4 Necessary Expenses Learned from Japan’s Earthquake

March 18th, 2011

In the financial world, analysts are abuzz with forecasts about how Japan’s devastating earthquake will affect the Emergency Preparationmarkets, both tomorrow and in the long-term.  But when it comes to bloggers who write about family finances, I’ve found none who have broached the issue.  Isn’t there something that we can learn from the earthquake in Japan that we can translate into our own lives?  I’d like to suggest that there is – and that it’s worth mulling over these lessons from the Japanese earthquake so that we can better prepare our own home and finances for the event of an unforeseen emergency.

Reconsider earthquake insurance (or at least keep your house up to code).   Most people think that unless they live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, they don’t need coverage.  However, this may not be entirely accurate.  The whole point of having insurance is that it offers a financial net ‘just in case’ something disastrous happens.  In other words, even if you don’t expect to have an earthquake, you may want to cover yourself anyway.  Chances are, if you live in a low-risk area, you can find earthquake insurance for around $1000/year (possibly less).  If you really don’t want to spend this money, make sure to check that your home meets all current building codes, so that in the event of a catastrophe, your damage will be limited.

Stock up on food and water.  There are a million excuses as to why most of us aren’t prepared for an emergency.  There’s no room in the pantry, buying water is a waste of money, or we live in a low-risk zone, to name a few.  But I’d like to suggest that spending a few dollars to make sure that your family will be better off in the case of an emergency is money well-spent.  If you don’t use the supplies within 6 months, make an effort to use them and to replace with fresh supplies, so that you’ll always have what you need when it.

Invest in an emergency-preparedness kit.  If you enjoy saving money, chances are that you’re hoarding it for a ‘rainy day’.  But if there’s one thing that we can learn from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, it’s that once it starts raining, it’s too late to purchase what you’ll need.  So, take some of your hard-earned funds, and invest them in an emergency-preparedness kit.  Not sure what should be in it?  You can find dozens of lists online, and you should choose the one that makes you feel the most comfortable.  Some critical elements – whistles, garbage bags, first aid supplies and a can opener.

Purchase a fire and waterproof box.  It’s important to keep your most important documents safe during an earthquake, flood or any other national emergency.  Not only can having your important information help you during the event, it can make your life easier afterwards.  For around $50 you can purchase a waterproof, fireproof box that will store your documents as safely as possible.  If you’re extremely nervous, you can also scan in your most critical documents and store them in a cloud storage solution.  However, protecting the originals is a safer strategy an investment of this type can truly pay off in the long run.

High Food Costs on a Low Budget

March 11th, 2011

If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you’ve probably noticed that the cost of food has risen considerably in recent months, a result of the rising cost of gas and an already tight demand of wheat, corn and other staples.  But if your salary hasn’t risen to reflect grocery store prices, you’re likely among the millions of Americans struggling to find room in their budget for necessities.  Here are some ways to stretch your food budget without sacrificing on the items that you need.

Skip Pre-Packaged Foods

High food costs on a low budgetIt’s no secret that pre-packaged snacks are among the biggest splurges you can make in the grocery store.  Instead of paying top dollar for individually-wrapped cookies, for example, buy a larger bag and let each child take his or her snack in a sandwich bag.  This strategy can save you over $10 in the scope of a single month.

Make Your Own Food

You may think that a loaf of bread, for example, isn’t that expensive, but in reality, it’s about five times the price of what it would cost to bake a similar loaf on your own.  Likewise, you can make over 50 cupcakes for just a few bucks (think about the cost of a single bag of flour, half a bag of sugar, some oil, eggs and chocolate chips), while about 10 servings of pre-packaged snacks will cost the same price.  There are dozens of similar examples of foods that are relatively easy to prepare and will help you save big – all you need is a bit of time and creativity.

Re-Examine Your Menus

Do you really want to splurge on steak, or can you enjoy a delicious meal of meatloaf or chicken?  Do you need to purchase a bottle of salad dressing, or can you make your own salad topping for a fraction of the price?  You’ll be surprised at how much you can save if you adjust your menus and recipes to focus on cheaper food instead of luxury items.

Buy Second-Tier Produce

I’ve written several posts about how to save money at the grocery store, but in addition to the obvious (use coupons, buy in bulk, etc), it’s important to consider purchasing things you wouldn’t otherwise buy, and trying new, cheaper things.  One such things is second-tier produce, or fruits and vegetables that are about to pass their peak and are ready to be enjoyed immediately.  In some cases, you may need to remove some soft spots in order to use a specific vegetable, but this effort will pay off big time.  Second-tier produce can be used to create inexpensive meals that can be frozen.  Among my favorite examples are bananas, which can make cakes, cupcakes and muffins, potatoes which can be used in stews, casseroles and for homemade french-fries, and zucchinis which can be turned into soups and quiches which freeze beautifully.

Cook from the Cabinet

Your pantry is meant to be used, not just looked at.  When the cost of food is high, reduce your weekly shopping expenses by eating food that you already own.  You’ll be able to replenish it when general food prices go down or you can find items on sale.

5 Gadgets That Will Save You Money

March 4th, 2011

If you’re anything like me, you probably prefer to buy the cheapest items possible just to save a few cents.  Chances are that you probably avoid certain purchases altogether, because you perceive them as being unnecessary or overly expensive.  But while this spendthrift attitude may be helpful most of the time, there are times when it can actually be detrimental to your savings plan.  In fact, there are some so-called ‘expensive’ purchases that can actually save you money.  Read on to discover five ‘splurges’ that can improve your life and your bottom line.

Cappuccino machine – If you’ve ever looked at the price tag on a high-end gourmet coffee machine, you know thatMoney saving cappuccino machine it can cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars.  But then again, if you’ve looked at the cost of a cup at some coffee bars recently, you’ve probably noticed that a cup of coffee can cost as much as a full meal in some food chains.  Here’s the bottom line:

Approximate cost: $200+

You’ll break even after…about 75 specialty coffee shop brews

Compact fluorescent light bulbs – For just a few cents, a traditional incandescent light bulb can last for 700-1000 hours.  This may seem like a lot, but compact fluorescent light bulbs can last for over 10,000 hours, while using significantly less electricity to run.

Approximate cost: $3+

You’ll break even after…About 915 hours of usage

Water filtration system – If you purchase bottled water regularly when you’re on the go or you have gallon jugs delivered to your home water cooler, chances are good that you’re spending upwards of $30 each month on drinking water.  Having a water filtration system installed on your kitchen sink will allow you to have crisp, drinkable water without the steep monthly fee.  Filters that are attached to the faucet’s exterior are the cheapest, but even more stylish models that are installed under the sink can be found for a reasonable price.

Approximate cost: $40 for a faucet filter or $60 for an under-sink filter

You’ll break even after…1-2 months

Laptop – Today’s laptops only cost a bit more than a desktop, and are designed to last just as long (assuming you don’t drop it).  The beauty of a laptop is that it requires much less energy to run, and can be used for hours at a time without charging it, which saves you money regularly.  As an added advantage, a laptop can be used to continue working on those days when your internet service is out (I don’t know about you, but I have at least two of those a year, when it snows, when there’s an electrical failure, or when the cable company has an internal glitch).

Approximate cost: $400+

You’ll break even after…About a year

Smart power strip – I once mentioned that 75% of a home’s electricity is used when the power is off.  This is known as the phantom charge, and it’s a phenomenon that can be easily avoided by using a smart power strip.  Available on Amazon, these power strips can stop the flow of electricity to multiple electronic devices simultaneously, and can save you money for years to come.

Approximate cost: $25-$30, depending on the model

You’ll break even after: About 9 months

I hope you enjoy shopping for these items, guilt-free!

Birthday Gifts Under $25 for Men

February 22nd, 2011

Following last week’s post about affordable birthday gifts for women, I’d like to give men the same attention.  After all, despite what you may think, sports gear isn’t an ideal gift for every man.  So, without further ado, here are 10 creativeMen's birthday gifts birthday gifts for men that cost under $25.

  • A Blog – I’ve only seen this done once, but let me tell you – it was a gift that was talked about between friends internationally because of its creativity and the publicity of the gift. If you have a friend that has always wanted to start a blog but hasn’t actually done it, registering their desired domain can be the gift of a lifetime.  And, assuming that the man in your life is seeking a relatively normal domain name, it’ll cost way less than $25 (at least for the first month).
  • Personalized Boxers – You may only think of boxers as underwear, but you should be thinking of them as a great gift! Personalized gifts are always appreciated, and personalized boxers are significantly more creative than a boring personalized t-shirt.  In fact, some might even say they’re both practical and adorable.
  • Personalized Shot Glass – While we’re talking about personalized gifts, personalized shot glasses are an uncommon but extremely popular gift, especially for men who enjoy drinking – or those who like to pretend that they enjoy drinking.
  • Camping Gear (and a camping trip) – There’s plenty of camping equipment that you can buy your man for under $25, including flashlights, folding stoves storage containers.  Give your man a night or two out with the guys (while you stay home to watch a movie with some friends), and you’ll be his favorite person for weeks to come.
  • Magazine Subscription – I suggested this as a great gift for women, but it’s ideal for men as well (as long as he didn’t already get it for you!).
  • Insulated Travel Mug – It doesn’t matter whether your man travels regularly – having his own insulated travel mug will ensure that his coffee stays warm between Starbucks and the office (and that it won’t spill all over him).  Some gourmet coffee shops even offer discounts (or larger servings) for customers who bring their own mugs, so this birthday gift may be one that really pays off.
  • Gourmet Chocolate – You probably think that expensive chocolate is akin to an overpriced Hershey bar, but you’ll likely be surprised at just how much more decadent it can be.  For $25 you may not be able to get much, but you’ll surely be able to find a generous serving for one or two.  Your birthday boy will be impressed that you shelled out money for something delicious and fattening.  Who says you always need to nag him about his weight?
  • Barbecue Tools – He’ll get to feel like the king of the grill, and you’ll get him to make you dinner.  Sounds like a great idea to me!
  • Regular Tools – It doesn’t really matter if your partner is handy with tools.  If you give him some tools, he’ll think you appreciate his talents, and he’ll appreciate you even more.
  • Video Game Accessories – If you have a video game console which isn’t yet outfitted in its entirety, additional accessories can make a great birthday gift.  Just make sure that you won’t mind when your partner is too busy playing to finish his chores…

Creative Women’s Birthday Gift Ideas for Under $25

February 16th, 2011

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my birthday was on its way…and since its arrival is eminent, I figured I’d continue in the birthday theme, by writing about brilliant birthday gift ideas.  However, since men tend to have a harder time finding gifts than women do, I figured it’d be wise of me to start by suggesting some creative birthday gifts for women.  If you’re a woman who is seldom gifted, I suggest you ‘like’ this post so that your partner sees it and takes the hint.  And if you’re a man, I strongly recommend considering one of the gifts below.  Take it from me, you’ll be happy you did.

Birthday Gift Ideas

  • Fashion Watch – The woman in your life might already have a watch, but if she’s into fashion, chances are high that she’ll enjoy another one to make a different fashion statement.  Even better – she’ll remember you every time she checks the time.
  • Coffee Cup Warmer – As someone who absolutely hates lukewarm coffee, I can imagine that this would make a great gift for anyone who feels the same.  I’m suggesting this coffee cup warmer as a gift for women, but believe me, it would be great for any man too!
  • Photo Book – As birthday gift ideas go, this one is among the easiest to mess up, because men often miss the point (no offense).  A birthday photo book isn’t a celebration of last summer’s family vacation – it’s a celebration of the recipient’s life.  Ask the birthday girl’s family to contribute pictures from the past, and your woman will be inspired by the gift and by your efforts.
  • Mani/Pedi (or Just the Pedi) – A pedicure is a welcome gift for nearly any woman, especially if she has kids and you offer to watch them while she gets pampered.
  • Picture on Canvas – This gift will not only give you’re her home or office wall a lift, but it’ll warm her heart as well (sigh…but it’s true).
  • Movie Night with a Friend – Offer to babysit while you send your woman to the movies with the friend of her choice.  You’ll get to escape her preferred ‘chick flick’, and enjoy a night with the guys once the kids go to sleep.
  • Purse Holder – I don’t carry a purse, but I think that these inventions are truly ingenious.  Purse holders clip to the table so that women needn’t put their purses on the floor.  And best of all, they start at around $13!
  • Costume Jewelry – Any fashionista will appreciate another piece of stylish jewelry, and you can find some really nice ones for under $25 if you know where to look (hint, not at the flea market).  Browse through Overstock.com’s ample selection, or consider this chunky glass bracelet from Ice.com.
  • Gift Certificate – It may sound trite, but if your birthday girl is a bit of a careful spender (as some other people I know are!), she’ll really appreciate the ability to spend money freely, without worrying about her budget.  A gift certificate to the local mall, to her favorite department store or even to Starbucks can really allow her to cut loose (while you take all the credit).
  • Magazine Subscription – Most women find it hard to find time to read, but if the magazine arrives monthly, there’s no question they’ll make time to relax.  Magazine subscriptions are extremely affordable and they allow your birthday gift to ‘keep on giving’ all year long.
  • What’s the best inexpensive birthday gift you’ve ever given?

5 Ways to Save Money in the Shower

February 9th, 2011

Saving money isn’t always easy…but that doesn’t mean that it has to be hard.  In fact, there are a whole bunch of ways that you can save money while taking a shower, something which you probably do regularly anyway.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could save money while getting clean?  I thought so!  That’s why I’ve compiled this list of clever ways to save money in the shower.  The good news is that they’re practical too!

  1. Swap your showerhead. Installing a low-flow showerhead in your shower is a great way to save moneySave money in the showerwithout even feeling it.  Low-flow showerheads are designed to offer a pleasant water pressure while using significantly less water than standard showerheads.
  2. Switch to generic products.  Most standard shampoos and conditioners are available in generic versions for a fraction of the cost of salon-brand products.  Suave, for example, makes a high-end version of Nexxus conditioner, which has kept my hair feeling silky for months.  You can save several dollars per month just by changing your shower products to comparable cheaper versions.
  3. Use an electric razor. Women’s electric razors cost $15 and up and can be used reliably for years.  They pay for themselves after about 2 or 3 months (depending on the type of disposable razor you’ve been using), and they provide a close shave without shaving cream – so you can save even more.
  4. Use less shampoo.  You know how most shampoo and conditioner bottles recommend that you use a dime-sized amount of product?  They’re not lying.  Over-washing or conditioning your hair is not only a waste of money, but it’s also useless.  Your hair won’t be cleaner if you use more shampoo, just like your dishes won’t be cleaner if you use more than a bit of dish soap.  Once your hair is clean, it’s clean.  The same is true for soap.  Instead of over-lathering, reduce the amount of soap that you use, and you’ll still be perfectly clean.  One more thing – using too much soap or shampoo will require more time to wash off, which will raise your water bill.
  5. Take a shorter shower.  A low-flow showerhead uses about 1 gallon of water per minute, while a standard showerhead can use about 2.5 gallons per minute.  With that in mind, you can see that shaving a few minutes of your shower time each week can prevent you from using gallons of water, which is good for your wallet and the environment.

And…if you’re a super-saver, here are three more radical ways to save (that are still hygienic, of course):

  1. Collect the water while it’s heating up.  Standard showers take 30 seconds or more to warm up before you can comfortably get in.  Instead of letting it go down the drain, collect it in a bucket and use it to water your garden or clean the floor.
  2. Skip the shaving cream.  There’s no question that shaving cream can leave your legs feeling smooth, but you can likely simulate the same feeling by using conditioner or a lotion-based soap, both of which cost less than a shaving cream does.
  3. Lower the temperature by a few degrees.  You may enjoy a steaming hot shower, but you likely won’t notice if it’s a few degrees cooler, a concession that will reduce your heating bill.  This does not mean that you need to take a cold shower, just a slightly cooler one.  If you don’t want to give up your hot shower, consider cooling it down just at the end – you may even find it easier to get out.

10 (More) Awesome Birthday Freebies

February 2nd, 2011

It’s that time of year again…the time when I’m savoring every last minute of my ‘youth’, in anticipation of my upcoming birthday.  The time when I’m subtly reminding my friends about my upcoming celebration, so that it passes by withFree birthday skiing sufficient fanfare.  The time when I’m registering for birthday freebies so that I’ll enjoy some great gifts, even if said friends ‘forget’ to present me with the items I’ve been yearning for.  And, of course, the time when I get to share these birthday freebies with you, so that your birthday won’t go by silently.  Here are some of my favorite places to get free stuff on your birthday this year (ideally with no purchase required) – I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Aveda Birthday Program– If you register for Aveda’s Birthday Program at least 28 days before your birthday, you’ll receive a free Personal Blends Pure-Fume or other product worth up to $24, which will be blended with the aromas of your choice.   This is even better than last year’s Aveda birthday freebie (IMHO).
  2. Baskin-Robbins – I’ve already told you about Friendly’s birthday freebies, but if you love ice cream as much as I do, you’ll appreciate knowing that you can also get a free 2.5 ounce scoop of Baskin-Robbins for your birthday.  The freebie email will arrive five days before your birthday, so you can spread out the frozen love.  As an added bonus, you’ll also get a discount on a birthday cake and a coupon just for joining.
  3. Red Robin – Although the company’s web page is a little bit confusing, rumor has it that when you join the Red Royalty club, you’ll get a $3 signup bonus, plus a free burger on your birthday.  Come to think of it, I’m hungry just thinking about it.
  4. AMF Bowling – Who says that birthday freebies have to be physical things?  AMF Bowling centers are offering free games to eCLUB members on their birthday.  That sounds like great free stuff to me!
  5. Firehouse Subs – Hungry after your game of bowling?  Members of the Firehouse Subs birthday club will get a free medium sub on their birthday only, with valid ID.  If you ask me, this will be delicious even if you go bowling on a different day.
  6. Keva Juice – Join the Keva Klub to get a free smoothie on your birthday.
  7. Auntie Anne’s – Sometimes I think that just the smell of the pretzels is enough of a gift.  But of course, I look forward to getting the real one even more!  You can get a free pretzel too, if you sign up for the Auntie Anne’s VIP club.
  8. DSW – The rewards club offered by DSW has some great perks such as free shipping on select orders and money back rewards, but you’ll also enjoy getting a $5 gift card for your birthday.  In other words, you can probably get free socks or accessories for your birthday…or you can get your favorite pair of shoes for a bit less.
  9. Free Skiing (Multiple Locations)– This makes me happy that my birthday is in the winter!  Check out some places throughout the country that are offering free skiing on your birthday here.
  10. Old Navy – I know that I’m not actually listing the specific birthday freebie, but I couldn’t help including it because of my love of surprises.  Old Navy is offering a birthday surprise to members of its email list.  That means you’ll get a free surprise, plus updates about the rest of the company’s deals.

How to Plan a Royal Wedding For Less

January 17th, 2011

Now that the hullabaloo surrounding Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton has dwindled a bit, fashion magazines and celebrity watchdogs are focusing on their wedding details – where will the wedding be held, what designer will she choose to fashion her gown, what types of flowers will she carry, and more.  If you’re planning your wedding now, you know just how important those details can be.  But just because you aren’t marrying royalty, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel like a princess on your wedding day.  I’ve taken a look at some spectacular royal weddings – and one royal wedding-to-be – and compiled some suggestions for how you can replicate royal wedding ideas on a commoner’s budget.   I would even like to suggest that your wedding can be even more enjoyable than a royal wedding, because you won’t have the press intrusion.

Vintage engagement rings – One of the most talked-about aspects of Kate’s engagement to PrinceSave money with vintage wedding jewelryWilliam was the engagement ring that she received, which previously belonged to Princess Diana.  There’s no question that Prince William could have afforded to purchase an exquisite ring of his own, but the fact that he chose to ‘recycle’ his mother’s ring makes a dual statement.  Firstly, budget-conscious couples should know that there is nothing wrong with saving money by reusing a family heirloom.  Secondly, there is a sentimental value in handing down a family ring that increases the value of the ring beyond its financial worth.

Royal tiaras – For those marrying royalty, chances are high that they’ll need to wear their wedding tiara again at some point in the future.  But while you may be marrying Prince Charming, you probably won’t have a reason to wear yours again.  So instead of spending money on a 40 carat diamond tiara (as Carrie Underwood did for her 2010 wedding to Mike Fisher), why not get a faux tiara for all of the glitz but a fraction of the price?  Faux tiaras cost $50 and up, but if you can manage to borrow one from a friend, it’ll be free.

Church wedding – Not sure whether you want to get married in a church (or other place of worship)?  Take an example from some of the most stylish royal couples, including Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz, Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, and England’s Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.  Not only will your wedding have a royal (and holy) ambiance, but it’ll probably be cheaper than renting an exclusive wedding hall.

Design your own gown – Most royals design their own wedding gowns, and you can get the regal feel by designing your own.  Instead of having Valentino stitch it, have a local seamstress craft it for you.  A custom gown shouldn’t cost more than a gown that you bought off the rack (unless you choose yards of Chantilly lace or expensive embroidery).  In fact, it may actually be cheaper than choosing a designer gown off the rack and having it altered.

Skip the jewels – Royalty may have a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean that they choose to flaunt it.  If you peruse royal wedding pictures, you’ll see that most royal brides don’t wear flashy jewels, or that they don’t wear much jewelry at all.  Noticeably absent from most royal wedding albums?  Bridal necklaces.  Among the brides that decided that less is more?  Marie-Chantal Miller, who wed Greece’s Crown Prince Pavlos in a high-necked wedding gown, and Lisa Halaby whose wedding gown during her wedding to King Hussein Ibn Talal had gold embroidery near the neck, eliminating the need for extra baubles.

Good luck planning a gorgeous wedding (without overspending)!

Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gifts

January 10th, 2011

It’s hard to believe, but Valentine’s Day is just over a month away – which may not be much time if you want to plan something fantastic, especially if you’re on a tight budget.  The good news is that you can find some great cheap Valentine’s Day ideas that will look expensive…if you start prowling for deals now.  Here are some great places to look:

Groupon – If you’ve never used Groupon, now’s the time to check it out.  Among the great deals I’ve seen recentlyCheap Valentine's Day Ideasare deals on facials and massages, restaurant deals, and interesting activities such as dance lessons (how romantic!), Segway tours and drinks at posh bars.  If you don’t find a deal in your area today, sign up for email alerts and wait for the perfect cheap Valentine’s Day idea to come to you!

Restaurant.com – If you enjoy eating out, you can score some great deals at Restaurant.com.  For extra savings, look for Restaurant.com coupons.  They change regularly, but chances are good that you can find a code for up to 80% off of their already discounted restaurant vouchers.

Shutterfly – Shutterfly is one of my favorite sites for photo gifts because it’s so easy to use.  You can find special deals here until January 12th, but if you’re not ready to commit to a meaningful (but cheap) Valentine’s Day idea now, don’t panic – the site always offers specials and coupons, so make sure to check back often, or to like my Facebook page for the latest in great photo deals and other deals.

Inexpensive Valentine's Day dates Discount travel websites – Few people would reject the notion of a romantic getaway, and there are some great places to find some awesome Valentine’s Day deals.  Try FareCompare’s iPhone app to get news about the latest deals, or use a last minute travel website as the day gets closer.  If you’re planning a Valentine’s Day getaway, it’s never too early to start looking for deals.  If you find one, book now – otherwise, enjoy the deals and spontaneity of making a last-minute decision.

Flowers – What woman doesn’t love a gorgeous bouquet of flowers?  Save money on delivery by ordering from your local florist and picking them up yourself, or order from a well-known site like 1800Flowers.com.  Save big by using online coupon codes which can be found on sites like CouponCabin.com and RetailMeNot.com.

Ice.com – Jewelry is always a great way to show someone you love them, and if you start shopping now, you’ll surely find some great deals.  In fact, Ice.com is having a winter clearance with prices up to 82% the original prices, there are some great bargains to be had.

Happy early Valentine’s Day,

10 Great Money Saving Apps

January 6th, 2011

Did you get a new smartphone during the holidays?  Make a New Year’s resolution to save more money this year?  Congratulations!  I’m so excited for you that I’ve taken the time to research a bunch of money saving smartphone apps, and to introduce you to 10 of my favorite apps.  Have you been using one that you don’t see on my list?  Please share!Money saving smart phone apps

  1. CouponSherpa – This free iPhone app sends hundreds of in-store coupons directly to your cell phone, and allows you to share them with friends.  My favorite part?  It helps you find the nearest store so that you can find your savings as quickly as possible.
  2. TheCouponsApp – The name of this Android app says it all.  It’s great because it’s fre, but it’s especially awesome because it lets you search through your coupons with voice recognition.
  3. GasBuddy – Find the cheapest gas station around with the GasBuddy app, available for iPhone ($2.99) and Android (free).
  4. AllPoint – Avoid ATM fees by using AllPoint’s ATM locator to find one of AllPoint’s surcharge-free ATM machines.  With 35,000 machines nationwide, there will hopefully be one near you.
  5. RepairPal – Wondering if your mechanic is giving you a reasonable price quote for the service you need? RepairPal will tell you what the necessary repair should cost and will help you understand what you can expect to pay for parts, and how much the labor will cost.  When relevant, the app will also tell you if it’s worthwhile to get the job done somewhere else (perhaps in a nearby area with another zipcode).
  6. CompareMe – This iPhone app costs isn’t free, but can save you a bundle by offering on-the-spot price comparisons of nearly any product.
  7. Kindle Ebook Reader – Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader is available for many smartphones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry and more).  Save $139 (or more) if you don’t need to purchase the Kindle, just make sure that you aren’t overpaying for the books.  Try to borrow from friends with Kindle’s new lending feature, or download free ebooks to read anytime, anywhere.
    LocalReuse – A modified Craig’s List for smartphones, LocalReuse does just what it’s name suggests – when you submit your zipcode, LocalReuse suggests used items that are being given away in your area.  If you find something that you need, you’ll be able to save big!
  8. CardBank (for iPhone) – Wary of signing up for store discount clubs because you’ll have to tote around the membership card?  CardBank allows you to store your membership details and barcode on your iPhone so that you won’t have dozens of cards stuck to your keychain.  This app isn’t free, but you’ll definitely make your money back in savings.
  9. Cellfire.com – A few months back when I wrote about where to find coupons, I mentioned Cellfire.com, but it’s worth mentioning again.  Cellfire is a great service that allows you to search for coupons on your cell phone and to redeem them by showing the cashier your saved coupons.  Over 4,000 retailers offer coupons on Cellfire, so chances are high that Cellfire can save you money in your area.