We all know there are millions of apps we can download to our smartphones, from popular puzzle video game Angry Birds to the obscure RunPee, which tells you at which point in a film you can ‘run’ and ‘pee’ without missing the good bits.
But how many can actually help us become more productive and save us money? We scoured the app stores for some of the most useful money-saving apps currently available…
If you want a find a bargain motor, having this app at your fingertips could save you a bundle, especially when perusing car fairs, auctions, and forecourts. Including typical prices for over 32,000 types of car, Parker’s is the bible for petrolheads. You can adjust the mileage and other parameters for even more accurate prices and get a great sense of whether you’re having the wool pulled over your eyes. And, unlike a book, you get free updates so the prices are always current.
If British Gas is basing your monthly direct debit bills on estimates for your energy use then you could be paying far more than you need each month. Why give BG your extra cash when it could be working better for you? This free iPhone app makes it easy to submit your own gas and electricity readings, and keep on top of your energy usage. Yes, you can already do this online but having your mobile handy makes it much more likely you’ll actually get round to doing it. You can also compare your energy usage to others in your area. If you’re guzzling energy at a much higher rate than your neighbours you may want to consider insulation, draft-proofing and switching things off more often.
Platform: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm
You don’t have to be an irresponsible speed demon to find yourself being flashed by a speed camera these days. And those fines and penalty points can mount up alarmingly quickly, denting your wallet and pushing up your motor insurance premiums. Trapster warns you when a speed trap, camera or traffic lights is nearby, helping you keep an eye on your speed, drive more safely and save on fines. You can alert the rest of the Trapster community to new cameras and traps as well.
Platform: BlackBerry (Android and iPhone ‘coming soon’)
Cost: free or £4.92 per month for Pro version
Time is money in this busy world so the more efficient we can be the better. Xobni helps people organise their email blizzard to make contacts, documents and conversations more easily searchable and accessible. It builds up profiles of your contacts, including their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates, and syncs everything between your Microsoft Outlook desktop software and your BlackBerry. No more scrabbling around searching for that document from that contact you can’t remember the name of. Xobni brings you up to speed.
Platform: iPhone, Android
Why waste a small fortune on diet plans, books, supplements and all that gubbins when you can simply manage your calorie intake and exercise routine using this handy and very popular app from MyFitnessPal? Listing over 750,000 different foods and their calories per portion you can easily keep tabs on your consumption and learn to cut out the bad stuff. Simply becoming more conscious of what we eat can help us lose pounds. The latest version now comes with a barcode scanner, too, to help you make wiser choices when out shopping.
Platform: Nokia (Symbian)
The free maps app from Nokia’s OVI store is an amazing resource for Nokia smartphone owners, offering maps from 78 countries and downloadable voice directions that should make most expensive satellite navigation systems redundant. If your phone has GPS built in you can pinpoint your location, share co-ordinates and plot routes. Save your favourite journeys for future use and never get lost again.
There’s nothing worse than struggling round urban one-way systems looking for parking. Tempers get frayed, stress levels rise. Then when you actually find a space you blow a gasket when you notice the cost. So the AA’s parking app, created by Parkopedia, is a real godsend for drivers. It can find you the nearest car park (UK and Ireland) according to your GPS position, tell you how much it costs, whether spaces are available, whether it’s covered or open and give you directions, too. Information on parking meter bays is also being rolled out. A truly indispensable app for the motorist.
Platform: iPhone, BlackBerry, Android
A very simple app that can help you avoid paying those pesky surcharges for cash withdrawals at ATMs not in your bank’s network. It’ll show you where the nearest cash machines are based on your GPS location or point you in the direction of your own bank’s machines.
Platform: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia
Show me the way to go home, please! Location-based information on the next train home wherever you happen to be is a neat extra feature of TheTrainline’s useful train times and ticket ordering app. Planning your journey to avoid peak times and more expensive routes can save you hundreds of pounds, such is the complexity of the current rail system.
New app version of the popular restaurant review and booking website. You get reward points each time you book a table and review your meal. Earning 1,400 points wins you a free meal at a basic restaurant, but you need to earn around 4,000 to get a freebie at a posh nosh place. Useful for finding recommended restaurants in your vicinity and includes a handy tip calculator.
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By Kerry Davies