Whether you’re a soon-to-be college freshman preparing to leave the nest for the first time or a seasoned grad student gearing up for your final year, it’s likely you’ll be pinching pennies at some point during your academic career, if not all throughout. Personal finance management is an essential skill you may not have picked up during high school, but you don’t need to be a business major or an economics whiz to master it. If you have a smartphone, you’ve got the power. There are hundreds of apps on the market designed to help users save money. Ebates has compiled some of the best, listed below. Use these in conjunction with the Cash Back and deals available through Ebates at hundreds of stores like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond to get the most bang for your buck.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to stash away a few bucks whenever possible for a rainy day fund, or even just an extra latte here and there. Loot is a free app designed specifically for students which helps you to calculate what your disposable income is. Loot is a little different than most other budgeting apps in that it is connected to a prepaid Visa card onto which you load money. This makes it easy to monitor where you spend your cash daily without the need to manually plug in each expense, as you do with many similar programs. By helping you to develop responsible money management habits, the app aims to subsequently help you to budget for disposable income.
The stereotype of a starving college student can sometimes feel all too real. While clipping coupons can work to save you a few bucks, it can also be fairly time-consuming. MySupermarket helps ensure that you always get the best deal on each item on your shopping list. All you have to do is create your shopping list in the app, and it will tell you where you can find each item at the lowest price, or if a particular store is offering a special on the item. You can also use your phone to scan the barcode of an item while at the store, and the app will alert you if you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Don’t have a car and don’t relish the idea of schlepping a half-dozen shopping bags from the store back to the dorm? This app also works for online grocery orders.
Everyone needs a little retail therapy now and again. RetailMeNot helps you to get your fix while staying within your budget. The free app gives you access to thousands of different coupons and specials for a variety of stores, including Target, Starbucks, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more. If you come across a coupon you’d like to use but don’t need it right away, the app allows you to save it for later. It also alerts you when these saved coupons are about to expire. If you’re looking for a certain item, though you’re not set on a specific store, the app will also search for deals within your area. To take advantage of the savings, all you have to do is show your phone at checkout, or if you’re shopping online, just input the code.
Similar to Loot, Mint is an easy-to-use, free budgeting program that helps you to set and meet savings goals. You can visit the Mint.com site, or download it as an app on your phone. Although Mint doesn’t use a prepaid Visa, it does allow you to securely link your debit and/or credit cards so you can just as easily keep track of your spending. With both Mint and Loot, this aspect is particularly important as it can help you to easily pinpoint areas you could cut back on in favor of saving for other things. Once you’ve established a budget, Mint will also send you email reminders should you go over the specified amount.
Similar to RetailMeNot, Honey is a valuable savings app that collects thousands of coupons and codes at hundreds of sites to make sure you get the best deal on every order. You can download Honey to your phone or to your computer as an Internet extension. The great thing about Honey is it will automatically search for and try out all of the available codes when you begin the checkout process at an online store, so unlike with RetailMeNot and many other sites, you don’t have to try out each one manually. If there’s one thing college students have less of than money, it’s time, so this aspect of the app is especially nice. Honey also allows you to rack up points to earn cash back, and offers incentives if you persuade your friends to start using Honey as well.
College is the perfect place to try new things. Groupon affords you the opportunity to try new things off-campus as well as on, without paying the usual cost. This app has been a favorite for a while now, and it’s easy to see why. With this app, you can take advantage of daily deals of 50 to 90 percent off a variety of activities, goods, and services in over 500 cities. Many businesses post deals through Groupon to establish new customers, so it’s a great way to find hidden gems and up-and-coming establishments you may not normally try or be able to afford.
7. ATM Hunter
We’ve all been there. You’re at the bar enjoying some drinks with friends, go to pay the tab with your debit card, and realize they only accept cash or their card machine is down. Finding an ATM in itself can be difficult in certain areas, particularly if it’s late at night. Add to that the $2 to $4 fees many ATMs charge per transaction, and the fact that you stuck to more budget-friendly beers instead of cocktails seems to have been for naught. ATM Hunter is a free app that helps you find free cash machines, so you don’t have to stress if you’re caught in a jam in an unfamiliar area. You can also filter the search so the app will only show you machines from your bank, adding even more convenience.
From the latest tech to the hottest fashions and everything in between, the editors at The Smart Shopper are in the know and ready share their expertise. Check out our posts on shopping secrets and product trends for those who live for a little retail therapy.