During a recent cash flow crisis, I decided to stop making unnecessary...
We test apps that can save you money in 2017
Mobile phones can be expensive but you can also use them to save money. We’ve found four apps that can help you save money in different ways. From tracking your spending to sourcing out cheap restaurant food, we’ve got apps that can help you save a few quid.
We each picked a money-saving app, downloaded it and put it through its paces. Our reviews tell you the good and the bad about each, and how we got on with them.
Keep track of your spending with Daily Budget
Reviewed by Becca
I wanted to find a budgeting app that would genuinely help me manage my money better, be easy to use and had an element of fun to it. We all know that budgeting isn’t the most exciting pastime, so the clean, bright and simple design appealed.
How does it work? The concept is simple
1. Add in your monthly income
2. Add in your monthly outgoings
3. Add in what you’d like to add to your savings each month
The app will then give you a daily budget for the rest of your living expenses (such transport, general expenses, groceries and household items). You then add in what you’ve spent each day.
I found Daily Budget really easy to use once I had sorted out the settings a little. It has some great features, like the ability to add in ‘big spendings’ targets to save for special expenses such as holidays, and analysis options so you can see where you might be able to cut back. These features made me feel really positive about trying to manage my finances better.
You can pay to add on more spending categories, and also remove the ads that appear at the bottom of the app. I found the adverts weren’t particularly annoying, and I could manage with the free categories provided. Why pay more if you don’t need to? After all, we’re meant to be budgeting, right?
The downsides? If you’re not organised from the beginning of the month then it’s almost impossible to work out where to start. You need to input all of your figures before you get paid so that you know your budget, and are ready to start tracking your spending accurately.
Save money on your grocery shopping with mySupermarket
Reviewed by Rory
mySupermarket is designed to help you save money on your shopping by comparing prices at different supermarkets, to make sure you’re always getting the best deal. The app also offers suggestions on reducing the cost of your shop by switching and saving on items.
It took a bit of work to get the app working how I wanted, but I’ve already made savings.
Once you’re told the app about the food you want, the app calculates the cost of your shopping and searches other supermarkets to find out where it would be cheapest to do your shopping.
The app was useful for comparing branded items to each other, and for suggesting cheaper alternatives, but wasn’t very good at comparing ‘own brand’ items as the system doesn’t always match up similar products with different names.
mySupermarket’s app looked quite complicated when you start but once I got used to it it was fine. There wasn’t much difference between this app and using a supermarkets online shopping sites. It also gets easier the more times you use it because it remembers the items from your previous shops.
In the end I saved around £5 off my weekly ‘big shop’, so for now at least, it’s in my favourites!
Huge discounts on café, restaurant and takeaway food with Too Good To Go
Reviewed by Rachel
Food wastage is definitely a problem in the UK. We’re apparently throwing away £13 billion worth of food each year. The desire to combat this is what gave birth to Too Good To Go, an easy-to-use food app which lets users collect food from local cafes and restaurants that would otherwise be thrown out. To help sweeten the deal, the food’s hugely reduced in price.
For example, I managed to pick up a lovely box of cupcakes from one of my local artisan bakeries. They would usually go for £9.20 (ain’t no way I’d pay that, normally!), but I managed to get them through the app for £2.40. Needless to say, the MoneyAware elves were pleased!
There’s a mix of places who’ve signed up to Too Good To Go, so you’re bound to find something you like. Alongside the posh bakery, I saw some great deals for Chinese food, Jamaican chicken, milkshakes, sushi and vegan treats, among others.
If you try this app out, keep in mind:
Food tends to get sold off during off-peak times, or just before the business is about to close for the day. So if you work a typical 9-5 you may struggle to find any cheap lunch options through the app. It’s also tough to find something for dinner unless you’re in the city at just the right time of the evening.
It’s also hard to plan meals around an app like this as you don’t know what’s going to be available until the actual day. I’d suggest treating it as something you can browse on the go if you’re struggling for fun lunch ideas.
All in all, this is a great app if you’re out and about and want to pick up something cheap to fill your belly.
Avoid sky-high mobile data costs with Opera Max
Reviewed by James
Available on Android (iOS not currently available)
I’ve had a pay-as-you-go sim in my mobile for over a year now and I’ve saved loads of money compared to being on a contract. Paying for every megabyte of mobile data has made me very careful about connecting to the web while I’m on the go.
That’s why I decided to try using Opera Max, an app that claims to reduce your mobile data usage.
The app reduces the amount of data you use by acting as a middle-man between you and the things you request from the web, and reducing the file sizes that it sends to your phone. So on a website with very large images you’ll only download a slimmed down version.
I found this app delivers on its promise of reducing the amount of mobile data you use, and it could save a good bit of money over the course of a month if you frequently use your mobile when you’re out and about.
The downside is that the quality of images and videos is reduced, so you have to balance that against the money you may save. I also found the adverts to be a bit intrusive and the notifications it uses makes my phone feel cluttered.
I think this app could be very useful if you frequently go over your data allowance or have to pay-as-you-go but there are some niggles that mean it’s not the perfect solution. It’s certainly saved me money though.
Do you use any apps that help you save money? Tell us about them in the comments section below.