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2.09.2010

Thrifty Tip Tuesday: use your iphone to save you money

I was going to post something much more practical. Because getting an iphone isn't exactly a frugal thing to do. But I'm siting here thinking of all the ideas I have listed for my thrifty tips and all I can think about is how much I love my iphone. If you shop around the upfront cost is really reasonable (Walmart currently carries new 8G 3g's for about $80 and Best Buy often has the same model refurbished for around $60, but if you are looking for one be sure to budget for the added fees and taxes, which here in CA comes out to about $50)... it's the extra $30 a month for the data plan that can hurt a budget if you're not ready for it. So don't read my post and feel like you need to run out and upgrade to an iphone. Not buying something automatically saves you money.

However, I have been planning for this iphone for about a month and a half. We are not struggling financially (largely because of my frugality over the past years- it really pays off!), are paying extra on what little debt we have, and there was room in our budget to cover the data plan.

And I'm making the thing earn it's keep:) While I do have some fun apps (all free), 90% of the aps I have downloaded serve a purpose for me. I have scoured the free apps in the categories I was interested in and tried several. A few that I really felt were worthwhile I even paid for (I think I spent a total of $3). My research was far from comprehensive, but here's what I came up with and why I liked it:

Grocery Apps:

Yadahome- this is more than just a grocery list app. It's a family organizer. There were a lot of things I liked about it- you can access your information either online or via the app on your device, and multiple users can access it. So, for example, you, your husband, and your teenager could each list events on the calendar to keep each other in sync. You can send your groccery list to your email. You can make to do lists. It does a lot of things, so if you're looking for all this and a very basic grocery list, this one may be for you. It's free so check it out (there are two listed- you want the family organizer).

What I didn't like- not able to input the price of each item, items not organized by category, items can't be crossed off the list (that I could tell).

Our Groceries- This is a really decent basic list. It allows you to keep separate lists by store as well as keeping recipes (not the actual recipes, but stores the ingredients you need so you just have to pull it up at the store). It's easy to navigate and simple. But again, it doesn't track your spending.

GrocerEaze- Probably the best free app I tried. Can enter price for each item as well as your budget, shows running total at the top, and organizes by category. Save new items (with most basic items already populated) for easy listing later. One thing I love about this app is that it has a "pantry" to list what you currently have at home. The app I ended up choosing doesn't have this and I kind of wish it did... although I have a feeling I'd have a hard time keeping up with it. Also (not a plus for me) you can have a picture of each item saved with the name.

Grocery Gadget Lite- This app has a lot of the same capabilities as GrocerEaze plus the ability to indicate when you have a coupon for the item. My main problem with this app and with Grocereaze was the way they looked during entry. Also, the Lite version only keeps one list with a limit of 20 items, and I hear there is a problem if you want to delete a single item from the list.

(paid ones I briefly considered and why I dismissed them)
GroceryIQ- don't like the way it displays the total, and it's owned by coupons.com. Not sure why, but that bugs me.

Shopper and shopper lite- reviews made it sound a little untrustworthy and there are ads in the paid version. Barcode scanning may be useful, but I don't use a lot of products with barcodes (and am kind of hoping my app will add that capability eventually).

...and the app I finally chose:

Groceries Grocery List- This is a paid app (.99) and does most of what I want- items are organized either by store or by store and category, price can be listed for each item, you can indicate if you have a coupon for an item, it adds tax, items cross off as you check them (but don't delete) and the checked items group together. What I would add- barcode scanning, ability to enter list online or sync with a program on my computer, and a pantry. Then it would be the perfect app:)

Other money saving apps I Love:

Gas Cubby (free)- allows you to track vehicle costs and fuel economy. You enter the info at each fill up (odometer reading, number of gallons, and amount paid for gas) and each time you do maintenance. My main reason for getting it was to track oil changes, but the miles per gallon tracking is pretty nice.

Daily Tracker Lite (free)- This is actually a calendar app, but I don't use it as a calendar (so to speak). I like ical for my general scheduling, but I didn't want to squeeze my meal plan on there with all my other... stuff. I like Daily Tracker because it's got a really simple look and you can view several appointments (meals) at once. It also has to do lists and notes.

Debt Tracker Pro (2.99)- Since we only have two debts (school and car) this was probably not MY best investment. However, since we've been trying to loosely follow the Dave Ramsey plan to pay off what we have left sooner (which requires us to be more frugal than we would like to be) I felt it would help to have a visual showing our progress. For anyone with significant debt to keep thrack of and the desire to pay it down, this is a GREAT app. Just out of curiousity I just changed our payments to their minimum amounts and it would take us 7 years longer to pay everything off. That alone is a great motivator. Plus there is a status bar for those of us who are visual.

Shop Savvy (free)- Shop Savvy allows you to scan a barcode with your iphone's camera and search to find the lowest price. Since I haven't had to make any significant purchases lately (I should have tried it at the grocery store this morning, but I hear it's not significantly helpful at the grocery store which makes sense since grocery prices usually aren't listed online) I haven't had the chance to use this app, but it was listed in a magazine as a top app.

Cellfire (free)- it seems like everyone knows about cellfire, but in case you don't it automatically puts coupons onto your store loyalty card via your cellphone.

I also live by my ical (which comes with the phone). Not only do I use it to schedule my appointments and obligations, I use it for my to do lists and for my control journal (ala flylady). And it syncs with the ical on my laptop, which is nice.

Remember, don't use this as an excuse to run out and buy an iphone (this is a behavior you're trying to control, this running out every time you want something!). If, a month from now, you are still thinking endlessly about NEEDING an iphone only then should you start thinking about if and how you may be able to afford one. This isn't something you want to stretch your budget to fit. But if you already have one you can really make it work for you.

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