I have toyed with the idea of writing a post about the best money-saving phone apps ever since I got an iPhone. But having an iPhone isn’t particularly thrifty, is it?
Mind you, it’s a work phone and the way things are now, I’m not sure I’d be able to do my day job without it. I’ve had it for two-and-a-half years and it still works beautifully, which is more than can be said for many of its free-phone-upgrade predecessors (more about those in another post to come this week). I also take many of the pictures for this blog with it. So I’m not going to quibble about the investment – I’ve done rather well out of it, really.
I used to have a gazillion free money-saving apps on that phone. Then a few months ago, something went wrong during an upgrade and they were all wiped. Could I be bothered to reinstall them all? Ha! As if. I realised that even though they all sounded marvellous at the time, I didn’t actually make much use of them. Many of them are perfectly good and are geared towards saving you money when you spend – but I don’t spend very much. So I reinstalled just three money-saving apps, which are the ones I actually use: the first saves me money when I spend, the second gives me access to thousands of free books, and the third actually makes me money.
1. VoucherCodes.co.uk. It isn’t the only voucher codes site to have an app, but I’ve found this one to be the easiest to use, with a good range of vouchers and fast load times.
The last time I used it was in Pizza Express, when I took my husband out to lunch as a treat. I told the waiter I had a voucher code on my phone and then, when the bill was brought, he wrote the code down and deducted 20% from the bill. It couldn’t have been more straightforward, and the waiter didn’t bat an eyelid. I love it that voucher codes are so utterly mainstream now.
2. Kindle Reader for iPhone. Did you know that you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read Kindle books? You can install a free Kindle reader on your iPhone (or your PC, Mac, Android, BlackBerry or iPad, for that matter) from Amazon. You can find further information and download links here.
Thousands of books are available to read on the Kindle for free, either because they are out of copyright or because they are on limited-time promotions, so a Kindle reader effectively places a free library at your disposal. I use the iBooks app as well, but frankly, there are a lot more titles available for Kindle. My well-stocked and gorgeously free digital library includes titles by Jane Austen, the Brontes and Wilkie Collins. I also picked up An Idiot Abroad and The Life of Pi for 20p each. When I’m stuck on a bus, or a friend is late to meet me, I whip my phone out and have a good read.
3. Quidco. The cashback site has a phone app that pays you money when you visit high street shops. Purchases are not necessary: instead you get paid simply for walking through the door, whipping out your phone and pressing the apps “check in” button. You can also call up a street map, which pinpoints all the participating stores close to you. The sums involved aren’t big – we’re talking 5p to 30p per shop – but it all adds up. If like me, you can rattle through a town centre, it adds up quickly…
These are the apps that I use most, but there are plenty more of them out there. Miss Thrifty partner Castle Cover has rounded up the best of them in a handy graphic. You can view the interactive version here, and it’s worth a look. It’s billed as a list of money-saving apps for the over-50s, but I think this list is good to go for the rest of us too.
After ploughing through this list I’ve just installed the Cardstar app, which stores all your loyalty cards in one place for ease of access. I shall report back.
In the meantime, if you have a smartphone, what are your favourite money-saving apps? What else have I missed? I am sure there are more than a few…