As a Financial Coach, I like to try out all different websites, programs, and apps to figure out how to save more money while keeping my family’s quality of living pretty high.
Lots of apps tote amazing results. I wanted to see those results for myself. After trying a few dozen apps, I’ve compiled my list of top 10 apps that saved my household money.
Some of these apps are pretty regional. We live just west of Boston, MA, USA, so some of these apps might not work for you. Others might not fit into your lifestyle. Use what works for you. Personal finances are... well, personal.
Recommendation: Skip it unless you have lots of time or buy directly from brand stores often.
Swagbucks gets a lot of hype from influential figures like Dave Ramsey, who says you would be stupid not to use it.
Well, I tried. I really tried.
After using the Chrome extension for a couple of years (!) and then downloading the app a few weeks ago, I couldn't figure out the hype. It saved me less money than Honey and left me feeling frustrated after being disqualified for survey after survey. You took my information... couldn't you just not show me surveys I'd be disqualified for, Swagbucks?
If you're really into surveys, watching videos, and are okay with trading hours for pennies, then Swagbucks is an okay way to do that. If you'd rather a better app, read on.
Recommendation: Skip it unless you have great restraint and don’t spend money just to get in on a good sale.
I find that not spending money is a better way of saving money than spending it at a discount.
RetailMeNot is all about spending money on brand names at a discount. They compile a list of places to shop and find deals for you. That's all well and good, but the app itself isn't great at searching for what you're trying to buy. It brings the deals to you... but I'd rather Google a deal and use Honey to find discounts. The user workflow doesn't make sense here.
When I shop, I'm usually looking for something specific, not just discounts at brands. Let me find the right thing to buy, then find the discount. RetailMeNot is like going to the clearance section in each store in the mall. If that's your style, then this app will work for you.
Recommendation: Try it out. This could work for you if you pair it with sales or Walmart (in-store, online, or delivery app).
Ibotta can be good if you use it properly. I've been clipping coupons and uploading receipts inconsistently for a few years now.
Now that I have the Walmart app and get delivery, it's cut our grocery budget slightly down. Our Walmart is a 30-minute drive away, so I don't go very often. With delivery, I can get Walmart deals, Ibotta rebates, and save a little more money on our grocery budget without leaving my chair. That's pretty sweet.
I'll be honest here - Ibotta works best if you shop at Walmart, Sam's Club, or any of the other retailers that Ibotta supports. I recently made an Office Depot purchase for work and got a nice rebate from Ibotta's browser app. The browser app syncs with the phone app, which is another added benefit.
Check out Ibotta and see if it works for you.
7. Library App (Overdrive or Libby)
Recommendation: Use it if you like to read (like most millionaires) and like free access to audiobooks, movies, and TV.
Our library app is my secret weapon. Libraries don’t just have print books. They also let you check out ebooks, audiobooks, TV shows, and movies... for free!
How many books, ebooks, and audiobooks do you own that you haven’t gotten through quite yet? If you’re like me, you have a few... dozen. Maybe a few hundred? When you use your library’s app, you might find a waiting list for the ebook or audiobook. They can only lend out so many at a time, so if someone else is reading or listening to it, you’ll have to wait. They also have automatic check-in dates. That gives you a deadline! In my coaching practice, I’ve noticed how powerful deadlines can be to get done what you want to get done. Library check-outs give you a low-stress deadline for getting through the content you’ve been waiting for.
Clearly, I love our library app. I use it more for professional books. The return deadline gives me a target for reading that I might not otherwise prioritize. All in all, your library can save you plenty of money.
Recommendation: Try it out if you live near Boston, MA, or NYC. It could save you money for date nights and family fun nights.
The only reason this app isn't higher is because it causes you to eat out more. Cooking at home is still cheaper than this app, but sometimes, you know, you want someone else to cook for you. That's okay.
If you're looking to eat out, save money, and can pick up food at odd hours, like 3-4 PM or 1:30-2:30 PM, or even 11 PM to 12 AM, then this is the app for you.
We've been getting meals for $4 or $5 per, so that's $12 worth of prepared food for $4 or $15 worth of food for $5. You can buy more than one at a time and pick them all up at once. It's saved me a little sanity during the COVID madness. We once got 4 burritos for $12. I added a few cash dollars of a tip on the top.
Too Good to Go seems to work better if you live in or around Boston, MA, or New York City. We're right outside of Boston, MA, so the app works well if we're willing to drive closer to the city to pick up food.
Does anyone know of an app like this for other locations?
Recommendation: Use it with FreeStuffFinder or even on its own. I use it in conjunction with sales to get the ultimate deal on groceries and household goods.
Coupons.com has an app! I’ve been using it to find extra deals on the sales my local store is already having. If you use this app well, you can get loads of brand name foods for free or even for cashback. We recently got Jetpuffed marshmallows for $0.30 back. We were refunded money for buying marshmallows. Cool, right?
Now, couponing has been around for decades. We’ve all seen those couponing shows. If you pair this app with FreeStuffFinder (see below), you’ll be a pro couponer without the crazy.
Here’s how the Coupons.com app works:
Clip your coupons in the app.
Buy the groceries.
Submit your receipt.
Scan the groceries that fit your coupons.
To be paid back for the coupons, you need to integrate PayPal. That’s not hard if you have a PayPal account.
Warning: Here’s the one tricky part that I got caught in the first time using Coupons.com. You have to remember which coupons you clipped and what food fits in each coupon before you submit the receipt. You cannot go back and amend your return. You can’t go back in the app and check which coupons you clipped while you're submitting the receipt. Instead, I take a picture or screenshot of the coupons page and toggle back and forth between Pictures and Coupons while submitting my receipt.
Recommendation: Use it. This powerful app will save you time, money, and sanity in the kitchen.
Supercook is a super little app! It doubles as a pantry catalog. If you have your pantry nearly memorized, like me, but sometimes have trouble thinking beyond the 5-6 meals you fall back on, Supercook can help you.
Here's how it works:
Select the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry food items you currently have. There's a list, so it's pretty easy to tap each thing you have and go.
Look at recipes you can make now. They're sortable and organizable. You can filter and search through recipes you can literally make right now with all the foodstuff you have at home.
Clearly, I love Supercook. My family doesn't realize how much they appreciate Supercook, but I know in my heart how much they love it... because they now constantly tell me how creative and fun our meals are becoming.
Shhh! It's our little secret. ;)
Recommendation: Use it. Sort to the "Free" tab to find the free stuff and the potential moneymakers. Follow all of the steps to make sure it's really free.
Now here's a gem of an app. FreeStuffFinder literally combines coupons, regional deals, and any other discounts or rebates it can find, so you don't have to.
Have you ever seen those Crazy Coupon Lady shows? FreeStuffFinder is like having your own personal CrazyCouponLady right in your pocket.
Here's how it works:
Download the FreeStuffFinder app.
Navigate to the "Free" tab up at the top.
Follow all of the steps on each mini-article. Many of these steps include rebates or using other apps to get cashback/rebates. You need to follow through or it won't work.
Warning: Most of the "free" stuff involves rebates and a multi-step process. This is how they get lazy shoppers to spend more money. Rebates and cashback processes are proven to be moneymakers for the retailers because people don't follow through. You have to complete all of the steps in order to make sure the "free" stuff is actually free.
Recommendation: Use it now. Like, right now.
If you're in coaching, you know I love Mint.com. It's a free, automatic way to track expenses. Instead of writing everything down or manually tracking each purchase and paycheck, Mint does it for you. It even categorizes for you and sends you alerts when you're getting close to or are over each budget category!
But how does this save me money, you ask? Tracking is the #1 barrier to successfully staying within your budget. This takes almost all of the work out. Yes, you still need to set up your budget, but this takes out hours of work every month.
If you're staying within your budget, you're saving money. You've given every dollar a place to go and you're following through on your plan. A budget is just a plan for your money. You get to decide where to spend your money. Tracking your budget helps you follow your plan.
We've been using Mint.com for the last 6 years. It's helped my husband and me stay on the same financial page, track our budget, and accomplish our money goals. Mint.com also helps us avoid financial fraud, as I think it's fun to sort through and categorize expenses every week or so. You can also set up personalized alerts to help you discover fraud.
Recommendation: Use the browser app, not the phone app.
Honey finds discount codes, tracks prices, and ultimately finds you the best deal. I use Honey when shopping online at almost every retailer. They keep expanding to cover more online stores.
Honey is extremely helpful when shopping during sale times. You know the drill - sometimes online retailers will hike up a price, then offer it at a "discount" during big sale days like Black Friday or Memorial Day weekend. That's crap. Get transparent pricing information using Honey. It'll show you a time-series graph on that particular product's pricing, so you know if you're truly getting the best deal or if that retailer is pulling the same sales stunt we constantly see.
Honey also gathers and automatically applies discount codes to your shopping cart. All you have to do is activate it. Don't worry, Honey will remind you to try.
Honestly, Honey's saved us at least hundreds of dollars this year, maybe thousands. This is one browser app that we'll keep installed.
Those 10 apps are the 10 I've kept installed on my phone and browser. You can see the recommendations above and figure out if any of these will work for you. Sometimes they fit into your lifestyle and sometimes they don't. Give each of these a whirl and see if you can save more money.