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Saving Money Is Hard for You? These 6 Apps Can Make It 10 Times Easier

Saving Money Is Hard for You? These 6 Apps Can Make It 10 Times Easier

Budgeting is hard. It’s time-consuming and requires you to face the fact that you spend money. And often times, the money you’re spending could have been saved. Do you really need that six dollar latte? Do you have to have that scarf that you will wear one time and then forget about? No, I don’t think so.

But often times, we get caught up in a moment and use money that would have been better spent in a savings account or going toward credit card debt. After all, statistics show each household with a credit card carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt.[1] So why are we racking up more bills? When smartphones starting making a big appearance in our world, the phrase you heard so often was, “there’s an app for that.” And, well, there is!

Self-control just doesn’t work when you spend money? Technology can give you a helping hand!

While it will require a small learning curve sometimes, and while it does mean you have to pay attention to your spending and track your habits, using money saving and budgeting apps can do wonders for your bank accounts. If you can get into the habit of turning to some of these apps before handing over your credit or debit card to the cashier at your favorite clothing store of coffee shop, you may find yourself with a healthy savings account, and potentially even some “leftover” money!

The following apps will be rated on the same scale and look at uniqueness and personalization, price, usability and appearance. If you’ve used any apps on or off this list with success, be sure to share!

Acorns

    This app is incredibly user-friendly, and the concept is simple: Automatically invent spare change from every purchase. So let’s say you go to Starbucks and buy a coffee for $3.24. You would be $0.76 away from an even $4.00 purchase. So Acorns applies that difference to your account. Boom, you just invested $0.76. You can even set up recurring investments, such as $5.00 a day. This simple savings can add up to about $2,000 a year. And if you have a 401k or another type of savings already, imaging the benefits you’ll reap by investing just $35 a week on top of that![2]

    Uniqueness and Personalization 10/10

    I love this app for everything it represents! It couldn’t be more personalized, since it is going directly off of your purchases.

    Price 10/10

    Acorns is free!! I try to stay away from money saving apps that cost me money, as I feel like it defeats the purpose!

    Usability 10/10

    I know I’m giving this app a perfect score, but I believe it deserves it. Acorns really makes saving money simple and at no point does it feel intimidating or confusing.

    Appearance 10/10

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    Acorns is bright, clean and easy to read and understand. I like to look at it and therefore, I’m prone to use it more.

    Mint

      I personally love this app. For me, it serves a great purpose because I can see all of my accounts, bills and budgets in one place. If you, like me, have more than one credit card and multiple recurring subscriptions, it’s really helpful! You can also link your savings accounts, 401k, IRA, and even see your net worth. It’s secure and free and gives you a (fairly accurate) free credit score regularly. Oh, and if you are one of the rare people who use cash only, you can still use Mint, you just have to manually enter in your transactions.[3]

      Uniqueness 8/10

      I’m not giving Mint a perfect score, because I think there are plenty of ways to budget, be it an Excel spreadsheet, paper and pen or an app, but I did rate it high because it’s one of the most convenient out there.

      Price 10/10

      Mint is free, and I love that. It truly gives you no excuse to not save money!

      Usability 7/10

      I’m giving this a 7 because even though I use this app regularly, I do find that sometimes it gets a little hung up. One of the nicest features is being able to see your money flow in real-time, but occasionally I have to refresh a handful of times before it’s actually current. It’s not a big deal, but it is a little annoying.

      Appearance 7/10

      Mint’s website is great. It probably would’ve gotten a 10, but the app is set up just a little differently, and it’s enough to knock the score down.

      Prosper Daily

        This app is also known as BillGuard, and it’s not only helpful for saving and spending, but also for making sure you are the only one with access to your hard-earned money. Like the other apps, you can track all your accounts in one place and see what you’re spending, but Prosper Daily also allows you to quickly identify fraudulent charges. You can also check your credit score as often as you like, but please note that free credit scores are not always accurate. They do tend to be in the ballpark though, so they are helpful for getting an idea of where you are and measuring success.

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        Uniqueness 9/10

        While this app isn’t especially unique overall, I scored it high because I love the fact that it flags suspicious activity. This can be more helpful than hoping your credit or debit card company catches something. Awareness is key!

        Price 10/10

        This is yet another free app, so it gets a perfect score from me.

        Usability 9/10

        Easy to understand and simple enough to use.

        Appearance 9/10

        Nice, clean graphics and helpful charts.

        Ibotta

          I’m obsessed with this app. Seriously.

          For a while, my friends probably thought I was being paid to advertise for this company, because I could not stop talking about it! Ibotta is a rebate app for groceries.[4] Some of the cash back amounts are small (think $0.25), and some are upwards of $5.00. To date, I’ve made over $100 on the groceries I needed to buy anyway! If you use code edbmoql when you log in, you’ll get $10 right away! Not a terrible bribe, huh?

          Uniqueness 10/10

          While there are a handful of grocery rebate apps (and yes, I have about all of them) Ibotta remains the most unique to me because it offers so much. Not only can you earn cash by getting groceries, but you can also get rebates at certain restaurants and retailers.

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          Price 10/10

          This one deserves beyond a perfect score. I mean, you’re paid to download it!!!

          Usability 10/10

          Some rebate apps/sites send a check via snail mail. While I’m always happy to receive money, I hate to wait for it! Ibotta let’s you send the money straight to Venom or Paypal once you reach $20.

          Appearance 10/10

          Easy to see, understand and use. Perfect score from me.

          Walmart Savings Catcher

            This app is great if you buy all of your groceries and household items at Walmart, because the savings will add up quickly. This isn’t a coupon app, but almost a rebate app! It works like this: scan the barcode of your Walmart receipt in the app and watch your earnings begin. It’s that easy. If the app finds any of the items you purchased at a better price, they pay you the difference on a Walmart gift card. Plus, the savings catcher is built into the regular Walmart app, meaning you can also reorder prescriptions, order online and check out sales.

            Uniqueness 10/10

            I think it’s very unique that Walmart did this, as it really shows how much they wanted to keep their customers. They already price-match, but this app goes a step further by making sure you, as the customer, really did pay as little as possible for the items you needed.

            Price 10/10

            Free app = perfect score.

            Usability 7/10

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            I’m only giving this a 7 because you have to remember to scan your receipt every time. I know it’s like this with any rebate/savings app, but for some reason this app is the hardest for me to remember to use.

            Appearance 8/10

            This app is nice enough to look at, and it serves its purpose.

            Cartwheel

              Last, but certainly not least, is the app for Walmart’s competitor, Target. The Cartwheel app also allow you to browse and shop through the Target site, but I love it for it’s coupons! While I have been known to clip and print coupons in the past, if I’m going to Target, all I need is my smartphone. Cartwheel allows you to “clip” coupons (ranging from dollar amounts to percentages) by selecting them. They are all added to your personalized barcode which is scanned by the cashier at checkout. There is something so satisfying about watching your total drop after the beep of that scanner gun!

              Uniqueness 9/10

              I don’t know that coupons in an app are especially unique, but I rated Cartwheel high because I love how it’s done. While you don’t get cash back, you do get so see how much you’ve saved.

              Price 10/10

              Cartwheel costs $0.00.

              Usability 10/10

              This app is so easy to navigate and use. The only issue I’ve ever had was if I lost signal in the store. I especially love the option to scan the item’s barcode in the store to instantly check if it’s on sale!

              Appearance 10/10

              Clean and simple to understand, view and read.

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              Heather Poole

              Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

              The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

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              Last Updated on December 9, 2019

              7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

              7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

              The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

              Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

              However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

              The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

              Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

              1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

              According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

              From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

              This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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              Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

              2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

              We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

              Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

              When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

              Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

              Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

              You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

              What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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              3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

              This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

              First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

              Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

              Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

              4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

              One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

              “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

              If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

              Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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              Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

              When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

              5. Learn to Say “No”

              I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

              Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

              Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

              Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

              By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

              6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

              This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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              Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

              The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

              Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

              7. Be Intentional

              The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

              There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

              It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

              The Bottom Line

              The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

              Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

              More About Staying Focused

              Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

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