One of the ways that I stay on budget is to utilize my smartphone to help me save money and stick to my money goals. I do this by utilizing apps that keep me in check, save me money, help me get money back on purchases and keep track of essentials to buy, rather than having a shopping spree. All the following apps can be found both on app stores for iPhones (iOS) and Androids, like Samsung and others.
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My favorite app is one that isn't so fun, but is actually very essential for me to keep on budget. Although there are many templates online to create your own spreadsheet to do a budget, I have not found one that suits me so I create my own. However, seeing as there are so many templates out there free to use, you may find one that works for you. (You may also like the free budgeting worksheets available here at Better Budgeting or the 5-week budgeting class that is offered each quarter.)
If you create your budget spreadsheet on Google Sheets, you can download the Google Sheets app, and put it on your phone for frequent viewing . The way I utilize this is I frequently will look at my budget as I make purchases to see if I can afford something. I have allocated certain dollar amounts to expenditures like groceries and household essentials, and even a “Fun Fund”. Since I keep up with my expenses regularly on the Google Sheets, I know how much I have left to spend in that category. This way I don't go over my budget limit.
For those who don't want to create their own budget on Google Sheets, Mint by Intuit is a great way for a computer system to do the work for you. You can link to your accounts like checking, savings, credit cards, auto insurance, mortgage etc. It will automatically budget for you based on the amounts you have allocated to each category like eating out, entertainment, utilities and others. You can even create goals and Mint will tell you how far you've made progress on these goals. The app on your phone can send you push notifications to tell you if you've gone over the limit in any one category as well as congratulate you for saving towards your goals like paying down debt or saving for a purchase.
Most may not think Google Keep is a way to help someone save money or stay on budget, but for me it really is. This is one app that I've told many people about and when they see how easy it is to use are amazed and instantly download it to their phone. Like the other apps I suggested, this is free. You can think of Google Keep as basically an app that lets you create lists, but it's not just any list. You can create several lists and even have check mark boxes that you can check off as needed, which puts the items towards the bottom of the list that you can uncheck later if needed. This has been especially useful for grocery shopping. When I'm grocery shopping, I stick to only the household essentials and no splurges. As I walk through the store, I check off the boxes of items I put in my basket. Since it does not delete what has been checked off, the next time I go grocery shopping, I prepare my list ahead of time by unchecking the boxes of items I will be need that trip. I can honestly say this saved me both time and money as my grocery shopping has become more efficient. You can even add a little note to yourself to use coupons on certain items.
I love the RetailMeNot app so much because it gathers all coupon codes in one place. If you are online shopping, make sure you look on retailmenot.com before checking out. However, if you are shopping in a brick and mortar store, you can bring out your RetailMeNot app and search by store for coupon codes. I usually use this app when shopping at craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and JoAnn's. There are almost always coupons for hobby stores for 40% off one item. Tip: hobby stores often let you use this coupon more than once for your purchases on the same day.
Ibotta is an app that gives you money back on your groceries. Everyday purchases like milk, cheese, oranges, laundry detergent and even items like wine, clothing, and makeup can be found on the Ibotta app. for example, you can buy a gallon of milk, upload your receipt to the Ibotta app, and get $0.50 deposited back into your Ibotta account. You can then use the money for rewards like PayPal or a Walmart gift card and other gift cards. Ibotta is only one of many money back apps that will give you money for buying groceries on their list. Others include Checkout 51, the Walmart rebate catcher and others.
As you know, there are literally thousands of apps available for smart phones these days. You can find which one works best for you. These are just the ones that I have found through experience that have helped me the most with budgeting. Even if all these different apps don't work for you, you might want to try the Google keep as I found this to be the most helpful for people in my life. What smartphone apps help keep you on budget and or save you money?
Get these apps for iOS:
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