Cell phones have earned a reputation as enablers of mindless, wallet-draining spending. In addition to racking up expensive overage fees and international charges, popular apps offering food delivery, one-click shopping and in-app purchases can be a danger to your wallet. Yet, with a few simple tricks and downloads, your phone can actually be a powerful money-saving tool. Below are four ways consumers can use their cellphones to save money.
1. Easily Budget & Monitor Spending
The first step to successful money management is establishing and sticking to a budget by monitoring your spending across all accounts weekly, if not daily. Until recently, this was much easier said than done. Thanks to personal finance apps like Mint, setting budgets and monitoring spending is nearly seamless, as users can closely keep an eye on all their account activity, set budgets, and check credit scores in one place. Most of these popular apps can also act as a personalized financial coach, sending users account alerts, weekly spending summaries and personalized advice to keep spending in check.
2. Pay Bills Automatically & On the Go
The average American household juggles 12 bills a month. Late fees and overdraft fees are all too common and can sometimes feel unavoidable, but these small charges add up fast. In addition to scheduling reminders and alerts, several financial apps make bill pay easy by allowing users to schedule and make bill payments directly from their mobile device, as well as view all account information in one place. Never be hit with a late fee again!
3. Benefit from Member Specials and Discounts
In the past few years, social networks have grown into billion dollar businesses thanks, in large part, to their ability to effectively connect businesses with their customers through targeted advertising. By following their favorite brands on social networks and signing up for email newsletters, smart shoppers are benefitting from exclusive deals, discounts and early sale alerts.
Pledging your allegiance to preferred brands can be an excellent money saver, just make sure that you’re buying only what you need and taking advantage of the deals, rather than letting the deals take advantage of you. If you find yourself lured into unnecessary impulse purchases by deals, it may be best to unsubscribe from regular communications and just check social feeds as specific needs arise.
4. Dare to Compare
Technology has changed the ways we comparison shop. Love a product in store but don’t love the price? Pull out your phone and with a few Google searches, you can likely find the same or similar produce online, which you can then either order directly or use to negotiate a better deal on the object in store. This type of comparison shopping, called showrooming, is gaining popularity among consumers and many large national brands like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy guarantee to meet competitors’ prices. In addition, comparing costs and reviews online can help you choose the best deal and product before leaving the house.
While your mobile device can be an easy gateway to thoughtless spending, it can also be a tool to better money habits. And as for those other tempting apps that make spending money quick and easy – delete them from your phone or don’t store your credit card information. The extra steps of pulling out your credit card and entering your information will make you think twice.
Ready to turn your phone into you budget’s best friend? Download the Mint app for Android or iPhone, and tell us on Twitter how you like to save! Follow us at @mint.