Staying on budget, cutting expenses, and saving for the future can be a challenge, but your mobile phone can make it easier to achieve these goals.
Couponing, budgeting apps, and even investment apps can offer instant savings, insights into your spending habits, bill reminders, and more right on your phone. Some even allow you to earn money back simply by buying groceries or filling the gas tank.
But which apps are right for you? Here are our top 10 picks for mobile apps that can help you save, or even earn, quite a bit of money.
10 Mobile Apps to Help You Save Money
How it works: Select the offers you want on Ibotta, then go shopping. After making purchases, scan your receipt to use any offers you may have completed. You will receive a credit for the refund you earned, and you can cash out once you reach $20.
Make it work for you: link your loyalty cards to the app and skip scanning the receipt. You can also make purchases through the app itself to earn even more money through online retailers, such as eBay and Amazon.
Ebates is currently changing its name to Rakuten, but still offers coupons and cashback offers to make your regular purchases with more than 2,500 retailers.
How it works: Select the store where you want to shop to activate the cashback offer via the app, which then takes you to the website of the selected retailer. Ebates receives information about your purchase and issues you a credit. Once a quarter, you receive a check or PayPal deposit with all the money you've earned.
Make it work for you: Find out where you can combine offers for maximum savings, such as using a coupon or free shipping offer in addition to the refund you earn by shopping. Also look for in-store deals, which earn you a refund when you link a credit card and use it at a participating retailer.
RetailMeNot is a savings app that provides in-store coupons, online promo codes, discounts, and cashback offers from over 5,000 retail partners and 70,000 brands worldwide.
How it works: Search for deals by store, brand, category, or location through the app. Select one that looks good and presents the barcode or discount code to redeem the offer.
Make it work for you: RetailMeNot has special offers focused on different holidays, making it a good app to check out while shopping throughout the year. It also offers a refund on gift card purchases and a prescription savings program that brings coupons directly to your phone.
Groupon offers limited-time discounts and deals on products, tickets, gift cards, meals, travel and experiences available both locally and online.
How it works: Search and find an offer that interests you. Pay through the Groupon app, then get a voucher that can be redeemed at the point of purchase or place an order to be shipped directly to you.
Make it work for you: Groupon is linked to many other savings programs, including Ebates. Combine offers when you can for maximum savings. Also check out Groupon's deals of the day and extra codes of 20% off, which change regularly.
The GasBuddy app takes the guesswork out of getting the best deal for filling your gas tank. Use it to find the cheapest gas in your area.
How it works: Choose the quality of the gas and look for the best prices. Enter a city or zip code, or take a look at a map. You can also enable location services and view a list of prices in your immediate location.
Make it work for you: The free Pay with GasBuddy program gives you a discount of five cents per gallon when you pay at the pump using their card, which is linked to your bank account. Upgrading to Plus or Premium payment programs can help you save up to 20 cents per gallon and get free roadside assistance, but both require a monthly membership fee.
Acorns is a micro-investment app that lets you round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and invest the rest in a retirement account. The app offers differentiated pricing at $1, $2, or $3 per month.
How it works: Link a bank account, debit card, or credit card to your Acorns account. Use the card or linked account to make a purchase. Acorns rounds the purchase price to the nearest dollar and invests the extra rest for you, based on the preferences you set.
Make it work for you: In addition to making these small regular investments, you can also set a recurring amount of money to move from your bank to your Acorns account to help you invest faster. You can even purchase cashback offers from brands like Airbnb, Lyft, and Barnes & Noble to earn additional investment dollars.
Mint is a budget and expense tracker from Intuit, designed to help you manage where your money is going and help you make smart financial decisions.
How it works: Add your invoices, bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts to the app. Mint brings all this information together in one place so you can easily see upcoming invoices, receive reminders when invoices are due, classify your expenses, set budgets, track your purchases, and alert you to suspicious transactions.
Make it work for you: Set a budget, which can include saving for a specific purpose. Then use Mint's tools to make smart spending decisions throughout the month and move forward toward those goals. Also take advantage of invoice management tools, which can help you avoid being charged extra fees for late payments.
Digit helps you set and achieve savings goals by analyzing your expenses and automatically setting money aside for you. The app is free for the first 30 days and then has a monthly subscription fee of $2.99.
How it works: Link Digit to your bank account, then set your savings goals. The app uses an algorithm to track your spending, check your account balance and upcoming bills, then determines an appropriate amount to withdraw from your checking account and deposit into your savings funds.
Make it work for you: Digit offers referral bonuses of up to $5, plus an annual 1% cashback reward based on the average amount of money you have in your app account. It also sends daily text messages about your bank account activity.
GoodRx allows you to compare prices at over 60,000 pharmacies and find savings opportunities for your prescriptions.
How it works: Search for each of your medications and get a list of prices and discounts at pharmacies in your area. You can have coupons sent directly to your phone or email address for printing. Redeem coupons when you take medications.
Make it work for you: Even if you have prescription coverage through your insurance, GoodRx may give you lower prices than your copays. You can even use the app to save on your pet's medications.
Joy is a financial coaching app that helps you understand the psychology of your spending habits and use that knowledge to save money. It is currently only available for iOS devices, but the Android app is in production.
How it works: Start by answering questions that help the software get an idea of your personality and financial situation. Then meet your virtual money coach, with whom you can have a conversation about your expenses and rate your transactions as "happy" or "sad" expenses.
Make it work for you: joy helps you understand the reasons for your daily shopping, which can lead to smarter choices. It also offers a free savings account that withdraws a specific amount from your checking account and provides advice on how much money you can safely save on a daily basis.
There's a lot you can do with these mobile apps to work toward your financial goals, whether it's building a safety net, reducing expenses, or even buying a home. Simple steps can lead to great long-term savings, and apps like these make it easy.