Mobile Apps That Help You Save Money

June 22, 2011

You can use your smartphone to help you shop smarter and save money with a range of mobile apps.

With several apps--such as RedLaser, Android Barcode Scanner, and SnapTell, you can use your phone to scan bar codes of products at stores to check prices and comparison shop to find the best deal, or even find reviews on products to determine if that’s the smartest purchase.

Here are some other recently debuted mobile apps that are helping consumers save:

  • Add to your piggy bank: PNC Bank’s mobile app for its customers includes "Punch the Pig" features, so when you have some extra money, you tap the pig icon on your phone and it’ll transfer money from their checking account to their savings. "Everyone wants to save more money," Todd Barnhart, director of retail deposits for PNC, told USA Today. "This offers a visible reminder."
  • Determine the best time to buy: E-commerce sites are constantly changing prices over a week timespan. A new app, Shopobot, helps shoppers track prices and decide when it’s the best time to buy such items as electronics. It can send you alerts when a price declines to a certain price. The app constantly crawls the Web sites of 12 retailers, such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Newegg.com, to offer the latest prices."'It seems like if you buy it today, it will be the same as tomorrow,'' says Dave Matthews, a Shopobot co-founder. ''But even at Amazon a digital camera might move $50 or $100 throughout a week, a level that we were pretty shocked at.''
  • How will this impact retirement: Putnam Investments recently launched an iPhone app for its 401(k) plan participants that shows how their purchases can even influence their retirement income years to come. By scanning bar codes of products with the iPhone, the app then combines price checks with the participants’ retirement account information and calculates how their future retirement monthly income can be changed by shopping decisions.

Source: “High-Tech Apps Try to Turn Spenders into Savers,” USA Today (June 20, 2011) and “New Site Tracks Best Time to Buy,” The New York Times (June 20, 2011)

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