I've been thinking this week about how helpful my iPhone has been lately in helping me save money, and I realized just how many useful apps I've downloaded and tried. What follows is a list of my 5 favourite money and time saving apps. After all, time is money, isn't it? And best of all, all of these apps can be downloaded for FREE!

1. Mint (9/10). By far, my favourite app. It makes budgeting easy and accessible on my iPhone. If you're not familiar with this app, what it does is it basically lets you link all of your accounts (including mortgages and student loans) to your mint account, feeds all of the data in, so you can view all of your transactions and balances in one spot. It also sends you reminders when bills are due, and lets you track changes in your net worth from month to month (by the way, the cool pie charts in my last post about my weekly spending are e-mailed to me on a weekly basis by Mint!). I would give this app an 8.5 out of 10, only because its downside is a fairly big one. It has the most horrendous customer service on the planet - not only does it take super long for a response, but most of the reps I've dealt with are illiterate or just plain stupid.

2. Waze (8.5/10). This app lets you map out a route - say, from your house to your office - and tells you what the ETA is on your arrival. It does it pretty accurately too, using traffic patterns calculated based on the speed of other (moving) Waze users. I use this app while I'm still in bed in the morning to figure out what traffic is like and whether I can afford (time-wise) the extra 10 or 15 minutes of sleep. My only complaint about this app is that it appears that as soon as you log into the app, the app uses your speed and factors it into its traffic calculations, so if you're using it before you start driving, it would likely throw off the ETA calculations of others in your area.

3. Reminders (8.5/10). This comes standard on all iPhones with iOS 5 now, but it's well worth mentioning. Set any reminder (e.g. "cancel Amex card to avoid $90 annual fee") and set a date for a reminder. When that date comes, the iPhone will send you a pop reminder, so you'll never forget. The really great thing about this app is you can set a reminder that's contingent on a location as well. Instead of entering a date, set a location reminder (like "call Dr. G" reminder set for when you reach your office [ you would enter your office address, of course]), and when the GPS on your phone senses you've reached that location, it will send you the reminder.

4. Skype (8/10). For anyone making long distance calls, this app renders your long distance calling plan/card/overage charges completely void. Using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, you can use your skype account to make calls using any wireless network or a 3G network. This app let me cut out the $15 long distance calling feature I had with my carrier.

5. Groupon (7.5/10). For anyone that likes to shop once in a while, this is the perfect app for scoring discounts. You purchase a "groupon" to a retailer for typically at 50-90% off the typical value of the items. For example, a few weeks ago, I bought a $25 groupon to a local bakery for $12. Before that, I had bought a $45 groupon to the Body Shop Canada for only $20. With all the sales that were on at the Body Shop when I arrived, I actually scored about $110 worth of stuff with the $20 I had spent. Ridiculous, ridiculous savings. The functionality of the app is more limited than on the groupon website, and could definitely use some fine tuning.

6. Red Laser (7.5). I only recently discovered this app, but it essentially allows you to scan an item in a store using the bar code and (1) instantly pulls up a list of nearby retailers that offer the item for a lower price, and (2) if it's a food item, it pulls up all of the ingredients the food item contains. While I personally don't have any allergies and can't comment on its usefulness, for those with food allergies, it seems like a good starting point for determining what food items to examine more closely and consider purchasing.

And now you can see how my iPhone paid for itself through these very useful, FREE apps.
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