Every September, I think about Pete, one of my Freshman college dorm mates, who signed up for about sixteen different credit cards his first week of school. He did this because they were “pretty” and he liked to take his collection out of his wallet 1) for show and 2) to spend – because, for all he cared, it was free money. I shudder at the memory. Poor Pete.
Attempting to learn financial responsibility in college is scary, but it’s a lot easier today with so many smart phone apps to help you shop savvy, manage your money, and save on the spot. And because college life is rich with ridiculous expenses (text books, overpriced food, and travel costs) it pays immensely to be a smart, smart phone shopper. Here are ten great apps to get you started:
- Campus Special: Campus Special is a mobile coupon book that uses your phone’s GPS to locate restaurants and business around your college’s campus. You’ll get access to exclusive deals; you can redeem coupons straight from your phone, and you can even order food through the app and have it delivered right to your dorm door.
- GasBuddy: Commuting to school? Taking weekend road trips or visiting friends at other universities? Gas can be a huge, unanticipated college expense, but GasBuddy lets you comparison shop for the best gas prices in your area, anytime, anywhere. (For a more extensive review of GasBuddy, click here.) Best part? The more you contribute to price updates, the more frequently you’re entered into a weekly drawing to win free gas.
- Hotel Tonight: College life isn’t necessarily about advanced planning, so when you’re taking a spur of the moment trip and need a hotel that day, Hotel Tonight is your hero. You can get great deals, day-of, on rooms at participating hotels, and you can even book for more than one night. (For a more in-depth review on Hotel Tonight, click here.)
- Tip N Split: You’re going to eat out a lot in college, which is great as long as you can count on everyone you’re eating with to play fair when tip times rolls around. That’s not always the case, but now you can easily split the tip based on everyone’s bill, in black and white, on your smart phone.
- Red Laser: This app lets you scan any major retail bar code on an item in-store and instantly pull up price comparisons on that item online and in other stores near you, so you can make sure you get the very best deal on any item possible. You can order online through the app too, if the best deal is not in your immediate vicinity.
- Wrapp: Want to give your friend a birthday present but can’t really afford it? Wrapp is a social, mobile gift giving app that lets you give free $5 an $10 dollar gift cards to your Facebook friends. It also lets you give more substantial, paid gift cards, and you can even split the cost amongst your other friends. (Read my review of Wrapp here.)
- Mint: Mint is an amazing money management app that lets you keep track of your finances in one place. Mint links to all of your bank accounts and credit cards, creates budgets based on your actual spending, graphs your spending so you can see where your money is going, and reminds you to pay your bills on time.
- BigWords: This text book buying app helps you score the absolute best deal possible on textbooks by searching top discount sellers on the web and calculating all coupons and promotions, plus buyback rates and more.
- Starbucks: Starbucks and college go together but it can be an expensive combination. Register any Starbucks card online, and you can use it to pay for drinks through the app. Plus, for every 15 transactions on your Starbucks card, you’ll get a coupon for a free drink.
- Groupon: Tired of dining hall food? Achy after slumping over your desk for 12 hours straight? Groupon lets you get in on great group rates so you can dine out or get a massage at serious discounts.
Are you a college student? What would YOU add to the list? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!