide them with the listed coupon code or they’ll scan a barcode directly from your smartphone. I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have been in line somewhere and have saved some money by checking this app!

Cartwheel
Since my wife and I frequently find ourselves at Target, we use
Target’s REDcard to save 5% on purchases (and get free shipping when shopping online!). A Target specific app we recently learned about, however, is Cartwheel. Cartwheel enables us to scan the barcode of each item we want to purchase and provides coupons, which may only be found using this app, for some of them. Once we’ve located the coupons, we add them to our “cart” on the app and the cashier scans a barcode on our smartphone as we checkout. Even if we only find one or two coupons, that’s money we’re saving as a result of using the app.

Credit Karma
Business Insider recently published an
article explaining what Credit Karma does and how you may best use it. In short, Credit Karma enables you to easily track your credit score and find ways to improve it. Personally, I use the Credit Karma app on my smartphone to regularly monitor my credit score and make sure nothing seems out of the ordinary. In addition, the app provides information on all the factors that affect your score such as age of credit history, payment history, credit utilization, total accounts, and hard inquiries. You may easily access Credit Karma from a computer, but I find it more convenient to pull up the data using my smartphone app.

Your Bank’s App
If you receive checks, regardless of the frequency, do yourself a favor and check to see whether your bank provides an app that enables you to deposit checks electronically. This may save you a trip to the bank and help you to get the funds deposited in your account sooner. My bank places a limit on the size and frequency of electronic deposits, but I use its app for both personal and business deposits.

If you’ve found other apps that are worth sharing, email me at justin@jgrfinancial.com and let me know! I’m always looking for better ways to improve my own personal situation and I love to share helpful tips with others!