How much is your monthly cell phone bill? If you’re like me, it’s around $100. For many of us it’s the biggest monthly expense after rent. On top of that, new phones can be expensive. When T-Mobile offered up the new Samsung Galaxy S3, I knew I had to have it. There’s another $280 spent. Where’s the frugality in that?
Thankfully, there are ways we can turn our smartphones around and make them into money saving machines. Here are a few ideas:
If you don’t use coupons because clipping coupons is a hassle, you don’t have an excuse any more. There are tons of coupon apps, including the Valpak for iPhone app. They work almost the exact same way as traditional coupons, except there aren’t stacks of paper to remember every time you go to the store. All the information is stored right on your smartphone.
The best part: there are tons of these types of apps, and they’re almost all free. All you do is download them and start compiling the coupons you want to use. Nearly every major retailer and grocery store has a way to redeem them, whether it’s by scanning a barcode or entering in a code number.
If you’re buying items at a retail store and you’re not price comparing on your smartphone, you’re spending too much money. Sorry to say for big box retailers, but for many of us they’re merely showrooms these days. The frugal and savvy among us go in armed with smartphones and try to find the best deal possible. It’s only when we need an item right now that we actually make a purchase.
There are a number of ways to do this. You can find a price comparison app — there are too many to list — or you can simply resort to a Google search. Type in the product name, and you’ll see shopping results from around the web. Factor in tax and shipping, and you can see if it’s a better deal to order online.
How can you start saving money if you don’t know how much you spend? With credit cards and mobile payments these days, we have a harder time keeping track of our spending than our parents did. A barrier essentially exists between us and our money. It’s hard to understand what you spend if you’re just handing someone a piece of plastic.
Since your smartphone goes with you everywhere, you can use it to record your spending habits. Every time you spend even a dollar, make a record of it on your smartphone, either in a notepad app or a spending tracking app. There should be some immediate effects: you’ll be more aware that you’ve spent money. But the real punch comes when you check your log after a month. You might feel ashamed at how much money you spend — and waste!
The first thing I did when I got that shiny new Galaxy S 3 was search Google Play for budgeting apps. There are tons of them, and they all provide different functions. Some, like the Mint.com app, can automatically track your finances and give you up to the minute reports. Others require you to set spending limits and stick to them. Either way, you can stay on top of your finances and stick to your budget much easier if the app is always with you. That’s the advantage of a smartphone.
With devices costing $200 to $300 and with service at around $100 per month, smartphones can be big holes in anyone’s expense report. Thankfully, there are surefire ways to turn the tables and use that smartphone to save money and live a more frugal life. If you can save even a little from coupon apps and price comparisons, and then reduce your spending with budget apps, you’ve made huge strides towards a freer financial life.